A new invitation-only entry process has been revealed for next year’s Gulf 12 Hours, which will take place in Abu Dhabi on Dec. 14.
The grid will be capped at 32 cars, one fewer than this year’s race, with registration opening in February and a preliminary entry list released as early as the end of March.
The race organizers will invite teams to confirm their entry by the end of April, with teams permitted a maximum of three cars on the grid.
Teams that don’t make the preliminary entry list of 28 cars cars will be added to a waiting list and accepted in case of cancellations.
A 28-car final entry list is expected to be published six months before the race, in early June, while the remaining four grid slots will be confirmed later in the year.
Those four entries will be reserved for “special projects” such as the launch of new cars.
Priority will be given to teams that have entered cars in previous runnings of the Gulf 12H and those that have taken part in the 2018-19 Gulf Sportscar Championship.
“Further to the great success of this year’s Gulf 12 Hours we decided to focus on quality versus quantity in order to provide an efficient use of Yas Marina Circuit’s garage space and enhanced first-class experience to all teams and drivers taking part in our event,” said promoter Andrea Ficarelli.
“The new entry process should allow us to publish the preliminary entry list of the 9th Gulf 12 Hours well in advance, at least 6 months before the race.
“The new procedure is designed to reward teams and drivers that have believed in the Gulf 12 Hours in the last eight years and allowed us to develop such a successful event, while we will also keep space for some new entries.
“From 2019 we will focus our attention on improving the lifestyle experience by making the paddock more alive and glamorous and further improving the live video streaming of the event.”
The race’s Dec. 14 date, which is the same weekend as this year’s race, sees a clash with the nearby FIA World Endurance Championship round in Bahrain on the same day.
It could also clash with the ABB FIA Formula E Championship’s Ad Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia, which was held on the same day as the Gulf 12H this year.
As a result, there exists the potential of three major motorsports events taking place in the Arabian peninsula on the same day.