New class structure for 2012 Australian GT championship

The class structure for the Australian GT Championship has been revised and expanded to cater for a wider variety of exotic sports cars for the 2012 season. The series will now feature four classes, the outright GT Championship class headlining the latest 2011 spec cars complying to FIA GT3 regulations, such as the Ferrari 458 Italia, Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 - LP600, Ford GT- 40 GT3, Mercedes - Benz SLS AMG GT3, and Audi R8.

The GT Trophy class has been added to allow older spec GT3 cars to remain competitive. Cars such as the Ferrari 430, Lamborghini LP520, Porsche GT3 997 Cup S and Dodge Viper Competition Coupe Series 1 are now eligible for class honors, as well as mixing it up with outright contenders.

The Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car will remain the benchmark entry in the GT Challenge class, along with the Lotus Exige S and Ferrari 360 Challenge, while the new GT Sports class will be more closely aligned with the FIA GT4 eligibility list and feature the Ginetta G50, Ford Mustang FR500 GT4, Chevrolet Camaro GT4 and Nissan GTR R35.

"A number of these cars are already in Australia, so it was important we created a class where they can all still be competitive," explained series administrator Craig Nayda. "Interest has been strong across all classes so we are pretty excited about how the 2012 season is shaping up."

Series owner, Tony Quinn, has placed an order for a new Ferrari 458 Italia, which will land in time for round one of the Championship at Adelaide's Clipsal 500, while 2011 Championship runner up, Klark Quinn, will move across to the Porsche GT3 R for this year. Adelaide's Kevin Weeks will also debut his new Ford GT - 40 GT3 in Adelaide, along with James Brocks Mercedes - Benz SLS AMG GT3 for Erebus Racing.

Reigning Champ Mark Eddy will defend his title in the Audi R8, with another 2 entries from the German marque expected on the grid in Adelaide. Greg Crick's Dodge Viper and Peter Hackett's Mercedes - Benz will also be series frontrunners.

In other series news, Mark Trounson has been appointed the Technical Manager for the 2012 Championship. The Melbourne based engineer has a long history in motor racing and purchased Melbourne dyno business "Dynomotive" in the early 90's. He has worked with drivers such as Jim Richards, and engineered the 2011 Australian Superbike Championship winning team.

Round 1 of the Australian GT Championship will feature a one hour twilight race on the Saturday evening of the Clipsal 500, followed by a 30 minute sprint race on the Sunday. Both races will feature compulsory timed pit stops and optional driver changes.

2012 Vehicle Eligibility List (Draft subject to CAMS Approval)

GT ChampionshipAston Martin DBRS9Audi R8 LMSBMW Z4 GT3Chevrolet Corvette Z06R GT3Dodge Viper Competion Coupe Series 2Ferrari 458 ItaliaFord GT40 GT3Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 - LP 600Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3Mosler MT900 GT3Nissan GTR GT3Porsche 911 GT3 R

GT TrophyAscari KZ1 GT3Dodge Viper Competion Coupe Series 1Ferrari F430 GT3Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 - LP 520Lotus Exige GT3Porsche 997 GT3 Cup S

GT ChallengeChevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3Dodge Viper ACRFerrari 360 ChallengeFerrari 360 GTFerrari 430 ChallengeLotus Exige SPorsche 996 GT3 Cup CarPorsche 996 GT3 RPorsche 997 GT3 Cup Car

GT SportsAston Martin Vantage GT4Aston Martin Vantage N24BMW M3 GT4BMW Z4Chevrolet Camaro GT4Chevrolet Corvette C6Ford Mustang FR500 GT4Ginetta G50Lotus Evora GT4Maserati TrofeoNissan 370ZNissan GTR R35Porsche 997 GT4Porsche Cayman