2011 Australian GT Calendar Revealed Amongst Exciting Announcements


By Sam Tickell

An exciting lineup of cars is expected for a seven round 2011 Australian GT season

The Australian GT Championship have released an expanded calendar as part of a list of announcements for the 2011 season.

The 2011 Championship begins in Adelaide in mid-March as a major support event for the Clipsal 500 - a V8 Supercar round. The Championship has signed a three year deal to run at Adelaide and will feature a one hour twilight race on Saturday and a 20 minute race on the Sunday.

Round two will remain in Victoria but has moved from Melbourne to Winton to again support the V8 Supercar Championship. The weekend will consist of two 30 minute races and will be held in May.

Just one week later, the Championship will be the headline act at the ARDC Sportscar Festival and will run two one hour races.

Round four, in July will see a return to Queensland and will be supporting the V8 Supercars on the streets of Townsville. Two 30 minute races will make up this weekend.

The traditional trip to Phillip Island will see the GT Championship headline their own weekend in September. This round will see two 1 hour races in early September. This round will be held on the Father's Day weekend and will be promoted as a family event with give aways for kids and their dads. Importantly this round will be a pro/am round. As many of the GT competitors are not professional drivers, they will be encouraged to partner with a pro driver for this round.

The final two races of the year will support the V8 Championship and will again consist of two 30 minute races. The first will be on the famed Bathurst track in October and the latter will take place at Sandown in November.

The Championship has also announced other changes coming into the 2011 season. The most important of these changes is to more severely restrict the grid size for each event. After a number of significant accidents in the 2010 season, the organisers have taken the extraordinary step to "significantly reducing the grid limit for 2011." And that "the limit will be considerably less than the track density and the numbers in 2010." Just what the car count will be will be discovered next week. Grid positions will be preferred to full season entrants or those with cars or drivers that will increase the profile of the Championship.

Another key change for the 2011 season is the combining of the Challenge and Production classes. In 2010 there were four Production cars and around six Challenge class cars at most rounds. These cars were always at a similar pace and combining the classes should make for interesting battles for 2011.

Tyre supplier, Michelin will also be increasing their participation in the Championship for 2011 with a range of new initiatives. This includes promotion of the Australian GT Championship in Michelin stores with video, merchandise and posters. National competitions, ticket give-aways and prizes for Australian GT competitors will undoubtedly increase the presence of the Championship in 2011.

Ferrari and Maranello Motorsport are expected to return for the 2011 Australian GT season

Some Australian GT competitors will also be getting an early start to the year at the Bathurst 12 Hours in February. The Championship will also be joined by another sportscar category in 2011 as the Carrera Cup returns after a couple year hiatus. On a side note and conveniently for the Carrera Cup, the Australian Mini Challenge has wound up operations at the end of the 2010 season.

It is anticipated that the Australian GT grid will be strong in 2011 despite the global economic conditions and other pressures that are faced in the Australian motorsport scene. Ferrari and Aston Martin will join the grid in 2011 as Maranello Motorsport aim to race two 430 GT3s, with name drives at endurance events. It is also anticipated that a Ford GT and Corvette GT3 will join the already strong lineup of Moslers, Lamborghinis, Porsches, Vipers and of course the Audi R8 GT3 and Ascari GT3 cars.

More news is expected next week for the 2011 Australian GT Championship.

The full 2011 Australian GT Calendar is as follows:

Round 1: Clipsal 500 / March 17‐20 / 1 x 1hr, 1 x 20min races
Round 2: Winton (V8s) / May 20‐22 / 2 x 30min race
Round 3: Eastern Creek / May 28‐29 / 2 x 1 hr race
Round 4: Townsville (V8s) / July 8‐10 / 2 x 30min race
Round 5: Phillip Island (GT) / September 2‐4 / 2 x 1hr race
Round 6: Bathurst 1000 (V8s) / October 6‐9 / 2 x 30 min race
Round 7: Sandown (V8s) / November 18‐20 / 2 x 30 min race