Both Aston Martin and BMW have confirmed entries in the five-round 2020 Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli series which kicks off with this weekend’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hours.
Aston Martin will be represented in the IGTC season opener by four Vantage GT3s, two each entered by partner teams R-Motorsport and Garage 59 (photo above).
R-Motorsport’s driver line-up includes Brit Jake Dennis, who finished a close runner-up in last year’s 12 Hour, plus five-time IndyCar Series champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon and 2006 Australian Supercars champion Rick Kelly.
In the sister car will be 17- year-old Olli Caldwell, 2019 Formula 2 winner Luca Ghiotto and German Marvin Kirchhofer.
Garage 59, runners-up in last year’s Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup Am class, features in its lead Vantage drivers Alexander West, Chris Goodwin and Frenchman Come Ledogar, joined for Bathurst by Aston Martin works driver Maxime Martin.
“It’s a really late, late call, but I’m super-excited to be going,” said the Belgian. “I know it’s an amazing event. I’ve never been to Australia, let alone Bathurst, so there is much to learn. We are fighting for the Pro-Am class victory and, looking at who I am racing alongside, I think we have a great chance.”
A second Garage 59 entry car in the Silver class will be driven by AMR Junior driver Andrew Watson, Olivier Hart and IMSA GTD driver Roman de Angelis.
David King, president of Aston Martin Racing said: “This is Aston Martin Racing’s boldest attack on the Bathurst 12 Hours, a race that showcases the very best of what international GT3 racing has to offer. We have full confidence that the combination of our two partner teams, R-Motorsport and Garage 59, and the growing competitiveness of the Aston Martin Vantage GT3, will provide a fierce challenge for honors in Australia. This line-up, and the quality of our partners, represents the perfect time to commit to the overall Manufacturers’ Championship for the first time.”
BMW joins the fray
BMW Motorsport, meanwhile, is the eighth manufacturer to confirm a full-season IGTC entry, joining Audi, Bentley, Honda, Lamborghini, Mercedes-AMG, Aston Martin and reigning champions, Porsche.
Walkenhorst Motorsport will field a single M6 GT3 in the Bathurst 12 Hour, with Augusto Farfus and Chaz Mostert, who won the GTLM class for BMW at Daytona 24 Hours on Sunday, joined by Nick Catsburg.
In the four remaining IGTC rounds, Walkenhorst will field a second M6 for Martin Tomczyk, Nick Yelloly and David Pittard.
Walkenhorst claimed BMW’s best-ever Intercontinental result when it finished second at Kyalami in November.
“The International GT Challenge is one of the most important GT race series in the world, so it is a logical step for us to also contest the 2020 season of this series with the BMW M6 GT3,” said BMW Group Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt.
“With Walkenhorst Motorsport, we are backing a race team with a wealth of experience which, with successes such as the 2018 victory at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and second place at the IGTC finale 2019 at Kyalami, has already demonstrated its prowess in international GT racing. We are confident that Henry Walkenhorst’s team, along with our squad of strong BMW works drivers, will stay on the road to success in the 2020 IGTC. We’re looking forward to a fantastic season with five gripping races on five continents.”
Team principal Henry Walkenhorst added: “We learned a great deal about the series in our first year in the IGTC. With the BMW M6 GT3, we have the best racing car we could imagine, and with our drivers’ extraordinary amount of international experience, we are fielding a really strong line-up. We would like to thank BMW M Motorsport for the trust they have placed in us and can hardly wait for the season to get underway at Bathurst.”