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    Intercontinental american  GT Challenge     trans am series    Sports Car Club of America    american  GT Challenge 


Intercontinental  & america GT Challenge

INTERCONTINENTAL GT CHALLENGE POWERED BY PIRELLI

Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli represents the highest echelon of long-distance GT racing.Established in 2016, the series’ purpose couldn’t be simpler: reward the manufacturer and drivers who achieve the best collective results in the world’s greatest standalone endurance events. The proliferation of GT3, built on more than a decade of manufacturer involvement and SRO’s Balance of Performance stability, has resulted in it becoming the de facto senior class for all of the world’s most prestigious GT races. This, as well as using the same Pirelli tyres, offers manufacturers an incentive to compete in all such events by employing regional customer teams without the expense of freighting cars around the world.


MANTHEY EMA AND PORSCHE BREAK GOUNON’S REPCO BATHURST 12 HOUR STREAK

> Campbell, Guven and Vanthoor conquer the Mountain
> SunEnergy1 and Wash It Team MPC complete overall podium
> Result:
2024 Repco Bathurst 12 Hour

 

 

Manthey EMA trio Matt Campbell, Ayhancan Guven and Laurens Vanthoor have ended Porsche’s near-four-year Intercontinental GT Challenge victory drought by winning the Repco Bathurst 12 Hour.

The ‘Grello’ 911 GT3 R looked set to take a reasonably comfortable win until a late caution period moved another six cars to within striking distance. But Campbell handled the pressure to finish 2.6s clear of Jules Gounon (SunEnergy1) and Christopher Haase (Wash It Team MPC).

Manthey EMA’s triumph also ended Gounon’s bid for an unprecedented fourth straight 12 Hour win, as well as SunEnergy1’s third. The Mercedes-AMG he shared with Kenny Habul and Luca Stolz wasn’t in contention early on but had begun inching its way towards the front by the half-distance mark.

MPC, meanwhile, moved from fifth to third with seven minutes remaining when WRT’s BMW and Phantom Global’s Porsche lost momentum while fighting Gounon.

The result was perhaps a little unfair on Phantom’s Jaxon Evans – who set fastest lap – plus his co drivers Bastian Buus and Joel Eriksson who drove a superb race after starting 18th. 

Both BMWs were contenders early on. Indeed, pole-sitter Sheldon van der Linde led the opening stint. But the same WRT-run M4 didn’t make half-distance after Charles Weerts crashed spectacularly at The Cutting while attempting to pass a GT4 car.

The team’s sister M4 shared by Maxime Martin, Raffaele Marciello and Valentino Rossi almost secured a podium but slipped to fifth in the shake-up involving Gounon, Hasse and Evans. 


PORSCHE POWERS TO MOUNT PANORAMA VICTORY

The event’s customary start just before dawn is one of global motorsport’s great spectacles. And this year’s sunrise didn’t disappoint. However, it wasn’t until the first round of pitstops just after the opening hour that the race really came alive when WRT team-mates Rossi and Weerts went wheel to wheel over the mountain.

That was enough to unleash Grello – now in the hands of Guven – which took the lead and stayed there for most of the next five hours. 

But frequent Safety Car interruptions, most notably for Weerts’ accident at The Cutting, prevented the Porsche from pulling too far clear. Frequent heavy rain also played its part, but it was an incorrectly served drive-through penalty for a pitlane infringement and subsequent need to stop again that put Manthey EMA on the back foot.

That handed the advantage to an unlikely contender in the shape of Phantom, whose 911 qualified well down the order but steadily moved forward over the opening half of the race. Eriksson, Buus and Evans all played their part in the Chinese squad’s comeback drive that eclipsed that of several more seasoned performers.

But it was during a particularly crazy phase of the race, between the eighth and ninth hours, that Manthey EMA’s Porsche reasserted its superiority. Campbell was typically fast in all conditions, but Guven’s grunt work also played a key role in getting the 911 back towards the front.

Nevertheless, the team’s alternative strategy clouded its car’s true place in the pecking order until the penultimate round of stops.

By that stage SunEnergy1 had emerged as a true contender after the majority of Mercedes-AMG’s other fancied entries suffered issues of varying degrees and WRT’s sole remaining BMW lost time at the final corner after being forced off track.

Nevertheless, Martin was still one of seven drivers that could have won the race when the final Safety Car was withdrawn with 30 minutes remaining. 

Campbell – who’d led by 13 seconds prior to the caution – initially built a small gap back to Gounon who was visibly wringing the neck of his Mercedes-AMG in an effort to catch one Porsche while defending from another. However, his task was undoubtedly compromised by traffic through The Dipper that allowed Campbell to extend his lead to six seconds.

Evans’ subsequent attempt to take second resulted in him being shuffled back to fourth behind Haase who was in the right place at the right time to jump both the Porsche and Martin’s delayed BMW.

Haase shared the Audi – which isn’t eligible to score IGTC points – with Kelvin van der Linde and Liam Talbot. That car was there or thereabouts all day, and even led at one point before following a breakdown truck into the pitlane compromised its victory chances.

National Storage Racing’s Broc Feeney, Will Brown and Mick Grenier completed the top-six after a largely clean run, while Scott Taylor Motorsport’s Cameron Waters, Thomas Randle and Craig Lowndes finished seventh.

Manthey EMA also won the event’s Pro-Am class thanks to Alessio Picariello, Jordan King and Yasser Shahin who recovered after being spun into the McPhillamy Park gravel trap in hour four.

Further back, Prince Jefri Ibrahim overcame a broken splitter to score maximum Intercontinental Independent Cup points.

