Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi becomes IGTC round for first time

The Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi has replaced Kyalami as the final round of this year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge.

Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi becomes IGTC round for first time

The traditional end-of-season fixture at the Yas Marina circuit will become an IGTC round for the first time as part of a calendar reshuffle in which the next edition of the nine-hour race at the former home of the South African Grand Prix has been pushed back to become round two of next year’s schedule in February.

The four-race 2022 IGTC will climax on 11 December with the Middle Eastern event, which for the first time will be a conventional 12-hour race rather than an enduro made up of a pair of six-hour events.

The Gulf 12 Hours will again be part of the IGTC calendar in 2023: it is listed as the final round on a date listed as a TBD on the five-race schedule.

The Kyalami 9 Hours was due to take place this year on 3 December, which would have been the second running of the event in 2022 after the final round of the 2021 series was postponed from December to February as a result of COVID.

The move announced on Friday at the Spa 24 Hours IGTC and GT World Challenge Europe round is part of a drive to create a more balanced schedule for the series, which traditionally kicks of at the start of February with the Bathurst 12 Hours.

Switching Kyalami on 25 February helps fill the five-month gap between the Australian race and Spa at the end of July.

IGTC boss Stephane Ratel said: “It didn’t make sense to go to Kyalami once in February this year, again in December and then go back just two months later at the start of next year.

#9 Lechner Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R: Saul Hack, Andre Bezuidenhout, Dylan Pereira

#9 Lechner Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R: Saul Hack, Andre Bezuidenhout, Dylan Pereira

Photo by: Porsche Motorsport

“That’s when I went to Andrea [Ficarelli, boss of the Gulf 12 Hours], and the idea has been well received by the teams.

"We have Bathurst at the start of February, then Spa in July and everything else at the end of the year, so the calendar wasn't very well balanced."

Ratel explained that the late-February date of Kyalami would allow Europeans teams taking part to return home in order to contest the opening round of the GTWCE, which next year will return to its traditional home at Monza for a round on 16 May.

He also outlined a desire to return to Suzuka for the 10-hour race that filled the Asian slot on the calendar in 2018 and ’19, prior to cancellation in 2020 and ’21 and then an omission from this year’s calendar.

“We absolutely want to go back to Suzuka,” explained Ratel.

“I hoped it would be possible next year and we discussed it, but they preferred to wait.”

Ratel said that so long as the Suzuka 1000Km didn’t return to the Super GT schedule in the track’s traditional summer endurance slot, he will remain confident of a return by the IGTC in 2024.

2023 IGTC CALENDAR

5 February Bathurst 12 Hours
25 February Kyalami 9 Hours
29/30 July Spa 24 Hours
9 October Indianapolis 8 Hours
TBC Gulf 12 Hours (Abu Dhabi)

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