Five manufacturers are set to take part in the Intercontinental GT Challenge, which kicks off its third season with this weekend’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
New-for-2018 rules sees only manufacturer-nominated entries score points in the global GT3 championship, along with the addition of a title for the top-scoring Bronze-rated driver.
ENTRY LIST: IGTC Bathurst
Audi, Bentley, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche have registered for the four-round series, totaling 16 nominated entries out of the 53-car field for this weekend’s race.
The SRO-run series, meanwhile, reverts to 2016 rules, where each manufacturer is permitted to nominate up to four cars in each event.
Previously, all cars and drivers scored points towards the championship, which was won by Audi and Markus Winkelhock in the shortened three-round season last year.
Audi returns with four works-supported entries fielded by Melbourne Performance Centre and WRT, featuring defending champion Winkelhock as well as factory drivers Christopher Mies, Christopher Haase, Frederic Vervisch and Kelvin van der Linde, who makes his Bathurst debut.
Robin Frijns and newly named factory driver Dries Vanthoor, meanwhile, headline WRT’s lineup.
Four Mercedes-AMG GT3s have been nominated, fielded by Strakka Racing and Scott Taylor Motorsports and including factory aces Maxi Buhk, Maxi Gotz and Raffaele Marciello, along with Alvaro Parente, who makes his Mercedes debut.
Manthey Racing, Craft-Bamboo Racing, Competition Motorsports and Black Swan Racing represent Porsche, including the all-factory lineups of Romain Dumas, Dirk Werner and Fred Makowicki (Manthey) and Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor and Kevin Estre (Craft-Bamboo).
Additionally, Patrick Long lines up in the U.S.-based Competition Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, which finished second overall and claimed Pro-Am class honors last year.
Bentley Team M-Sport, in the final factory-run outing for the current-generation Bentley Continental GT3, and a pair of YNA Autosport-run McLaren 650S GT3s complete the IGTC entry for Bathurst.
M-Sport’s entries again features the all-factory lineup of Andy Soucek, Maxime Soulet, Vincent Abril, Steven Kane, Guy Smith and new Bentley Boy Jules Gounon, while Shane van Gisbergen, Craig Lowndes and Come Ledogar headline YNA’s effort.
BMW, which has a pair of M6 GT3 cars represented on the grid this weekend from the BMW Team Schnitzer and SRM outfits, have opted not to enter the IGTC season.
New Bronze Title Established
A new title for the highest-scoring Bronze-rated driver has been established, which is expected to see participation from several top gentlemen drivers across multiple manufacturers.
Strakka’s Nick Leventis, along with David Calvert-Jones (Competition Porsche), Tim Pappas (Black Swan Porsche), Kenny Habul (SunEnergy1 Mercedes) and Paul Dalla Lana (WRT Audi) are those among eligible for points this weekend.
Reigning Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup champion Stuart Leonard, who is in one of WRT’s Audis this weekend, is rated Silver by the FIA.
Calvert Jones, who finished 2nd overall at Bathurst last year and fifth in the California 8 Hours, would have won the title last year, with the U.S.-based Australian having finished fourth in the overall IGTC drivers’ standings.