IGTC now moves on to the Nordschleife and the ADAC Ravenol 24h Nurburgring on May 30 – 2 June.

 


 

ONE LAP WONDER! WRT’S VAN DER LINDE ROMPS TO REPCO BATHURST 12 HOUR POLE

> BMW driver wins coveted Allan Simonsen Award
> Feeney and Triple Eight share front row
> Result:
Combined Qualifying

 

 

Sheldon van der Linde, Team WRT and BMW required just one lap to bag pole position for the Repco Bathurst 12 Hour, which kicks off this year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge campaign on Sunday.

The South African earned the right to contest the Pirelli Top-10 Shootout by first beating his co-driver Dries Vanthoor in a game of rock, paper, scissors prior to qualifying! Third place then saw him advance to the showdown where a 2m01.9810s proved unbeatable.

Indeed, so confident were WRT that Van der Linde immediately pitted and watched on as the likes of Broc Feeney, Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Jordan Love attempted to beat the time.

Feeney had earlier topped qualifying with a lap marginally quicker than SVDL’s Shootout benchmark but couldn’t replicate it in the final 15-minute session. He and National Storage Racing’s Triple Eight-run Mercedes-AMG therefore start in the same position as last year after ultimately falling 0.256s shy of the BMW’s best.

But he did, at least, exact some revenge on Engel who beat him to pole 12 months ago. The German and GruppeM line up third after lapping another two tenths slower than Van der Linde.

Matt Campbell set the pace in Group 1 and was also quicker than both Stolz and Love en route to fourth in Manthey EMA’s ‘Grello’ Porsche.

Stolz, meanwhile, recorded the fifth fastest time overall with the same SunEnergy1 Mercedes-AMG in which he, Kenny Habul and Jules Gounon won last season.

MPC’s Audis occupy sixth and seventh after Ricardo Feller narrowly edged out Kelvin van der Linde in Group 1, while WRT’s second BMW – driven by Maxime Martin – starts eighth overall.

Manthey EMA’s previous generation Porsche and Triple Eight JMR’s Mercedes-AMG start as the leading Pro-Am contenders on row five. 

Sunday’s race goes green at 05:45 AET / GMT +11. International fans can watch live on SRO’s GT World channel, which is geoblocked locally due to broadcast agreements. 

Fox Sports, Kayo and Seven Network will show the same live coverage in Australia and New Zealand.

 

_____

 

 


GRUPPEM WINS GULF 12 HOURS AS GOUNON AND MERCEDES-AMG SEAL INTERCONTINENTAL GT CHALLENGE POWERED BY PIRELLI TITLES

> Hui crowned IGTC Independent Cup champion
>
Final championship standings
> Result:
Gulf 12 Hours

 

 

Mercedes-AMG and Jules Gounon are the 2023 Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli champions after GruppeM Racing won the globe-trotting GT3 series’ finale at the Lenovo Gulf 12 Hours.

The #99 Mercedes-AMG driven by Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Mikael Grenier started from pole but forged an unusual path to victory over Valentino Rossi, Dries Vanthoor and Nick Yelloly whose Team WRT BMW finished 13 seconds adrift. 

Gounon, meanwhile, was content to complete the podium with his 2 Seas co-drivers Fabian Schiller and Maximilian Goetz. First and third was also enough for Mercedes-AMG to turn its nine-point starting deficit into a five-point winning margin over BMW in the manufacturers’ standings. 

Its cause was undoubtedly helped by WRT’s other M4 encountering an exhaust issue in the fourth hour that cost the entry shared by Sheldon van der Linde, Charles Weerts and Gounon’s main title rival Philipp Eng six laps. The car was still classified sixth in IGTC’s manufacturers’ rankings but that wasn’t enough to prevent Mercedes-AMG from retaining its crown.

Further back, Sky Tempesta’s Jonathan Hui clinched the Independent Cup title by finishing second in class behind Antares Au (Herberth Motorsport) who couldn’t quite overturn his rival’s advantage despite taking a third straight victory.

Kenny Habul had looked set to win on the road until a late issue dropped SunEnergy1’s Mercedes-AMG to third.


GRUPPEM SETS UP MERCEDES-AMG’S CORONATION

Just like last year, Gulf 12 Hours’ unusual pitstop regulation gave the five Pro entries an opportunity to play with strategy. So although GruppeM started from pole, Engel and Vanthoor were both in for the first time at the end of lap one, while their overall rivals followed suit inside the first 10 minutes.

Two lengthy Full Course Yellow periods followed soon after when first Shaun Balfe and then Stephen Grove crashed heavily. Between them, the Pro entries continued to stop at regular intervals, which left Am and Pro-Am cars out front until the start of the fifth hour.

Indeed, it was Herberth’s Am crewed Porsche that led overall and IGTC’s classification until Goetz – who earlier passed Rossi on track and GruppeM through strategy – finally restored a semblance of order.

His 2 Seas car was able to steadily pull clear of the BMW but had made one fewer imposed stop than GruppeM, which remained a threat despite running a lap down. And when Grenier wheel-banged his way past Schiller just before half-distance, the Mann Filter-backed Mercedes-AMG was suddenly a serious contender again.

Still, it was 2 Seas’ decision to change brakes under another long FCY period that helped WRT and GruppeM move ahead. Rossi sprinted clear of Stolz when racing resumed to give BMW a chance of winning the manufacturers’ title. Those hopes faded at the next driver change, however, when a jammed pedal box cost the car time and, crucially, first place to GruppeM.

