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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Bathurst Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Friday notebook from Mount Panorama as cars take to track…

Photo: John Dagys

***With the No. 35 KCMG Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 withdrawn due to chassis damage from Josh Burdon’s accident in Practice 1, it leaves the Hong Kong-based team’s No. 18 car of Alexandre Imperatori, Edoardo Liberati and Joao Paulo de Oliveira as its remaining hope for this weekend’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.

***Sportscar365 understands that Bathurst is likely to be the team’s final race with Nissan, with KCMG planning additional Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli outings with the Porsche 911 GT3 Rs it will campaign in NLS (formerly VLN) races and the Nürburgring 24 this year.

***Nissan has not been registered as an IGTC manufacturer for the 2020 season.

***A total of 22 cars will be eligible to score IGTC points on Sunday between the nine GT3 manufacturers registered in the global GT3 series. Click Here for the IGTC-specific entry list, which was released on Friday.

***The IGTC points-earning entries are identifiable this weekend with white Liqui-Moly windshield banners.

***New-for-2020 rules sees manufacturers nominate up to three GT3 Pro class entries out of the four maximum berths, along with the possibility of at least one Pro-Am or Silver class crew. As was the case last year, manufacturer points will be earned from the two highest-finishing nominated entries in each race.

***The Total 24 Hours of Spa will be the exception to the rule, which will allow each brand to nominate up to six cars, including four Pro lineups and two from the remaining classes, but with its best three highest-placed cars scoring points.

***It’s understood there are a dozen nominated entries to score points in the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship, which also opens its 2020 season as part of the Bathurst 12 Hour this weekend.

***Both of the M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3s missed Practice 4, with the No. 7 car undergoing an engine change and the No. 8 entry battling a sensor issue. Both cars are expected to be back on track on Saturday morning.

***SunEnergy1 Racing’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 took part in Friday’s sessions without a functional dash according to team owner/driver Kenny Habul, who told Sportscar365 that the issue has been lingering since the car’s last race at Suzuka last year.

***The No. 62 R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 missed all of Practice 1 and only completed a single lap in the hands of Oliver Caldwell late in Practice 2. Team principal Florian Kamelger confirmed to Sportscar365 that a driveshaft issue was the root of the issue.

***Maro Engel’s clout with the wall late in Practice 2 was caused by a right-rear suspension failure. Engel told Sportscar365 the failure happened as he rounded Turn 2, causing the No. 77 Craft-Bamboo Black Falcon Mercedes AMG GT3 Evo to loop around and back into the concrete, suffering minor rear-end damage.

***The No. 12 NED Racing Team Porsche 911 GT3 R underwent an engine change after Practice 2. The car stopped at Forrest Elbow late in the session in the hands of Romain Dumas and had to be flat-towed back to the pits by a recovery vehicle. The EBM/McElrea Racing-run crew remarkably changed the engine in less than two hours and was back out midway through Practice 3.

***David Calvert-Jones has not ruled out additional IGTC appearances this year with EBM/NED, although said it will come down to available budget. “Maybe with Earl if we can do a deal for the next race then of course we’ll go, but like all motor racing it comes down to budget,” he told Sportscar365.

***Unlike previous years when entered by Competition Motorsports, Calvert-Jones does not own the Porsche chassis he is driving this weekend, with EBM purchasing the car primarily for use in GT World Challenge Asia powered by AWS this year.

***Grove Racing, which is making its Bathurst GT3 debut this weekend, is utilizing a Herberth Motorsport-owned chassis, which Stephen and Brenton Grove will also use for the Total 24 Hours of Spa in a planned GT3 Am entry that will run under the Herberth banner.

***Stephen Grove told Sportscar365 they are “tossing the idea” of purchasing its own Porsche chassis and leaving it in Europe as part of its planned move to full-time GT3 racing.

***Raffaele Marciello is slated to contest the full IGTC season with GruppeM Racing, meaning the Italian will not contest the Total 24 Hours of Spa with his GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS team. “It was important for him to drive with us at Spa,” GruppeM team director Alex Zoechling told Sportscar365.

***It hasn’t yet been announced which team Marciello will contest GTWC Europe with, although it’s understood his 2019 co-driver Vincent Abril will not return to Team AKKA-ASP.

***David Pittard is at Bathurst as an “extra” with Walkenhorst Motorsport. The Englishman was slated to drive the second of the team’s BMW M6 GT3s this weekend, which was withdrawn due to logistics issues.

***Pittard told Sportscar365 that his flights to Australia were already booked when it became clear he would not be able to drive and decided to attend anyway to make the most of his time with the team as a “learning experience” as he prepares to tackle the remainder of the IGTC season in the second car.

***SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel told Sportscar365 that the Indianapolis 8 Hour will not be moved to avoid a clash with the ADAC GT Masters season finale at the Sachsenring due to no available alternative weekeend.

***It’s understood there were talks between ADAC and SRO for each series to move one of the two affected dates, which sees a second clash between the Suzuka 10 Hours and GT Masters round at Zandvoort.

“The weekend after [Indianapolis] is Petit [Le Mans],” Ratel told Sportscar365. “The weekend before is Budapest [GTWC Europe Sprint Cup]. We have managed to create this 26-race calendar with no clashes and it’s very, very interlinked. If you move something, it’s a domino effect and very complicated.”

***Another clash, between Macau and the IGTC season-ending Kyalami 9 Hour in November, will see the South African round moved back by one week should Macau be confirmed again as a FIA GT World Cup event, according to Ratel.

Slade Perrins contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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