A Pro division within the GT3-based Class A will see vehicles able to compete without an unseeded driver for the first time in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour’s history as a GT race, next February 3-5.
Entries are now open for the 2017 race, with a host of the latest GT3 vehicles expected to feature on the iconic Mount Panorama circuit for the first time.
Australia’s international endurance Race will get extra bite next year thanks to the expected addition of brand-new cars like the BMW M6 GT3, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3, Porsche 911 GT3R and Ferrari 488 GT3 that are now eligible to compete.
The newest breed of GT3 machinery will go head to head with existing Bathurst favourites next year, likely to include the 2016-winning McLaren 650S and the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 that pushed the winning car all the way to the thrilling finish this year.
The 2017 event sporting and technical regulations reflect minor changes to the structure of event, including the addition of an all-professional aspect to the GT3 class and the inauguration of an all-new Pro/Am Trophy.
The Pro/Am Cup will become an instant icon of the event with a specially commissioned perpetual trophy to be awarded to the class winners.
Cars entered in the Amateur class will also be eligible for the Pro/Am Cup should they be first across the line of all cars with Amateur drivers.
Both the Pro class and Pro/Am Trophy competition will feature the latest array of GT3 vehicles with several teams already publicly stating their intention to compete next February.
These include Steven Richards Motorsport / BMW Motorsport Australia with their BMW M6 GT3 and Walkinshaw Racing with their Porsche 911 GT3R.
Ryan McLeod’s MARC GT outfit recently took delivery of their own BMW M6 GT3 with the team building plans to tackle the race on two fronts.
“We obtained the BMW with a view to being able to win GT races outright as well as in our class with the MARC Cars,” McLeod said.
“We would like to run at least six MARC Cars in the invitational class and have the BMW running in Class A to potentially compete for outright victory.
“The growth of the event is fantastic and we’re excited to have the chance to compete for wins in two classes.”
Continuity is the key in 2017 with only minor changes to the event regulations.
Class B remains the domain of Porsche’s 911 GT3 Cup Car, where the latest 991-specification model will become eligible for the first time.
Class C remains the domain of GT4 vehicles, with the class experiencing rapid growth in Europe thanks to an influx of new models, including McLaren’s new 570S GT4.
The Invitational class also remains for invited Production-based and endurance racing-specific vehicles including the popular Daytona Coupe and MARC Cars Australia racers.
The 12 Hour will retain its status as the opening round of the 2017 Intercontinental GT Challenge, while Blancpain GT Series technical director Claude Surmont will return to fill the same role at Mount Panorama.
Entries remain open until Dec. 16, with early-bird entries closing on Aug. 31. Tickets and Camping will go on sale during the week commencing July 18.