Yelloly, who then had to drive in an awkward seating position, was in physical discomfort after making way for Vanthoor who, like his co-driver, was unable to make serious inroads into Engel’s lead. The gap briefly reduced to around eight seconds but went back out to 13 when the Belgian picked up a five-second penalty for multiple track limits infringements.

From there, Engel completed the final stint with relative ease to collect his and GruppeM’s first IGTC wins since Suzuka 2018. First place also helped Stolz finish runner-up in the drivers’ standings behind Gounon who – like Engel – celebrated his title with donuts on the in-lap.

GruppeM’s second factory entry finished fourth but never recovered from making a pitstop under the first FCY period that didn’t count towards its mandatory 10. Nevertheless, the result marked solid first factory outings for Mercedes-AMG Young Driver Test winners Frank Bird and Lorenzo Ferrari who joined Lucas Auer in the #77 car.

Three non-IGTC teams – Car Collection, Optimum and Kessel – were next up in the overall classification, while Herberth’s Independent Cup-winning trio of Au, Tim Heinemann and Matteo Cairoli scored fourth place Intercontinental points for Porsche in eighth. Likewise the sister 911 of Daniel Allemann, Ralf Bohn and Alfred Renauer who sensationally led outright during the first two hours.

But there was disappointment for Eng, WRT and BMW who saw the chequered flag despite their earlier exhaust issue. The Austrian also ultimately slipped behind Stolz and Vanthoor in the final drivers’ standings as a consequence.

Intercontinental returns for a ninth season in a little over two months’ time when the 2024 campaign begins Down Under at the Repco Bathurst 12 Hour on February 16-18.

 

 


GRUPPEM AND 2 SEAS EARN MERCEDES-AMG FRONT ROW LOCKOUT FOR GULF 12 HOURS

> Stolz, Grenier and Engel start finale from pole
> Au and Herberth lead Independent Cup contingent in third
> Result:
Combined Qualifying

 

 

Mercedes-AMG, GruppeM Racing and Maro Engel have made it two Gulf 12 Hours pole positions in as many attempts at Yas Marina after topping a red flag interrupted qualifying session with the help of Mikael Grenier and Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli title contender Luca Stolz.

The trio triumphed on average across four 15-minute segments, the second of which was significantly delayed when Car Collection’s Porsche caused major barrier damage. An accident at the end of Q3 involving the 7TSIX Mercedes-AMG then added further time to a combined qualifying session that ultimately lasted 70 minutes longer than scheduled.

2 Seas’ Maximilian Goetz, Fabian Schiller and Jules Gounon helped Mercedes-AMG lock out the front row for a race in which it must beat BMW if it is to have any chance of retaining the IGTC manufacturers’ crown. 

Gounon will also be satisfied to see his main rival for the drivers’ title, Philipp Eng, starting down in eighth, while WRT’s other BMW – which features another contender in the shape of Dries Vanthoor – was pipped to third by Herberth Motorsport’s Porsche. 

That car jumped up the order in Q4 courtesy of Matteo Cairoli whose co-driver, Antares Au, now lines up well clear of the other IGTC Independent Cup protagonists. Championship leader Jonathan Hui (Sky Tempesta) starts 14th while Stephen Grove (Grove Racing) is two places further back. However, both were also beaten by SunEnergy1’s Mercedes-AMG, which is eligible to score class points in Abu Dhabi.

Elsewhere, Oliver Goethe (Garage 59) sensationally set the quickest individual time – 1m50.549s – on his GT3 debut in Q3. 

However, it was the collective efforts of Stolz, Grenier and Engel that proved decisive. Their #99 Mercedes-AMG, on average times at least, held provisional pole by just 0.019s before the final runs when Engel went up against Gounon. But what should have been a grandstand conclusion never materialised, and it was GruppeM’s entry that ultimately claimed top spot by a comfortable two-and-a-half tenths.

WRT’s #46 BMW started Q4 in third but slipped back a position thanks to Cairoli’s heroics. The Italian missed out on the fastest individual lap of all by 0.043s but still did just enough to demote the M4 after his co-driver Tim Heinemann had earlier underlined Herberth’s potential by setting Q3’s third quickest time.

GruppeM’s second entry featuring Lucas Auer plus Mercedes-AMG Young Driver Test winners Frank Bird and Lorenzo Ferrari head up row three but are unlucky not to be higher after just 0.032s covered positions third to fifth.

The first non-IGTC nomination, the #59 Garage 59 McLaren, rounded out the top six.

IGTC’s season finale goes green at 10:00 local time (06:00 GMT) on Sunday. Watch it live on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel.

 

 


PREVIEW: BATHURST KICKS OFF INTERCONTINENTAL GT CHALLENGE 2024

> BMW, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche aiming for fast start to four-round global series
>
IGTC entry list: Repco Bathurst 12 Hour

 

 

In GT racing circles February means just one thing: Repco Bathurst 12 Hour! One of the world’s great race tracks hosts the Intercontinental GT Challenge season opener this weekend when BMW and Porsche take on reigning champions Mercedes-AMG at Mount Panorama.

Defending IGTC drivers’ champion Jules Gounon is also in Australia hoping to score a fourth consecutive Bathurst victory, as well as his third alongside Kenny Habul and Luca Stolz at SunEnergy1. But repeating arguably the event’s greatest achievement requires the trio to overcome several full factory crews, Supercars stars and local pros.

The same three manufacturers that fought for Intercontinental honours last year have returned to the globe-trotting GT3 series, which also includes the ADAC Ravenol 24h Nurburgring, CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa and Indianapolis 8 Hour Presented by AWS. However, and unlike all campaigns since the series’ first back in 2016, registered marques no longer nominate IGTC entries. Instead, all of their cars are automatically eligible to score drivers’ and manufacturers’ points.

