The entry list for the 2012 FIA GT1 World Championship has been completed with 18 cars representing nine brands on the grid for the first race in France (Nogaro) on 6-9 April.
Besides the six teams that have already announced their participation – AF Corse (Ferrari), All-Inkl Münnich Motorsport (Mercedes), Hexis (McLaren), Reiter Engineering (Lamborghini), Vita4One (BMW), WRT (Audi), the SRO Motorsports Group has engineered the entry of three additional teams to promote the championship in key markets.
China GT1 Team, which campaigned Corvettes as Exim Bank Team China in 2011, will run a pair of Porsches with renowned Belgian team Mühlner Motorsport.
Valmon Racing Team Russia, has entered two Aston Martins and trusted 2011 FIA GT3 European team LMP Motorsport to run the cars in partnership with Aston Martin Racing.
The third team will run Ford GTs, possibly under an Indian license with the technical backing of Spain’s Sunred Engineering.
Stephane Ratel, Founder and CEO of SRO Motorsports Group, said the entry list had come together after months of behind-the-scenes effort.
“I am glad we can finally confirm the 2012 entry list. It is the result of many hours of hard work on the part of a number of people with a desire to ensure the FIA GT1 World Championship maintains its place as the most exciting global GT race series on the motorsport calendar,” he said.
“I am grateful for the original teams which remained loyal to the championship and I am delighted that SRO Motorsports Group was able to orchestrate the establishment of the three additional teams to bring the grid number up to 18.
“Our dream of bringing together the best sportscar brands in two-car teams, competing in a calendar featuring some very important markets for the luxury car industry has come to fruition.”
Ratel reiterated that there were still some approval processes and agreements to be finalized before team structures and final driver line-upscould be officially confirmed.
There will be some star names among the driver line-ups.
The Hexis foursome, charged with defending the teams’ title in the McLaren MP-4-12C includes two regulars Frederic Makowiecki and Stef Dusseldorp and two newcomers Alvaro Parente and Gregoire Demoustier.
At the wheel of the two WRT Audi R8 LMS ultras are the former DTM racer Frank Stippler (Germany) and Audi factory driver Oliver Jarvis (Great Britain), former Le Mans winner Stephane Ortelli (Monte Carlo) and Belgium’s Laurens Vanthoor.
AF Corse have confirmed Francesco Castellacci and Enzo Ide along with Filip Salaquarda as their first three drivers who will pilot their Ferrari 458 Italias.
The make-up of the All-Inkl Münnich Motorsport Mercedes quartet will be revealed in the coming days and is likely to be similar to the 2011 line-up with team principal Marc Basseng leading a strong and experienced combination.
Vita4One team boss Michael Bartels has yet to name the three drivers that will drive alongside him in his new BMW squad.
Reiter Lamborghini will soon confirm Prince Albert von Thurn und Taxis and Tomas Enge in one car and Dutch veteran Peter Kox with a driver yet to be named in theother Lamborghini LP 600.
China GT1 Team will feature Frenchman Mike Parisy, who has a distinguished record in GT racing and was runner up in the FIA GT3 European Championship in 2011. He is likely to be joined by former Formula One driver Antonio Pizzonia of Brazil. Chinese driver Ren Wei will race the second car with a team-mate to be announced shortly.
Valmon Team Russia has rising Russian star Mikhail Aleshin, who has progressed through the open-wheeler ranks with impressive results. In 2010, he was the Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion. His partner will be announced shortly.
The second car is likely to bring together the talented Spaniard Andy Soucek, a former FIA Formula Two champion and the experienced Austrian Andreas Zuber, who drove for Corvette in the 2010 and 2011 FIA GT1 World Championship.
Due to logistical matters, and strong interest from an additional non-European market, there are likely to be some adjustments to the 2012 calendar. Those alterations will be made official shortly.
The first event of the 2012 championship runs over four days as part of the French Easter Cup at Nogaro, France from 6-9 April.