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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Bathurst Saturday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Saturday notebook on the eve of Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour…

Photo: John Dagys

***Mount Panorama claimed at least four additional cars on Saturday, with the No. 62 R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT3, No. 777 The Bend Motorsport Park Mercedes-AMG GT3, No. 27 HubAuto Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 and No. 92 Scandia Racing by Racer Industries Marc II all out of the race after accidents. 

***They join the previously withdrawn No. 35 KCMG Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, which crashed out in the hands of Josh Burdon on Friday.

***The rather unknown 59Racing team surprised with a second place run in qualifying by Alvaro Parente in the McLaren 720S GT3, which is undertaking its “first big challenge” according to co-driver Ben Barnicoat, who feels the Australian team, made up of Virgin Australia Supercars personnel, could play to their benefit.

“A lot of the rules here are Supercars rules rather than IGTC/SRO rules,” Barnicoat said. “For sure having that pedigree within the team will help us tomorrow where we can get that advantage over some European teams.”

***The No. 888 Tripe Eight Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo nearly missed the shootout after issues with the car’s anti-rollbar system, according to Mercedes-AMG factory driver Max Goetz. Shane van Gisbergen qualified 8th.

***GT3 teams are permitted up to 12 sets of Pirelli PZero DHD2 tires for the entire weekend, with an additional set given to the teams that advanced to the Top 10 Shootout.

***Only four out of the 11 GT3 manufacturers have returned with the same cars from last year: Bentley, BMW, Ferrari and Nissan, resulting in significant year-to-year Balance of Performance changes to the majority of the field.

***Of the same cars and Bathurst debuting Evos, nearly all have faced increases in minimum weight. Sportscar365 understands the Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo is 60 kg heavier, but with a 2 mm larger air restrictor compared to its previous-gen car at this race last year.

***The Bentley Continental GT3 and BMW M6 GT3, which are technically unchanged, have seen minimum weight increases of 20 and 35 kg, respectively, with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo just 5 kg heavier than last year’s car.

***Boost pressures for turbocharged cars have been reduced since last year’s IGTC season finale, which ran under a last-minute Category H (high altitude) BoP table.

***Both the turbocharged Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and Honda NSX GT3 Evos have been struggling in the near-record heat, which reached 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius) on Saturday. Cooler temperatures in the low 90s, and a chance of afternoon showers, are in the forecast for race day.

***The Honda has lost 11 km/h in straight-line speed as a result of the high temps according to NSX GT3 program manager Lee Niffenegger, who is on-site this weekend as part of HPD’s support of the global program.

***R-Motorsport is expected to announce a full-season commitment to IGTC shortly, although team principal Dr. Florian Kamelger declined to confirm the program when asked by Sportscar365.

***Kamelger said they’ve been “battling” the new-gen Aston since its debut last year although feel they’ve recently turned the corner. “It’s been quite tricky to get on top of the car, to be honest,” he said. “To be fair to everybody involved, the first season of trying to get on top of the car, it wasn’t too easy but we made the most of it.”

***Former Porsche LMP1 race engineer Jeromy Moore, who was the technical leader for the Porsche 911 RSR-19, has remained a technical consultant with the German manufacturer despite his recent departure to Triple Eight as its new technical director.

***Absolute Racing is planning to run two Porsche 911 GT3 Rs in the Suzuka 10 Hours according to team director Ingo Matter, although Matter told Sportscar365 that it’s unclear if the second car could be a Pro-Am or Silver class entry.

***While the Shanghai-based team has been unaffected by the Coronavirus, other members of the motorsports community have been challenged, including Jackie Chan DC Racing team co-owner David Cheng, who is stranded in London and unable to return to his family and home in Wuhan, the center of the epidemic.

***Sportscar365 understands questions surround the start of the 2020 China GT Championship season, which is due to kick off at Sepang in March followed by a street race in Wuhan.

***Craig Lowndes has been ruled out of being part of Porsche’s factory driver lineup for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with its director of factory motorsports Pascal Zurlinden confirming that the four Porsche 911 RSRs will all feature Porsche-contracted drivers.

***Lowndes’ only potential hope with Porsche in Le Mans could come with a customer team in GTE-Am.

***Zurlinden said Porsche will still have a presence in Macau even if the event doesn’t retain its FIA GT World Cup status. “We have so many customers who are coming from Asia and they say from a sponsorship point of view, Macau is very important,” he said. “It’s one of the most important races in Asia.”

***A total of 60 new-gen Porsche 911 GT3 Rs were sold last year according to Zurlinden.

***SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel said he’d be happy with “four or five” registered manufacturers in GT World Challenge powered by AWS this year following the inaugural duel between Mercedes-AMG and Ferrari last year.

***Ratel confirmed that the entry fee to become a registered GTWC manufacturer is €120,000 ($133,000), compared to last year, which was included in the GTWC America entry fee. Ratel said the fee is now “linked” to prize money.

***Mercedes-AMG, Porsche, Ferrari and Bentley appear to be most likely manufacturers with cars in all three of the GTWC championships this year, although it’s unclear if they will all commit to the entry fee.

***SRO has established the ‘Laps for Cash’ bushfire donation initiative, where it will donate $5 AUD for every racing lap completed by all IGTC-nominated entries in the race to the Australian Lions Club Foundation National Bushfire Appeal.

***The organization of dedicated volunteers will distribute 100 percent of donations to communities and wildlife affected by the ongoing bushfires, with teams and fans encouraged to either donate directly or pledge a per-lap amount. Click Here to make donations.

***SRO pit lane reporter Dakota Jane, the newlywed wife of FFF Racing Team owner/driver Andrea Caldarelli, has been involved in an initiative to make special pouches and blankets for animals affected by the bushfires. Watch a video interview with Dakota by the BBC here.

***The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour gets underway Sunday at 5:45 a.m. local time (Saturday, 1:45 p.m. ET/6:45 p.m. GMT) with live TV coverage throughout Australia on FOX Sports Channel 506, Kayo Sports and 7Mate. Live streaming for international viewers can be found here.

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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