As previously, only each brand’s top two entries can claim points for their manufacturer, while IGTC’s first 10 finishers collect drivers’ points regardless of their marque.

All nine Mercedes-AMGs, three Porsches and two BMWs will feature white Fanatec windscreen banners – instead of black for non IGTC entries – and Intercontinental logos on the bonnet and doors.

IGTC’s Independent Cup currently includes three full-season contenders: Adrian D’Silva, Antares Au and Prince Jefri Ibrahim. The proviso to drop one round means only the latter – who was Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS runner-up last year – has opted to race this weekend. 

But it’s not just IGTC 2024 that begins at Bathurst: Fanatec GT Australia’s opening round of the season also kicks off this year’s global Fanatec GT World Challenge Powered by AWS campaign – a series comprising 30 events and 52 races across four championships on as many continents.


BMW

2023 was a year of what-might-have-beens for BMW, which won three of IGTC’s five races but failed to prevent Mercedes-AMG from retaining its manufacturers’ and drivers’ championships. And with just four events on this season’s calendar, a fast start is absolutely essential at Bathurst.

Two M4 GT3s again make the long trip Down Under after BMW M Team WRT gave the car its 12 Hour debut last February. However, what the manufacturer lacks in numbers it makes up for in driver continuity: there’s just one change from that same race last year.

And what a change it is…

Valentino Rossi is again joined by Maxime Martin, but the established duo have a new driver alongside them in the shape of former Mercedes-AMG star Raffaele Marciello.

The second entry, meanwhile, is again shared by Sheldon van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts.

However, the bulk of attention will naturally centre on #46 thanks to a certain MotoGP legend who fulfilled a lifetime ambition by racing at Mount Panorama last year. The experience did not disappoint, and neither did Rossi who held his own against drivers with far more experience of the daunting circuit.

Martin, meanwhile, was one of BMW’s standout GT3 performers last year when he helped Rossi get to grips with the M4. They also won together at Misano en route to fifth in the Fanatec GT Europe Sprint standings.

This year, though, they’ll be sharing the limelight with reigning Fanatec GT Europe champion and Macau FIA GT World Cup winner Marciello. Bathurst signals the Swiss driver’s maiden outing with BMW, which is also chasing its first GT3-era victory at the 12 Hour.

WRT won the event on its first appearance there with Audi back in 2018 when Vanthoor was also part of the line up. The Belgian and Van der Linde won two IGTC races in 2023 – at Kyalami and Indianapolis – en route to third and fifth in the final standings, while Weerts was also part of the victorious trio in South Africa.


MERCEDES-AMG

IGTC’s new nomination rule favours strength in numbers, and on that front Mercedes-AMG has a clear advantage this weekend thanks to its five Pro entries.

One of those has more of a Pro-Am feel, but that didn’t prevent the same crew – Habul, Gounon and Stolz – from somehow completing one of GT racing’s great upsets 12 months ago. 

That feat was made possible by the Pro class’ drive time regulations, which remain unchanged this year. In theory, one of the three drivers could race for as little as 40 minutes.

Still, the odds remain stacked against SunEnergy1’s entry, which must once more work out a way to beat several full factory and bona fide professional crews. 

2023 pole winner Maro Engel headlines a GruppeM squad also featuring Felipe Fraga and Bathurst 1000 winner David Reynolds, while Craft-Bamboo – which finished second two years ago – calls on Maximilian Goetz, Dani Juncadella and Jayden Ojeda.

But that’s not all. There’s more Supercars talent at Scott Taylor Motorsport in the shape of Craig Lowndes, Thomas Randle and Cam Waters who go up against domestic rivals – and Triple Eight team-mates – Will Brown and Broc Feeney in a National Storage Racing entry also featuring recent Gulf 12 Hours winner Mikael Grenier.

Elsewhere, Supercars GOAT Jamie Whincup joins Prince Jefri Ibrahim and Jordan Love in the second Triple Eight-run car, which should also be a major threat for Pro-Am honours. But that trio will face stiff opposition from the likes of Heart of Racing who count Aston Martin’s on-loan factory driver Ross Gunn amongst its trio.

MMotorsport and Supabarn Supermarkets/Tigani Motorsport complete Mercedes-AMG’s GT3 roster.


PORSCHE

HubAuto’s late withdrawal due to shipping delays has prevented what would have been one of this year’s fastest crews – Kevin Estre, Patrick Pilet and Klaus Bachler – from practicing and qualifying, let alone racing. But Porsche does at least have a contingency in the shape of two more overall contenders and a very capable Pro-Am car.

Focus will naturally centre on Manthey EMA and 2019 Bathurst winner Matt Campbell who were a second away from taking top spot last year. They’re now armed with the latest, 992-generation 911 GT3 R, and joined by two more factory drivers in the shape of Laurens Vanthoor and Ayhancan Güven. 

But Manthey EMA hasn’t entirely dispensed with the previous spec Porsche, which occupies the other side of its garage this weekend. Drivers Alessio Picarrielo and Harry King – who dominated Carrera Cup Australia at Bathurst with EMA last year – are also both seasoned 911 campaigners, while Yasser Shahin is a two-time Fanatec GT Australia champion. 

Porsche’s Bathurst contingent is completed by Phantom Global Racing, which has joined forces with Timo Bernhard’s Team 75 organisation to run a new 992-spec car for Joel Eriksson, Jaxon Evans and Bastian Buus. The outfit has predominantly raced in its native China but spent 2023 contesting Fanatec GT Asia.


