The 2020 Intercontinental GT Challenge finale has been pushed back to December although organisers insist that still leaves time to send cars to Bathurst for the 2021 opener.
The Kyalami 9 Hour will now be held on December 10-12, three weeks after its original date and just 57 days prior to what would be race day, February 7, at next year’s Bathurst 12 Hour.
SRO’s announcement states, however, “The new date also provides sufficient time for cars and equipment to travel directly to Australia for 2021’s season opener – the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour – on February 6/7.”
A tight turnaround on the other side of the South African leg of the season has been cited as the reason for the date change, with less than four weeks between the rescheduled 24 Hours of Spa, which will actually last 25 hours, and Kyalami on the previous calendar.
There is also no room for an Asian round to replace Suzuka, leaving the 2020 season at four races.
“Moving Kyalami back to mid-December is a common-sense decision that eases any logistical complications for teams travelling from Europe where most of the 9 Hour’s entry is expected to come from,” said Stephane Ratel, CEO of SRO, which runs the IGTC.
“COVID-19 itself has not been a factor in our decision, although the virus’ influence on other racing calendars – including SRO’s – has most certainly played a role in the decision, which ensures as many cars as possible have the potential to compete in South Africa.
“Last year’s 9 Hour – the first for 22 years – was an incredible success that re-established Kyalami’s place on the international motorsport map. We fully expect December’s Intercontinental GT Challenge finale to continue that legacy.
“Restricting the 2020 calendar to four events also makes complete sense. There were discussions about staging Asia’s race elsewhere, but we and our nine full-season manufacturers ultimately felt this year wouldn’t be the right time to introduce a new event.”
An SRO spokesperson told Speedcafe.com last month that “We fully intend” for the Bathurst 12 Hour to go ahead next year.
That statement followed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comments that international travel would not be allowed for “the foreseeable future”, a position he essentially reiterated yesterday when he said it has “no imminent starting date”, while opening the door to a potential travel ‘bubble’ with Japan.
Bentley Team M-Sport won this year’s IGTC season-opener at Mount Panorama before the British marque pulled its factory team effort from the campaign, with the Indianapolis 8 Hour next on October 2-4.
Intercontinental GT Challenge 2020 calendar Revised
|1||Bathurst 12 Hour||Australasia||Jan 31-Feb 2|
|2||Indianapolis 8 Hour||North America||Oct 2-4|
|3||24 Hours of Spa||Europe||Oct 22-25|
|4||Kyalami 9 Hour||Africa||Dec 10-12|