Next season’s inaugural Suzuka 10 Hours will feature reigning Intercontinental GT Challenge champions Audi after the German manufacturer confirmed its 2018 entry earlier today (Monday).
Audi remains unbeaten in the Intercontinental GT Challenge’s Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ championships since the series’ 2016 debut, and is bidding to extend that record next season after confirming it will also contest the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, Total 24 Hours of Spa and Mazda Raceway California 8 Hours alongside Suzuka.
While the exact driver crews, teams and number of R8 LMS GT3s are still to be confirmed, Audi has named another strong factory driver roster from which its Intercontinental GT Challenge and Suzuka crews will be selected.
It includes reigning champion Markus Winkelhock, who won at both Spa and Laguna Seca en route to this year’s title, while Christopher Haase, Pierre Kaffer and Kelvin Van Der Linde also shared Intercontinental GT Challenge victories with the German in 2017.
Equally, Christopher Mies has twice won Bathurst with Audi, Frank Stippler claimed victory for the German marque at Spa in 2012, and this year’s Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup champion Robin Frijns finished first at the Sepang 12 Hours when it hosted Asia’s Intercontinental GT Challenge round in 2016.
Audi’s announcement brings the current number of confirmed manufacturers competing at the 47th Summer Endurance Race to eight. Bentley, Honda, Lamborghini, Mercedes-AMG, Nissan, Porsche and Toyota have already revealed their plans to contest the event on August 23-26.
Uniquely, the Suzuka 10 Hours will see traditional FIA GT3 cars go head-to-head against their JAF GT-spec counterparts on the same control Pirelli tyre as used around the world. Prize money totalling 100-million Yen has already been confirmed for a blue riband race that many more teams and manufacturers are expected to support in the coming months.
The race is being jointly co-ordinated by SRO Motorsports Group – best known for overseeing the Blancpain GT Series in Europe and Asia – SUPER GT organiser GTA, and Mobilityland who are all collaborating closely on the project.
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