REPCO BATHURST 12 HOUR TIMETABLE (AET / GMT +11)

Australia’s international enduro officially begins with Bathurst’s Track to Town parade on Thursday before the cars run in anger for the first time the following morning.

SRO’s GT World YouTube channel will show live coverage of qualifying, the top-10 pole shootout and race around the world and for free this Saturday and Sunday. TV rights agreements prevent these streams from being broadcast in Australia and New Zealand.

Thursday 15 February
10:30 – 13:00: Track to Town parade

Friday 16 February
08:15 – 08:55: Practice 1
09:50 – 10:30: Practice 2 (Bronze drivers only)
13:30 – 14:10: Practice 3
16:10 – 16:50: Practice 4 (Bronze drivers only)

Saturday 17 February
08:05 – 09:05: Practice 5
10:00 – 11:00: Practice 6
12:40 – 13:10: Qualifying Part 1 (Live)
13:30 – 14:00: Qualifying Part 2 (Live)
16:05 – 16:20: Top 10 Shootout Part 1 (Live)
16:30 – 16:45: Top 10 Shootout Part 2 (Live)

Sunday 18 February
05:45 – 17:45: Race (Live)


 

 

GOUNON, ENG, VANTHOOR AND STOLZ VYING FOR INTERCONTINENTAL GT CHALLENGE POWERED BY PIRELLI CROWN AT GULF 12 HOURS

> BMW and Mercedes-AMG gunning for manufacturers’ championship
> Hui leads three-way IGTC Independent Cup title battle
> Gulf 12 Hours:
IGTC nominations

 

 

The fight for all three Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli titles boils down to a duel in the dunes this weekend at Circuit Yas Marina where the Gulf 12 Hours closes out 2023’s five-race campaign.

Jules Gounon, Philipp Eng, Dries Vanthoor and Luca Stolz are all vying for their first IGTC drivers’ crowns, while Mercedes-AMG must overturn BMW’s nine-point advantage if it is to retain the manufacturers’ title. And there’s also Intercontinental’s Independent Cup, which features three championship contenders in the shape of Jonathan Hui, Antares Au and Stephen Grove.

Ferrari won the same race 12 months ago when Dani Juncadella and Mercedes-AMG wrapped up their respective titles. Now the iconic Abu Dhabi Grand Prix venue is poised to host the Gulf 12 Hours for a 10th time and welcome IGTC for a second.


GOUNON AND ENG’S SEASON-LONG RIVALRY SET TO BE RESOLVED

The championship’s top two drivers have spent 2023 locked in battle across Europe and beyond, and now have one final opportunity to win championship silverware at the other’s expense when the Gulf 12 Hours goes green this Sunday.

The score is currently one-one between Gounon and Eng who finished this year’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Endurance Cup in the same order. But while the Mercedes-AMG ace clinched the title, he was beaten to GT3’s biggest individual prize – the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa – by the BMW driver who then added a second IGTC victory to his season’s tally at Indianapolis.

That result cut the gap to Bathurst winner Gounon, who heads to Gulf eight points clear. However, with seven points the difference between finishing first and second, the Andorran can afford to take the chequered flag one place behind Eng. And that means even a third win in as many races might not be enough to secure BMW its first drivers’ crown since 2020.

Eng’s Team WRT M4 also features factory talent in the shape of Charles Weerts and Sheldon van der Linde whose own IGTC title chances have been annulled by BMW’s decision to pair him with its leading contender.

Instead, it’s Vanthoor – currently joint-third overall with SVDL after also winning at Bathurst and Kyalami – who is Bavaria’s second in line to the throne. He’s 14 points behind Gounon, a deficit only potentially bridgeable if the #46 M4 – which also features Valentino Rossi and Nick Yelloly – finishes on IGTC’s podium.

Overturning that deficit also relies on Gounon saving his season’s worst IGTC result for the finale. There might only have been one victory but his 100% podium record has helped maintain the advantage he first built on the opening weekend Down Under.

This time he’s with 2 Seas, the Anglo-Bahraini team with whom he contested 2023’s Intelligent Money British GT Championship and which has twice won the Gulf 12 Hours outright. Maximilian Goetz and Fabian Schiller join him behind the wheel.

Fellow Mercedes-AMG star and Bathurst winner Stolz completes IGTC’s cast of title contenders in GruppeM’s full-season Mann Filter-backed entry, which also features Maro Engel and Mikael Grenier.

However, the German’s championship chances are slim. An 18-point deficit and inferior count back results mean he must win first and foremost, but also rely on Gounon to finish seventh or lower in IGTC’s classification. Eng would also have to finish fourth at best.


POINTS ON THE BOARD VS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

On paper, at least, BMW heads to the finale primed to win its first Intercontinental manufacturers’ crown thanks to a nine-point cushion over Mercedes-AMG.

Its two works entries are also of the highest quality. However, they are the only M4s competing, whereas Mercedes-AMG has filled its quota of four cars split 3-1 across Pro and Pro-Am, respectively.

Yes, only each brand’s two best placed nominations will score manufacturers’ points, but Mercedes-AMG’s strength in numbers means neither BMW can afford to slip up.

Indeed, a one-two or even one-three finish would be enough for Mercedes-AMG to overturn its deficit regardless of where either BMW finishes.

Mercedes-AMG’s IGTC list includes GruppeM’s second Pro entry crewed by DTM driver Lucas Auer – who was part of last year’s pole-winning trio that also featured Engel and Goetz – as well as Frank Bird and Lorenzo Ferrari. Those two earned their chance in a factory entry by impressing at the recent Mercedes-AMG Young Driver Test in Valencia.

