Intercontinental GT Challenge launched by Stephane Ratel

An Intercontinental GT Challenge incorporating the Spa 24 Hours and the Bathurst 12 Hours has been launched by Blancpain GT Series boss Stephane Ratel

Intercontinental GT Challenge launched by Stephane Ratel

They will combine with the Sepang 12 Hours, which the Stephane Ratel Organisation has taken over this year, and a three-hour endurance race on the bill of the Pirelli World Challenge event at Austin in March to create a four-race series aimed at GT3 manufacturers.

Ratel told AUTOSPORT: "At Spa this year we had seven teams supported by manufacturers, we already have manufacturer involvement at Bathurst and we are seeing some interest for Sepang in December.

"We will have a challenge with points across the four races and a beautiful trophy at the end."

Ratel explained that his concept was for the manufacturers to back different teams at different races.

"This is not a teams' series; I don't want teams flying around the world and going broke because of it," he continued.

"It is much more cost effective to fly in a couple of drivers and an engineer than cars and equipment.

"The plan is that the manufacturers will support local teams; the beauty of GT3 is that there are cars everywhere all over the world."

Ratel stressed that the name Intercontinental GT Challenge remained provisional and said that further details would be announced in October.

He admitted that eventually the Bathurst 12 Hours, for which SRO already provides the balance of performance, would have to abandon its strict pro-am format.

"We can't do it for 2016, but for the long-term it would be logical to have an all-professional class," he revealed.

The Austin race is part of a link-up between SRO and the PWC, which will begin in October when the top three from the US GT3 series are scheduled to take part in the Blancpain Sprint Series finale at Zandvoort.

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