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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Bathurst Saturday Notebook

John Dagys’ Saturday notebook on eve of Bathurst 12 Hour…

Photo: Bathurst 12H

***In addition to the two-place grid penalty for the pole-sitting No. 62 R-Motorsport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 for a pit speed infringement in Qualifying 1, both the No. 51 Sprit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 and No. 50 M Motorsport KTM X-Bow GT4 have been given ten and five-position grid penalties, respectively, for on-track incidents in practice.

***The Spirit of Race Ferrari, ironically, was involved in both, the first coming on Friday between Paul Dalla Lana and the No. 888 Team Vodafone Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Shane van Gisbergen, and contact between the KTM and Ferrari in final practice that was deemed the GT4 car’s responsibility.

***A total of 38 cars are set to take the start tomorrow, with all entries surviving today’s action following the weekend-ending accidents for the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R and No. 3 Melbourne Performance Centre Audi R8 LMS on Friday.

***BMW has yet to determine the lineup in the No. 42 Team Schnitzer BMW M6 GT3 for the remainder of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season beyond the already-confirmed Augusto Farfus, although BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt told Sportscar365 they’re aiming to keep the driving squad “as stable as possible” while juggling drivers’ schedules.

***Farfus is joined by Martin Tomczyk and former Bathurst 1000 winner Chaz Mostert this weekend, with the Australian in contention for additional races that don’t clash with his Virgin Australia Supercars commitments.

***Three of the four remaining IGTC rounds, including the Total 24 Hours of Spa and season-ending Kyalami 9 Hours, however, are on the same weekend as Supercars races. “Wherever we have the possibility to have Chaz in the car, we will try and obviously do so,” Marquardt said.

***Marquardt said he’s proud to have exported Mostert to the global stage, having utilized the 26-year-old in several European, Asian and American races over the last year. “I think it’s good we’ve turned the thing around,” he said. “It’s not [as much] European guys coming down here and trying to show the skills but also the other way around.”

***As was the case in last weekend’s Rolex 24 on the Team RLL-run BMWs, the Schnitzer BMW is running with a “Godspeed Charly” graphic on the rear of the car, in memory of the sudden passing of the team’s longtime team principal.

***The delivery of a brand-new Audi R8 LMS Evo took place in the Bathurst paddock, with Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke handing the 2019-spec car over to Vince Muriti, who had previously owned an Audi R8 LMS ultra.

***Bentley Team M-Sport is utilizing the same Continental GT3 chassis the team ran in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup season finale in Barcelona last year. According to Bentley Motorsport director Brian Gush, they will be put into a rotation of four factory chassis the manufacturer will campaign for its dual IGTC and Endurance Cup campaign.

***Gush told Sportscar365 that Bentley has received additional customer interest in the new-generation model, with one team “quite interested” in taking part in Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe. “In Europe, the market is quite mature,” Gush said. “Until people change their cars or switch cars. I think the biggest growth area is in America.”

***KCMG is set to feature an unchanged lineup for the balance of its first IGTC season according to team principal Paul Ip, although Katsumasa Chiyo is expected to miss next month’s California 8 Hours due to a clash with a pre-season Super GT test. 

***Porsche has yet to declare the teams it will use to field its two full-season IGTC driver lineups at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, with a decision expected within the next few weeks, according to Porsche 911 GT3 R project manager Sebastian Golz.

***It’s understood Wright Motorsports, which replaced Manthey Racing for last year’s season finale, will likely field at least one of Porsche’s all-factory driving squads.

***Golz, and Porsche’s director of GT factory motorsports Pascal Zurlinden, who is also on-site this weekend, have praised Earl Bamber’s efforts in assembling a two-car GT3 team on short notice. “The good thing is that he knows both sides,” Golz said. “As a driver he’s complaining about the team; as a team [owner] he can complain about the drivers!”

***Zurlinden agreed, adding:  “In the next races, the team bosses in the other programs [he races in as a driver] will find a new Earl Bamber.”

***One of the previous-generation EBM-run Porsches could remain in Australia following this weekend’s race, according to Golz, who said the event rules prohibiting new-generation GT3 machinery has actually played into the German manufacturer’s benefit in the rollout of its new-for-2019 contender.

“We have Daytona, Bathurst, Dubai, and everything is happening in January and February, and it makes it very difficult to provide spare parts on every continent. For us it’s a good situation if you can just drive the old car,” Golz said.

***Up to seven Porsches, split between old and new-generation models, are expected for Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia this year, with between 5-6 new cars already sold to Asian customers.

***Porsche and Bentley are not expected to participate in SRO’s ‘World Challenge’ manufacturer title, as both do not currently have entries represented in Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe (former Sprint Cup).

***The Brabham BT62 unofficially broke the track record at Mt. Panorama, with Luke Youlden recording a 1:58.694 lap in the $1.8 million Australian-built supercar during a demonstration run on Saturday afternoon.

***Youlden’s time was nearly six-tenths quicker than Christopher Mies’ record-setting lap of 1:59.291, set in an unrestricted Audi R8 LMS GT3 car during an official track event in November. Mies’ time still stands as the track record as the Brabham’s time did not take place during an official session.

***The Suzuka 10 Hours could feature upwards of 50 entries, with a significant level of interest expressed in the Asian leg of the IGTC. The event, which saw 35 GT3/GT300-spec cars in its inaugural running last year, has become a points-paying round for GT3 cars competing in Pirelli Super Taikyu.

***Watch full coverage of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour on the series’ official website, as well as the GT World YouTube page, beginning at Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET (6:30 p.m. UK time). In Australia, 7mate and the 7plus app will carry the race in its entirety from 5:30 a.m. AEDT on Sunday.

Laurent Mercier 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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