SunEnergy1’s Kenny Habul, Martin Konrad, Dominik Baumann and Philip Ellis complete the Three Pointed Star’s IGTC contingent in what will be Habul’s first competitive appearance since injuring his back at Spa. The Australian – a Bathurst winner with Gounon and Stolz in February – cannot win IGTC’s Independent Cup title but is eligible to score class points.

Elsewhere, Porsche’s four IGTC entries are unlikely to win outright given their Pro-Am and Am nature. However, they do include two Independent Cup championship contenders – Antares Au and Stephen Grove – plus the team that clinched overall pole positions at Indy and Spa: Herberth Motorsport.


HUI-SY DOES IT?!

Hui and Sky Tempesta were crowned Fanatec GT Europe Endurance Cup Bronze champions back in October. Now they are chasing another title together as the IGTC Independent Cup draws to a close in Abu Dhabi.

Hui – who shares the McLaren with Kevin Tse, Chris Froggatt and Eddie Cheever – won the season opener in Bathurst and dropped his mandatory round at Kyalami before finishing second at both Spa and Indy to enter the finale nine points clear of Au.

The latter has won twice in quick succession, and also saw his car take pole at Spa and Indy. However, his points deficit means even another win won’t be enough to pinch the championship if Hui finishes second again. His chances are aided by factory driver Matteo Cairoli and Tim Heinemann who helped Au score his two Independent Cup victories this year.

Stephen Grove is also a mathematical contender. But with only four drivers eligible to score Independent Cup points at the Gulf 12 Hours, his deficit of 16 will be difficult to overcome. Indeed, Hui must retire for the Earl Bamber Motorsport driver to have a chance, which also relies on him finishing first or second. He shares the 911 GT3 R with son Brenton and Supercars ace Richie Stanaway.


WHAT, WHERE AND WHEN?

The Gulf 12 Hours takes place on December 8-10, albeit with the first test session scheduled for Thursday night.

GT World’s live YouTube coverage begins with Saturday evening’s four-part qualifying session before the race itself is streamed for free and uninterrupted on Sunday. 

Thursday 7 December
19:30 – 20:30 Open Practice 1

Friday 8 December
13:15 – 14:15 Open Practice 2
15:15 – 16:15 Open Practice 3
17:30 – 19:30 Open Practice 4

Saturday 9 December
11:15 – 12:15 Free Practice 1
14:20 – 15:20 Free Practice 2
18:00 – 18:15 Qualifying 1 – LIVE
18:25 – 18:40 Qualifying 2 – LIVE
18:50 – 19:05 Qualifying 3 – LIVE
19:15 – 19:30 Qualifying 4 – LIVE

Sunday 10 December
10:00 – 22:00 Gulf 12 Hours – LIVE

 

    trans am series

www.gotransam.com

The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli is the longest-running professional road race series in the United States. The Trans Am Series was founded by racing factory pony cars in the late 1960s. More than 50 years after their launch, Mustangs, Camaros and Challengers continue to be sold today, with Trans Am racing credited as playing a major role in their success and longevity. The SpeedTour will host the professional race series at 19 events nationwide in 2023. 


 


Michael Printup Named COO of Parella Motorsports Holdings

John Clagett Departing After 31 Years with the Trans Am Series

CHARLOTTE (January 25, 2024) — NASCAR and Watkins Glen International veteran Michael Printup is assuming the role of chief operating officer of Parella Motorsports Holdings (PMH), overseeing the operations of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli and the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA).

"In his short time with Parella Motorsports Holdings, Michael has been using his vast experience to expand track relationships and enhance company communication,” said Tony Parella, owner of PMH. “We believe this experience will benefit the Trans Am Series and Parella Motorsports Holdings as a whole."

Printup joined PMH last year and has been serving as president of SVRA since July. The Hamburg, N.Y., native previously spent nearly three decades working for NASCAR, most notably in the role of president of Watkins Glen International. He was also president of Americrown and, more recently, he oversaw the Levy food service contract for 12 NASCAR-owned racetracks, and directed the Mobil 1 show car program for Tony Stewart.

“It is an honor be named COO and take over the helm of Trans Am,” Printup said. “The accomplishments of John Clagett and his impact on Trans Am speaks for itself. The continued leadership from Tony has been and will be paramount for PMH moving forward.”  

John Clagett has served as President and CEO of Trans Am Race Company for 13 years and been affiliated with the Trans Am Series for 31-plus years, previously holding the role of Vice President of SCCA Pro Racing and liaison to the Trans Am Council, and as the series’ Executive Director through two ownership transitions. Under Clagett’s leadership, the Trans Am Race Company has generated a 10-fold increase in revenue over the past decade, while upgrading the series’ race operations, marketing, broadcast and social media outreach. 2023 accomplishments include the successful integration of the Flagtronics electronic marshalling platform, and a robust and growing broadcast package with MAVTV which includes live broadcasts, highlight coverage and a Trans Am docuseries.

“My goodness, it seems like yesterday when I became an employee of SCCA, and just a moment ago when I started to form the re-makings of the Trans Am Series with Trans Am Race Company,” reflected Clagett. “It all flew by because I loved what I did, and it never felt like work. But at the same time, my time with the series has been all-consuming. I care so much about the success of Trans Am that I put everything into it. That came at the cost of working nonstop for all these years. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to accomplish all that I have and that I’ve had an amazing team around me. I’m at the point where I can look at the culmination of all that hard work and see how the series has flourished. I’m confident that now is the time that I can step back, turn my focus towards an advisory role, and leave Trans Am in capable hands.”

