With increased interest in Australian GT from teams contesting ‘endurance’ style sports cars, the category administrators have moved to confirm details of the ‘Invitational’ division that will be open to cars that fit outside the existing Australian GT Trophy Series regulations specific to GT3 and one-make production sports cars (Trofeo Challenge).
Of these the most popular addition to Australian GT has been the Australian-made MARC Cars, for which both the MARC I, and MARC II cars have competed within Australian GT over the last few seasons, predominantly within Trophy Series. With the increased performance of the new MARC II Mustang though, and the challenges in ‘de-tuning’ the cars to meet the baseline performance of Trophy Series, the Invitational division has been established to allow them – among others – to compete for their own points and trophies.
“This has been an ongoing discussion for a number of months and we’ve been working closely with both Class 2B Production Sports entries and MARC Cars Australia to establish a solution that allows them to compete at our events,” AGT Category Administrator Kate Harrington confirmed.
“The MARC Cars for instance already compete among the GT3 cars in Creventic endurance events and at the annual Bathurst 12 Hour, so it makes sense for that to continue with us, but their performance level makes it difficult to introduce compensation weights and inlet restrictors – effectively their own BoP – so added to the Class 2B Production Sports Cars that we have entered, they will form part of the ‘Invitational’ category.”
Despite the onset of the Covid-19 virus, the 2020 Australian GT Trophy Series has already seen two rounds completed with half-points ‘warm-up’ events held at both Sandown and Sydney Motorsport Park.
The Victorian round saw the debut in Australian GT of Michael Stillwell’s thunderous Class 2B S197 Mustang, in which the experienced campaigner claimed top points for the round, whilst at round two in Sydney, Michael and son David played second fiddle to the MARC II Mustang of Geoff Taunton, although Michael continues to lead the points.
Taunton’s return to Australian GT – after a cameo appearance last year at the Gold Coast – saw a magic run and some great team strategy during the second of the 60-minute races in Sydney, giving him P2 outright behind Trophy Series front-runners Gary Higgon and Nathan Antunes, in the process claiming top Invitational points for the round.
Like the remainder of the Australian GT teams though, the Trophy Series cars are now in a holding pattern as the current global situation sidelines plans – hopefully for the short-term – with Australian GT investigating a number of test days across the coming months to allow teams to prepare for their return to the various championships later in the season.
The revised 2020 Australian GT Trophy Series Sporting and Technical regulations (published April 3, 2020) Lists ‘Class I’ – Australian GT Trophy Series – entries in three sub classes;
GT Trophy – FIA homologated GT3 automobiles of model year earlier than 2016.
Trofeo Challenge – One make GT Production Sports Cars.
Invitational – Group 2B Prodsports and Invited cars.
Australian GT Trophy Series (points after round two of nine)
1. Matt Stoupas (211-points), 2. Gary Higgon (194), 3. Nathan Antunes (104), 4. Wayne Mack (91), 5. Vince Muriti (90), 5. Nick Kelly (90), 7. Richard Gartner (50), 8. Dale Paterson (6), 9. Peter Corbett (0)
Australian GT Trophy Series – Trofeo Challenge (points after round two of nine)
1. Arthur Abrahams (222-points), 2. Tayla Heath (104)
Australian GT Trophy Series – Invitational (points after round two of nine)
1. Michael Stillwell (214-points), 2. Geoff Taunton (120), 3. David Stillwell (104)
2020 Australian GT Trophy Series – schedule
Rnd#1 – 14-16 February, Sandown, Victoria [VIC Prod. Sports]**
Rnd#2 – 6-8 March, Sydney Motorsport Park, NSW [NSW Prod. Sports]**
Rnd#3 – 10-12 April, Bathurst, NSW [Bathurst 6-Hour] – POSTPONED
Rnd#4 – 15-17 May, Barbagallo, WA [Supercars] – POSTPONED
Rnd#5 – 14-16 August, Phillip Island, Victoria [AEC 4-Hour]
Rnd#6 – 18-20 September, The Bend Motorsport Park, SA [Supercars]
Rnd#7 – 8-11 October, Bathurst, NSW [Supercars]
Rnd#8 – 30 Oct.-1 Nov. Gold Coast, Queensland [Supercars]
Rnd#9 – 20-22 November, Sandown, Victoria [Supercars]
** half points