Nissan Joins 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli
Six full-time manufacturers confirmed for series heading to California 8 Hours March 29-30
Nissan has become the sixth manufacturer to confirm a full-season Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli campaign for 2019. The announcement comes six days before the championship’s opening round in Australia — the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour on February 1-3.
The China-based KCMG team will run two latest-specification GT-R NISMO GT3s at Mount Panorama this weekend before also entering the series’ other four rounds at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (USA), Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), Suzuka (Japan) and Kyalami (South Africa).
Nissan is joining Audi, Bentley, BMW, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche on the list of full-season Intercontinental GT Challenge manufacturers. That’s one more than the previous record of five that competed in 2018, although two more are expected to confirm their participation this week.
KCMG spent 2018 racing the same GT-R NISMO GT3s in Blancpain GT Series Asia before making appearances at the Macau FIA GT World Cup and end-of-season FIA GT Nations Cup in Bahrain where the team represented its native Hong Kong. It also made a one-off Intercontinental GT Challenge outing at the Suzuka 10 Hours in August.
Five of the six drivers that competed with KCMG and Nissan at Suzuka last season return this weekend. Rolex 24 at Daytona pole winner Oliver Jarvis, a Bathurst podium finisher with Bentley in 2017, heads Down Under directly from Daytona to partner with Alexandre Imperatori and Edoardo Liberati aboard KCMG’s No. 18 entry.
2019 represents the new GT-R’s debut outing at Bathurst and Nissan’s first there since 2017. It’s also the first time that a Japanese manufacturer has contested a full Intercontinental GT Challenge campaign.
“Nissan’s addition to this year’s roster not only breaks the championship’s record for manufacturer participants in a single season but also ensures another new-generation GT3 model will be racing with us on five continents this year,” Stephane Ratel, SRO Motorsports Group Founder and CEO. “Nissan already enjoys a successful history in SRO-rules racing on the world stage thanks to its FIA GT1 Drivers’ title – also achieved with the GT-R – in 2011. The GT-R NISMO GT3 demonstrated its potential at Suzuka last season and I have no doubt it will be a force along with KCMG throughout 2019.”
This weekend’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour is followed at the end of March by the California 8 Hours. The third annual California 8 Hours marks the first Intercontinental GT Challenge outing for the new Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo and Porsche 911 GT3 R. Other new-for-2019 GT3 machinery is also expected alongside GTC, GT4 and TCR entries.
Incredibly, just 5.3s separated the top-two finishers last season after eight hours of racing. South African ace Kelvin van der Linde will also be hoping to make it back-to-back-to-back wins, subject to his selection, after previously triumphing with Audi Sport Team Land and Team Magnus.
Tickets to the Intercontinental GT Challenge California 8 Hours on March 29-30 are available at advance pricing here or by calling 831-242-8200.