“We appreciate everything John Clagett has done for Trans Am,” Parella said. “During his tenure, we have seen the addition of new classes, such as TA2, which has had incredible growth. He navigated the series through unprecedented times, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, retaining momentum by creating an Esports racing series. He is continuing to assist us in an advisory role through the end of the season.” 

The 2024 Trans Am Series season kicks off on February 22-25 at Sebring International Raceway.

About the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli:  The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli is the longest-running professional road racing series in North America. The Trans Am Series was founded in 1966 for racing factory pony cars on iconic road courses. More than 55 years after the series’ launch, Mustangs, Camaros and Challengers continue to be sold today, with Trans Am racing credited as playing a major role in their success and longevity. With five diverse and competitive classes of racecars and both National and Western Championships, Trans Am offers something for every fan and every competitor. The series will host 17 events nationwide in 2024. For more information, visit GoTransAm.com.

About Parella Motorsports Holdings:  Parella Motorsports Holdings (PMH) owns five major road racing series and hosts racing festivals across the United States under the SpeedTour brand name. With Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA), The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli, Formula Regional Americas (FR Americas), Formula 4 United States Championship (F4 U.S.), Prototype Sprint Series Association presented by Hankook (PSSA), Ligier JS F4 Series, and TA2 Club, PMH will exceed 5,500 entries during the 2023 season. Additionally, PMH also holds the long-term commercial rights to SCCA Pro Racing, which sanctions Trans Am, FR Americas, F4 U.S., Formula Race Promotions and Formula 2000. Together, with all of its racing properties, PMH hosts motorsports festivals under the name SpeedTour. Including elements like racing, car shows and concerts, SpeedTour events often attract more than 25,000 spectators, and many of their events are live streamed on SpeedTour TV’s YouTube page. For more information about PMH’s SpeedTour events, visit SpeedTour.net


CUBE 3 Architecture Named Title Sponsor for Trans Am’s TA2 Series in 2024

CHARLOTTE (January 23, 2024) — The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli is thrilled to announce an exciting partnership for the 2024 racing season, as CUBE 3 Architecture steps up as the title sponsor of the TA2 Series for the National and Western Championships. In this groundbreaking move, these classes will now be recognized as the CUBE 3 Architecture TA2 Series. This marks the debut year of CUBE 3 Architecture as the "Exclusive Architectural Firm of the Trans Am Series, SVRA, and SpeedTour."

 

Founded by visionaries Nik Middleton and Brian O'Connor, CUBE 3 Architecture has earned national acclaim as a leading design firm with a rich portfolio of master planning, architectural, interiors and design projects spanning two decades. Headquartered in North Andover, Mass., with four additional offices strategically located in Boston, Miami, Princeton, and San Diego, CUBE 3 Architecture brings a wealth of creative expertise to the table.

 

Notably, over the past 3 years, CUBE 3 has actively sponsored emerging TA2 talents, including young drivers like Evan Slater and Australian TA2 champion Nathan Herne.

 

“As we celebrate our 21st year, we find ourselves perfectly poised to take on the role of the Trans Am TA2 Series title sponsor," commented Nik Middleton. "We eagerly anticipate the accelerated growth of our firm and the Trans Am Series, hand in hand."

 

"We are very pleased to welcome CUBE 3 as the new title sponsor of the TA2 Series,” echoed Trans Am President John Clagett. “The TA2 class has seen monumental growth since its inception in 2011, with its intense competition attracting racers from around the globe. It has become both a destination series for world-class drivers and a proving ground for the future stars of motorsports, and we are elated that CUBE 3 Architecture wants to be a part of it.”

 

The CUBE 3 Architecture TA2 Series season kicks off its exciting journey on Thursday, February 22, 2024, at the iconic Sebring International Raceway, with Bill Warner, presiding as the Grand Marshal over the race on Saturday, February 24.

 

About CUBE 3 Architecture: Established in 2003, CUBE 3 has earned a nationwide reputation as an industry leader in design and innovation. The firm is renowned for its tailored solutions to a diverse array of architectural, interior design, and planning challenges. With expertise spanning across sectors such as residential, hospitality, student housing, commercial, and mixed-use projects, CUBE 3 consistently delivers visionary design. For more information, please visit www.cube3.com.

About the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli: The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli is the longest-running professional road race series in the United States. The Trans Am Series was founded by racing factory pony cars in the late 1960s. More than 50 years after their launch, Mustangs, Camaros and Challengers continue to be sold today, with Trans Am racing credited as playing a major role in their success and longevity. The SpeedTour will host the professional race series at 17 events nationwide in 2024. 


 

What Brent Crews’ 2023 TA2 Championship

Means for Trans Am


 

Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series is Ripe

for Growth and Young Talent

When Brent Crews crossed the finish line fourth at Circuit of The Americas earlier this month, he secured the 2023 Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series title, and at the age of 15 years, seven months and six days old, became the youngest champion in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli’s history.


 

Crews’ championship signals a new era for Trans Am, putting an exclamation point on TA2’s growing youth movement, and highlighting the series as a platform for young up-and-coming drivers.


