The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour will feature an all-professional class for the first time next year.
Event officials have decided to allow all-professional driver line-ups in Class A for the February 3-5 marathon that will take the sting out of the much-maligned driver seeding issues.
After going to GT3 regulations for the first time in 2011, teams have been forced to field ‘unseeded’ drivers (FIA Silver and Bronze) in their line-ups.
Under the FIA seeding system it has tended to place experienced Bathurst racers in a more favourable position with a lower driver grading compared to their international counterparts.
The all-professional class will now sit above the existing Pro-Am and all-amateur classes.
As a result the move brings Bathurst closer into line with the European-based Blancpain Endurance Series.
It remains to be seen the full effect the professional class will have on overall entries and local unseeded drivers, who have snared factory drives in the past.
Organisers have also confirmed the introduction of the new Pro/Am Trophy award, which will be contested by Pro-Am and Amateur class entries.
The 12 Hour will retain its status as the opening round of the 2017 Intercontinental GT Challenge, while the Blancpain GT Series’ Claude Surmont will continue his technical director role at the event.
After missing out on this year’s race all 2016 specification GT3 cars are now eligible to enter.
Class B will now allow the latest specification Porsche 991 GT3 Cup car while Class C will remain for GT4 machines. The Invitational Class will continue into 2017.
Entries for next year’s race are open until December 16, with early-bird entries closing on August 31.