Honda and Ferrari have committed as manufacturer entries for the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli, which is now set to see a record eight registered brands in the series this year.
It comes just days after news that Nissan would join returning manufacturers Audi, Mercedes-AMG, Bentley, Porsche as well as newcomers BMW in the five-round globe-trotting championship, which kicks off with this weekend’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
In all, 20 of the 28 GT3 cars competing at Mt. Panorama are official IGTC entries.
Ferrari, which claimed Bathurst victories in 2014 and 2017, will be represented by entries from HubAuto and Spirit of Race this weekend, while Honda has elected to skip the season-opener due to its new-for-2019 NSX GT3 Evo not being eligible.
The Japanese manufacturer, however, has pledged entries for the remaining IGTC rounds, beginning with the California 8 Hours at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in March.
As previously reported by Sportscar365, Honda had been working on an entry for the series.
The GT3-only IGTC now boasts more registered manufacturers than all four classes of the FIA World Endurance Championship combined.
“The addition of seventh and eighth full-season manufacturers, and especially those of Ferrari and Honda’s standing, underlines the growing significance of the Intercontinental GT Challenge on the world stage,” said SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel.
“A global championship featuring five of GT3’s biggest endurance races deserves a stellar entry list, and that is exactly what Intercontinental GT Challenge has assembled ahead of its fourth season.”
Manufacturers are permitted to nominate a maximum of four cars per round, although only the two best-placed entries will score points towards the overall manufacturers’ championship.
Drivers competing in all nominated entries will score points towards their respective overall championship while amateur drivers are also eligible for Bronze drivers’ championship points, subject to registration.
Audi heads into the weekend as three-time and defending champions, having narrowly edged out Mercedes-AMG for the 2018 title.