A six-hour support race featuring GT Cup and GT4 class machinery has been announced for next year’s Gulf 12 Hours, which will become a GT3-only endurance race.
Set for Dec. 10, 2023, the 13th edition of the Middle Eastern enduro will be reserved for GT3 cars only according to Driving Force Events director Andrea Ficarelli, leaving the new, Yas Island 6 Hours to accommodate the lower classes.
It comes as the Gulf 12H has featured significant growth with GT3 machinery, with this year’s edition having been part of Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli, which will also continue into next year.
Ficarelli explained that the Yas Island 6 Hours would be open to Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, GT4 entries and the potential of other cars from single-make series.
He expressed the “quite strange” situation that has seen the lack of GT4 cars in the Middle East, which Driving Force Events is hoping to change with the new race.
“Sometimes there are things that are very difficult to put into perspective,” Ficarelli told reporters during last weekend’s Gulf 12 Hours.
“Some teams said that it’s not convenient for GT4 to be here because the… fixed costs are the same [as GT3, despite] the running costs being lower.
“At the end of the day, they cannot offer cars for a price that’s much lower than GT3. Drivers prefer to race with the GT3 cars.
“Opposite, you see the Porsche Cup and the 992 is growing massively. In our case we had to limit the number of cars [in the Gulf 12H].
“The only solution we that we see is to create a new race, a six-hour race, that will take place on the Saturday evening.
“[It would feature] all the cars that are lower than GT3.
“We want to keep the main event for GT3-only and to offer an opportunity for people that are running, for example, the Porsche 992 Cup car, to win their own race.”
A total of four Type-992 Porsche Cup cars took part in last weekend’s Gulf 12H, with Ficarelli stating those entrants are “extremely happy” about the development, which would put them in their own race.
“It’s a big difference to race for the 28th position or for the first [overall],” he said.
Ficarelli said he’d be open to also including Cup cars from Lamborghini and Ferrari in the event.
“In principle yes, but it’s subject to some level of agreement with the manufacturers because we don’t want to do it just ourselves,” he said. “We want to have them involved in scrutineering the cars.”
It has yet to be determined if GT2 cars could also be placed in the race, with SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel indicating potential interest in the concept.