 

In addition to becoming the youngest champion in Trans Am history, Crews is younger than the youngest champions in the some of the most significant motorsports series in North America and around the world. Here is where he stacks up against other champions:


 

Trans Am Series (Brent Crews): 15 years, seven months and six days

ARCA Racing Series (Jesse Love): 15 years, nine months and 24 days

USAC (Josh Wise): 16 years

NASCAR Xfinity Series (Chase Elliott): 18 years, 11 months and 11 days

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (Erik Jones): 19 years, five months and 21 days

INDYCAR (Sam Hornish): 22 years, three months and four days

Formula 1 (Sabastian Vettel): 23 years, four months and 11 days

NASCAR Cup Series (Bill Rexford): 23 years, seven months and 15 days


 

At the age of 14, Crews was named the 2022 Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series Rookie of the Year following an impressive first year of competition. Also in 2022, he became the youngest race winner in series history following a victory at Road America, and claimed two more wins before the end of the year (Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, VIRginia International Raceway). With four wins en route to his championship in 2023 (NOLA Motorsports Park, Detroit Grand Prix Race 1, Road America, Watkins Glen), Crews demonstrated just how strong of a competitor he is, beating out last year’s TA2 champion Thomas Merrill and two-time champion Rafa Matos for the title.


 

Crews also won the TA2 Young Gun Award in both of his years competing full-time in the series. The Young Gun Award was established in 2022 to provide a $20,000 cash prize to the season’s best-finishing TA2 driver under the age of 25. 

“Trans Am has been a home for me these past two years,” said Crews of his title. “Being able to run full time and win a championship has been a goal of mine for a while now. The experience I have gotten from racing in Trans Am will prepare me for the next step. Being the youngest champion in history is a huge accomplishment, especially for how full of talent Trans Am has been and will continue to be.”


 

What is the next step for Crews? While the driver has not yet unveiled his plans for 2024 and beyond, it can be assumed that NASCAR will be in his future sooner than later. Crews is already part of Toyota Racing Development and has said that his goal is to chase championships in the NASCAR Cup Series.


 

Crews was signed by NASCAR Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick’s agency, KHI Management, in 2021 at the age of 12 following the company’s creation of its Youth Sports Division. KHI represents some of the biggest names in NASCAR, UFC, PGA, motocross and music. When Crews won his title, Harvick had this to say about the young champion:


 

“Brent is a very talented young racer with a bright future in our sport,” said Harvick. “He has won a lot of big races, but capturing his first TA2 Championship and becoming the youngest champion to ever do it speaks a lot about his talent. I’m looking forward to watching him continue to progress over the next couple years.”

Other young drivers in the series appear to be on a similar path. 17-year-old Connor Zilisch, who won five TA2 races this season, finished fourth in the TA2 points. Earlier this year, he was signed by Team Chevy, and is also expected to move up through the NASCAR ranks soon.


 

“I chose TA2 because the series has always been intriguing to me, the competition and the car that is provided makes for some incredible racing,” explained Zilisch. “It also is a great stepping stone to many forms of professional motorsports. It felt like the right choice for me for what I hope to do in the future.


 

“I really liked the TA2 car’s power,” continued Zilisch. “Until I drove it, the most horsepower I’ve had in a car was no more than 150. To jump straight into something with 500 horsepower was obviously a big jump, but that’s what made it fun. Having to control the throttle on the exit of the corner was something new to me. I picked it up quickly though, and soon felt very comfortable in the car.”


 

Once Zilisch mastered the 500-horsepower engines in TA2, he had the opportunity to jump into an 870-horsepower TA car at VIR in October, which he took to instantly. He won the pole and went on to dominate the TA race on his way to victory. Winning the TA2 race the following day, he became the first driver to win in both TA and TA2 on the same weekend.


 

Both Crews and Zilisch, who have been competing in high-profile late model races this season in addition to running with Trans Am, would be following in the footsteps of other Trans Am winners who have made the transition to NASCAR. Connor Mosack, who competed in the TA2 class full time in 2021 and 2022, was signed to drive in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Sam Hunt Racing this past season. He competed alongside teammate and 2022 Trans Am TA class winner Kaz Grala. February’s Daytona 500 featured 10 drivers who previously had made starts in Trans Am’s TA2 class: Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe, Harrison Burton, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Ty Gibbs, Riley Herbst, Tyler Reddick and Daniel Suarez.


 

When asked about the state of the sport, Trans Am President John Clagett saw great things for the series’ future:


 

“Trans Am’s Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series has experienced incredible growth since its inception just over a decade ago,” said Clagett. “Entries in the class have grown exponentially, and it has evolved to be a home for young drivers, particularly those on a trajectory to compete in NASCAR and some of the other top stock car racing series. The parity of the cars and the high competition level makes TA2 a proving ground.


 

“Trans Am has always served as launching point for incredibly talented drivers, from Willy T. Ribbs and Wally Dallenbach to Scott Pruett and Ernie Francis Jr., but what we’ve seen in the last few years in terms of competition and the names coming through our paddock is unprecedented,” continued Clagett. “We are no longer the best-kept secret in motorsports. We’re proving to be both a destination for some of the most talented competitors in racing, as well as an essential point of development for racing’s future stars.”

   Sports Car Club of America

www.scca.com

The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) is a non-profit American automobile club and sanctioning body supporting road racing, rallying, and autocross in the United States. Formed in 1944, it runs many programs for both amateur and professional racers.


 


 

 

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 2024 Trans Am Series Western Championship Schedule

 

Time Trials National Tour 2022 Schedule

March 26-27: Carolina Motorsports Park; Kershaw, SC
- April 23-24: Eagles Canyon Raceway; Decatur, TX
- May 12-15: Time Trials Nationals @ NCM Motorsports Park; Bowling Green, KY
- July 1-2: Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park; Thompson, CT
- July 16-17: GingerMan Raceway; South Haven, MI
- August 6-7: New Jersey Motorsports Park; Millville, NJ
- August 27-28: Pittsburgh International Race Complex; Wampum, PA
- October 29-30: Buttonwillow Raceway Park; Buttonwillow, CA
- November 5-6: Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta; Braselton, GA


 

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