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GT World Challenge Australia

17 Cars Entered for Phillip Island Opener

Nine GT3 cars entered in top Pro-Am class for opening round, with Mercedes-AMG, Audi and Ferrari all represented…

Photo: GT World Challenge Australia

This weekend’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia powered by AWS curtain-raiser at Phillip Island is set to be contested by 17 cars.

An entry list for the season-opening double header at the Victoria track was released on Tuesday, featuring nine GT3s in the top Pro-Am class in addition to seven Am class entries and a single car in the GT Trophy category.

Headlining the entry is the new Arise Racing GT outfit that is entering two Ferrari 296 GT3s, one for reigning champion Liam Talbot and Chaz Mostert and the other for Jaxon Evans and Elliott Schutte, as announced by the team in February.

The only other multi-car effort in Pro-Am comes from Melbourne Performance Centre with a trio of Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo IIs, with two driver combinations, Tim Miles/Brendon Leitch and Brad Schumacher/Will Brown, having been announced previously.

The third entry is shared by ex-Supercars driver-turned adult actress Renee Gracie, last year’s GT Trophy champion, and Paul Stokell, who drove for MPC last year in Am.

An additional Audi will be driven by Mark Rosser and Alex Peroni with Team BRM, while the remainder of the Pro-Am entry is made up of one-car Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo crews: Grove Racing (Stephen Grove/Brenton Grove), Tigani Motorsport (Jayden Ojeda/Paul Lucchitti) and Triple Eight Race Engineering (Declan Fraser/Peter Hackett).

With both Schumacher and Stokell moving up from Am to Pro-Am this year, the highest-placed returning Am car is a Mercedes-AMG entered by RAM Racing for Michael Sheargold and Garth Walden, who placed third in last year’s class standings.

Making up the class entry are three more Mercedes-AMGs from Tigani Motorsport, Tony Bates Motorsport and Black Wolf Motorsport and a trio of Audis, two entered by MPC and another by Tigani under the Valmont Racing banner.

The solo GT Trophy entry is a Trading Garage-entered Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, which brings the number of manufacturers on the grid to four.

“There’s been great support from the teams and drivers for SRO Australia’s first season at the helm of Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS,” said SRO Australia CEO Ben McMellan.

“It’s the most competitive field that we have seen, with the the most outright contenders that have entered a Fanatec GT season. It’s a very exciting line-up of cars and stars.

“We have a batch of new cars that have arrived, and the Ferraris are a big addition to the field. The Ferrari brand is highly prestigious all around the world, so that makes it a real positive for our local fans.

“It’s going to be very hard to pick a winner. There’s several entries in both Pro-Am and Am that have the ability to win their class. It’s by far the most competitive field we’ve ever seen in Australia.”

After a private test day on Thursday, the Phillip Island weekend begins in earnest with two practice sessions on Friday, with qualifying taking place on Saturday morning ahead of the start of the first race at 1 p.m. local time (Friday 11 p.m. EDT).

The second race is slated for Sunday at 2:55 p.m. local time (12:55 a.m. EDT).

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

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