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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Bathurst Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from Bathurst; IGTC season-opener…

Photo: John Dagys

***GT3 cars took to the streets of Bathurst for the first-ever ‘Town to Track’ parade on Thursday. One car from each manufacturer completed a lap of the Mt. Panorama circuit before driving to the city center for a pre-race event and driver autograph session, in similar fashion to the Total 24 Hours of Spa.

***The entry list has been reduced to 40 cars, with one of the Ginetta Australia Ginetta G55 GT4s electing not to take part in the event. The team’s solo entry will be driven by Brad Schumacher, Jimmy Vernon and Karl Reindler. Click Here for the finalized entry list. 

***Erebus Motorsport Virgin Australia Supercars Championship driver Anton de Pasquale, meanwhile, has been a late addition to the grid, Keith Kassulke, Paul Morris former open-wheel ace Paul Tracy in the No. 91 MARC Cars Australia MARC II V8.

***Tracy, who was part of NBC Sports’ broadcast team in last weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, is making his Bathurst debut. 

***While originally not scheduled to attend, BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt has also made the trip from Daytona to support Team Schnitzer in its first race without longtime team principal Charly Lamm, who suddenly passed away last week. 

“I want to stand at BMW Team Schnitzer’s side at Bathurst,” Marquardt said. “We will be made all the more aware of how deeply we miss Charly this weekend. We will endeavor to honor him with a good result again at Mt. Panorama.”

***BMW is one of the record eight manufacturers now set to take on the IGTC this year, following Wednesday’s news of Ferrari and Honda joining the grid for the expanded five-round season.

***Paddock rumors suggest that Aston Martin and Lamborghini may also register as manufacturers, beginning with the second round of the season at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The entry fee for manufacturers is €60,000 ($69,000 USD). 

***A new in-car warning light system has been introduced for this weekend’s race. Tied into the Motec Balance of Performance monitoring device, the system will alert drivers of local yellows, safety car periods or red flag and is designed to compliment the existing trackside-based flag marshal and warning light systems already in place.

***The liveries on the pair of EBM Porsche 911 GT3 Rs are inspired by Manthey’s signature ‘Grello’ scheme, according to team principal Earl Bamber, who is targeting the continuation of the paint scheme, designed by Porsche China, for future GT3 races later this year.

“The idea would be, if we did another event like IGTC, we would again always run the black cars,” Bamber told Sportscar365. “Maybe we’d remove the silver fern if there’s sponsors, but that’s the idea, to create something iconic for the future and we always run these sort of cars.”

***Porsche 911 GT3 R project manager Sebastian Golz told Sportscar365 they expect an increased presence of customer teams with its new 2019-spec model, with Manthey set to provide technical support to teams, in a similar form to this weekend with EBM.

***The legendary German squad is set to focus its racing efforts around the Nürburgring 24 and VLN competition this year, in addition to operating Porsche’s factory GTE-Pro effort in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

***Jaxon Evans is set for his first race as a Porsche Junior, with the 22-year-old Kiwi joining Competition Motorsports’ lineup in place of Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell, who has been promoted to the German manufacturer’s full-season IGTC squad. 

***Evans got his first laps in the GT3-spec Porsche in a rollout at Queensland Raceway last week, having characterized it as a “Cup car on steroids.” 

***While set for his first season of Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup competition, Evans will be sharing an apartment in Stuttgart with Campbell, who has been Germany-based for the last two years. “We’ve been good friends for the past five years and we both share the same ambition to get to the top of the Porsche Motorsport pyramid,” Evans said.

***A number of cars, including the No. 999 GruppeM Mercedes-AMG GT3, No. 42 Team Schnitzer BMW M6 GT3 and No. 912 EBM Porsche, arrived from November’s FIA GT World Cup in Macau. Of note, EBM’s No. 911 car was driven by Earl Bamber in the 2016 race.

***The pair of R-Motorsport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3s, meanwhile, were sea-freighted from the Hankook 24 Hours of COTA in November according to team director Sam Hignett, who indicated to Sportscar365 that the Jota Sport/Arden-run squad is not scheduled to contest a full IGTC season.

***Hignett confirmed the team expects to take delivery of Aston Martin’s all-new Vantage GT3s next month ahead of a planned Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup return.

***Pirelli’s P Zero DHD2 tire makes its Australian debut this weekend, completing the tire standardization for the IGTC season. Previously, the Italian tire manufacturer utilized the DHC compound for Bathurst.

“Bathurst encapsulates all the major challenges of GT competition in one race, on an iconic track that is well known for its demands and excitement,” said Pirelli circuit activity manager Matteo Braga.

***The DHD2 will also be utilized in the Australian GT Championship for the first time this year.

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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