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Intercontinental GT Challenge

AF Corse Rules Out Factory GT3 Entries for Bathurst, Kyalami

Ferrari to forgo opening two rounds of Intercontinental GT Challenge next year…

Photo: JEP/SRO

AF Corse will not enter factory-driven cars into the first two rounds of next year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season including the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.

Team principal Amato Ferrari told Sportscar365 that the Italian squad “never considered” running Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020s in the Pro class of the Bathurst race in Australia on Feb. 3-5 or the Kyalami 9 Hour in South Africa on Feb. 23-25.

The Ferrari 296 GT3 is replacing the 488 next year but the new vehicle won’t be eligible for the first two IGTC events because they take place before series organizer SRO Motorsports Group’s Balance of Performance test, which the 296 is required to attend.

Around that time, AF Corse will also be gearing up for its move to the Hypercar class of the FIA World Endurance Championship with a pair of factory Ferrari 499Ps.

“It never was in our plans, except if there are some clients who want to do it,” Ferrari said. “This year we did [Kyalami] because it was after the Spa 24 Hours and we were fighting for the Intercontinental championship.”

AF Corse is expected to run two Pro-class 296 GT3s in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup, which would include the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa IGTC round.

Ferrari stated that AF Corse “will see after Spa” whether it will contest the final two rounds of next year’s IGTC campaign at Indianapolis and Yas Marina.

It entered the eight-hour Indy race and the Gulf 12 Hours during the recently-concluded 2022 season and claimed a 1-2 result in the latter with factory drivers, signifying the last major victory for the 488 GT3.

However, SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel confirmed to Sportscar365 that Ferrari has not signed on as an IGTC manufacturer for 2023.

Ferrari’s sports car racing director Antonello Coletta reiterated that the first two rounds of next year’s IGTC will not involve any factory-driven 488s, describing Bathurst as “unfortunately impossible.”

But he indicated that Ferrari wants to return to the championship in 2024, for the first season in which the 296 GT3 can enter the full campaign.

“I hope that in two years, in 2024, we have a chance to come back to Bathurst, I remember when we won with an Australian team, it was an unbelievable situation,” Coletta said, referencing Maranello Motorsport’s victories in 2014 and 2017.

“I would like to repeat it. Last but not least, it’s important for the Intercontinental GT Challenge. I hope to come back, but in 2024.”

AF Corse’s next major race is the Rolex 24 at Daytona where it plans to field three cars, all as part of Michelin Endurance Cup programs.

One is an Oreca 07 Gibson for LMP2 driver Francois Perrodo, who is set to be joined at Daytona by Julien Canal and two yet-to-be-announced co-drivers.

AF Corse is also gearing up to run two Ferrari 296 GT3s for what will be the car’s global race debut.

Factory driver Antonio Fuoco is set to drive for Cetilar Racing, which announced its Endurance Cup plans back in March, while the other lineup consists of Miguel Molina, Simon Mann, Luis Perez Companc and Francesco Castellacci.

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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