The opening round of this year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge – billed as ‘the only intercontinental series for the world’s top GT drivers, with Pirelli as exclusive tire supplier’ – gets underway this weekend at the famous Bathurst 12 Hours in Australia.
The Mount Panorama track is one of the most epic on the planet, with several changes in elevation and some truly demanding corners. Pirelli currently holds the track record, set two years ago in qualifying when there was still open tire competition.
Bathurst provides a formidable challenge for competitors, combining a technical section where it’s hard to overtake, with some faster sections that require massive bravery and commitment. Incidents are common, which has led to a high number of safety car periods in the past.
The Intercontinental GT Challenge showcases the best GT3 drivers in the world, in a very wide variety of cars. Some of the top stars include factory drivers such as Earl Bamber, Romain Dumas, Augusto Farfus, Robin Frijns, Pat Long, Alvaro Parente and Laurens Vanthoor. Local stars include Jamie Whincup, and Craig Lowndes as well as Kiwi drivers Scott McLaughlin and Shane Van Gisbergen.
There is also a GT4 category and two local classes (including one for V8 cars). In total, 12 manufacturers are represented in the 53-car field – but they all use the same tire.
Pirelli will bring its P Zero slick specifically designed for GT racing to Bathurst, which has been tried and tested in the Blancpain GT Series, plus a wet tire in case it rains. To cope with the demands of the circuit and expected hot weather during the day, as well as to provide the capability to double-stint, this tire comes in a hard compound only.
Last year, there were numerous safety car periods during the 12 hours, so tailoring the stop strategy to take advantage of these neutralizations proved to be key. The tires can be double-stinted, but with the race starting at 05:45 and then finishing the in the late afternoon, ambient temperatures can vary by 15 degrees centigrade or more, which also has an effect on tire wear and degradation.
“Contrary to previous years, we are bringing just one type of tire to the Bathurst 12 Hours this time,” explained Matteo Braga, Pirelli circuit activity manager. “This works equally well on a wide range of vehicle architectures and should have the effect of closing up the competition by removing a number of variables. As a result, this could be the hardest-fought race here yet. The surface at Bathurst is smooth and low-grip, but with high temperatures and challenging corners, there is a lot of work to do for the tires. It’s a circuit with very specific demands.”
The race gets underway on the 6.213-kilometre track at 05:45 on Sunday 4 February, following two qualifying sessions plus a top-10 grid shoot-out on Saturday. There are four practice sessions on Friday. For more information about the race, please visit: www.bathurst12hour.com.au
For more information about the four rounds of the SRO-promoted Intercontinental GT Challenge, please visit: www.
Practice for the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour starts on Friday, with qualifying on Saturday morning and the Top 10 Shootout on Saturday afternoon. The start of the race will be given at 5.45 local time on Sunday morning. The event will be streamed live on the Intercontinental GT Challenge website, its Facebook-page and on the GTWorld Youtube-channel.
Submitted by: Pirelli