The 2019 Gulf 12 Hours is set to take place on 14 December 2019, but the plan from Race Organiser Andrea Ficcarelli is for the lead in for next years race to have a significantly different feel from the events held at Yas Marina thus far.
The date, a direct clash with the FIA WEC race in 2019 in nearby Bahrain, is a matter which Ficcarelli says is no problem whatsoever for the teams and drivers who would be coming to the Gulf 12 Hours, is fixed.
How the entry is compiled though is set to change radically.
Firstly the entry is to be capped at 32 cars, and the race is set to be promoted primarily as an invitation event with a list of cars/ teams set to be invited to return, that list to be issued tomorrow (16 December) to teams with racing history and/ or success at the race, with an initial request for entries from that list to be confirmed by February 2019 and a stated aim to issue a partial provisional entry by May 2019.
There will be four entries reserved for ‘special’ projects including cars and teams of interest that emerge later in the year.
“Our objective is to focus on teams and brands rather than categories and classes – We think we can fill this grid with our core classes and teams and want to give ourselves the opportunity to work towards an ability to manage the even more effectively, and to build an event around an assured high-quality grid.”
The race will remain principally as a GT3 event, with open questions as to whether LMP3s will continue to play any significant part, a matter only made more questionable if and when the ACO announce their planned increase of power output for the future LMP3 class. Ficcarelli revealed that paddock views were mixed on the matter, some firmly against their inclusion others, including TF Sport, completely ambivalent on the matter.
“Certainly this is going to be a race where GT3 cars race to win. It seems wrong that we would welcome these cars in numbers then subject them to BoP whilst seeing LMP3 cars outperform them on lap time.
The implication is that if the LMP3 cars do return, they are likely to find some fairly significant ruleset changes!
Whilst the promoters are open to looking at a specific racing product for TCR cars any thought that they would race in the 12 Hours proper was dismissed by Ficcarelli but GT4 cars would certainly remain, Andrea agreeing that the number of cars that were on the entry this year was disappointing and that the GT4 race at Bahrain two weeks ago supporting the FIA GT Nations Cup was similarly disappointed (a point of view agreed with by Stephane Ratel).