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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Porsche Cup Class Joins Updated 38-Car Gulf 12H Grid

Six Porsche cup cars added to updated Gulf 12H entry alongside 32-car GT3 field…

Photo: Dan Bathie/Toro Verde

Six Porsche Carrera Cup cars have joined the grid for the Gulf 12 Hours, increasing the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli round to 38 entries in total.

According to an updated entry list, the Toro Verde and SpeedLover teams will each run a pair of 992-generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cups, while RaceEvent and Porsche Centri Ticino are set to field single-car entries.

The half-dozen ‘GT Cup’ grid will run underneath the main field of differently categorized GT3 cars for the final round of the IGTC series, which is run by SRO Motorsports Group.

SRO and Gulf 12 Hours promoter Driving Force Events will collaborate on the event at Yas Marina Circuit on Dec. 11.

Driving Force director Andrea Ficarelli explained that the latest entry list, which lacks driver lineups, is “95 percent” accurate to what will appear on the grid in two months.

“In terms of numbers, we will not have any more cars that are on the list,” he said.

“32 are GT3 and six are Porsche Cup. This is, for us, very near the maximum number we can have at Yas Marina Circuit.

“Putting more than one refueling rig per garage would be technically difficult and maybe dangerous if many cars are stopping at the same time.

“In order to achieve this [number], we have been forced not to accept GT4 cars and any other kind of car other than the Porsche in the 992 version.

“We are having an event that is 80 to 90 percent GT3.”

Ficarelli explained that the Cup class was involved to ensure a maximum grid size, although it later emerged that interest was high enough to fill the grid with GT3 cars.

In July he told Sportscar365 that Driving Force was keen to maintain the event’s ethos as a race that accepts different types of machinery, under its new IGTC affiliation.

At the time, Ficarelli said that his team was looking to have six Porsche Cups alongside 20 GT3s and around eight GT4s, however no GT4 cars will take part in the event.

The IGTC has included multi-category GT races before. The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour welcomes a range of other machinery alongside GT3, while the Indianapolis 8 Hour had a GT4 class for two editions until SRO dropped the class from the race this year.

When asked about the reason for not going with an all-GT3 grid, Ficarelli said: “You always start with a list of teams interested in entering cars.

“You have 60 or 70 interested. And then you already know that when we arrive closer to the definition of the entry list, the number of cars goes down.

“It is important to be on a couple of different markets, to make sure that you make it in the end for a full grid.

“This year, we would have been able to do a full grid only on GT3 cars. But we have learned [about] this [possibility] one month ago.

“In the past, by experience, we have limited it before and found ourselves in the situation where at a certain point, we were short.

“When you are one month [from] the deadline, it is very difficult to form a new class.”

Ficarelli added that Porsche Cup was chosen over GT4 largely because the former category’s performance level is closer to GT3.

“There were two reasons,” he said. “Simply because the market overall, in the region of Porsche Cup, looks stronger.

“But also because, in terms of performance, they are closest to GT3.

“We have a high-level race with GT3 cars, so it was good to have cars that are at a very similar level, instead of putting cars that were definitely slower.

“From a marketing point of view, it’s a market with so many cars that we have always somehow neglected, in a way that we have never pushed quite strongly in this segment.

“It’s a shame, because if you count how many Porsche Cup cars are around in events like VLN in Germany or other races. Even in the Middle East, it’s a shame not to focus on them.”

WRT Drops Off Updated Entry List

The original Gulf 12 Hours entry list featured a record 34-car field of GT3 cars, however 32 are now registered alongside the six Porsche Cups, which have offset the loss of two entries from Team WRT.

WRT has officially abandoned its plans to join the race with two new BMW M4 GT3s.

The former Audi squad indicated last month that a Gulf 12 Hours entry would be unlikely due to its need for an intensive winter testing schedule with its new cars.

Craft-Bamboo Racing, which entered the recent Indianapolis 8 Hour, has also dropped off the entry and been replaced by fellow Mercedes-AMG squad GetSpeed Performance.

AF Corse’s Ferrari stable has increased from five to six cars, while Greystone GT has withdrawn its McLaren 720S GT3.

Ficarelli estimated that there will be “six to eight” cars racing in the Pro class at the Gulf 12 Hour, with the rest of the GT3 field consisting of Pro-Am and Bronze Cup crews.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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