KEY DATE CLASH FOR 2022 BATHURST 12 HOUR RETURN

The Bathurst 12 Hour is set to return in 2022. Pic: Porsche

A HOST of international GT stars appear unlikely to make it to the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2022, regardless of travel restrictions.

Intercontinental GT Challenge promoter the SRO Motorsports Group has announced a March 18-20 date for the planned return of the Australian event, after a one-year absence due to the pandemic.

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That date notably clashes with another of the world’s biggest GT races, the IMSA SportsCar Championship’s flagship Sebring 12 Hours in Florida, USA.

The Sebring weekend will feature a double-header in 2022, with the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship to take place as part of the same event.

Various factory-contracted GT stars have previously contested both Bathurst and Sebring and are therefore likely to be forced to skip the Mount Panorama event.

They include Australia’s international Porsche gun Matt Campbell, who won the GTLM class of the 2021 Sebring 12 Hours and took a sensational Bathurst 12 Hour victory back in 2019.

A clash with Sebring was just one notable element of the SRO’s surprise Bathurst 12 Hour announcement, which is dependent on Australia’s current international travel restrictions being lifted.

The new Bathurst date is significantly later than the usual early February slot, which was previously selected to keep it away from other international GT events.

Matt Campbell led Porsche to victory at Bathurst in 2019. Pic: Porsche

The later date could though solve the Bathurst 12 Hour’s ongoing issue around GT3’s homologation deadline and allow 2022-specification cars to take part.

“It is later than usual, but it should give teams more time to prepare and, of course, the travel situation it is improving in Australia,” said SRO boss Stephane Ratel.

“We are very confident that it will be possible to travel to Australia by the end of March.”

The Bathurst 12 Hour is promoted by Supercars in partnership with the Bathurst Regional Council and has been part of the SRO’s IGTC since 2016.

Supercars is yet to respond to the SRO’s date announcement, thought to be keen to get a clearer understanding of travel regulations before addressing it publicly.

This year Supercars filled its Mount Panorama weekend regularly used for the 12 Hour with the Mount Panorama 500, which served as the Repco Supercars Championship’s season-opener.

The 2022 Supercars season has already been announced as starting on the streets of Newcastle on March 4-6.

Aside from Bathurst, the SRO’s 2022 Intercontinental GT Challenge is also set to include the 24 Hours of Spa (July 29-31), Indianapolis 8 Hour (October 8-9) and Kyalami 9 Hour (November 26-27).