Sydney Motorsport Park will host the first race of the rearranged Australian GT Championship season. The return of Australian GT to the race track is scheduled for 14-16 August as part of the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships.
The Australian GT season came to an abrupt halt last March when the country went into lockdown. At the time, three rounds had already taken place: the Australian Endurance Championship race as part of the Bathurst 12 Hour, and two Trophy Series rounds at Sandown and Sydney Motorsport Park with two races each. The Australian GT Championship itself, consisting of sprint races, had yet to hold its first race weekend.
While the series awaits final confirmation of its full revised schedule for 2020, the two 60-minute sprint races at Eastern Creek near Sydney are locked in place.
“For the last fortnight the calendar has seen many iterations, and whilst we are close to revealing the full 2020 Australian GT Championship program, we are awaiting final approval from the various stakeholders before we can reveal that,” Australian GT organiser Jim Manolios explained. “That said, we have locked in the season opener which is important to allow teams to schedule a return to racing, so we wanted to at least release that news as soon as we could!”
Australian GT is expected to present a five-race schedule with all cars – GT3, GT4, Trophy Series, Trofeo Challenge and the Invitational category – sharing the same grid.
Ryan Simpson, who contested the championship part-time in 2019 aboard the 59Racing McLaren 720S GT3, will make his first appearance of the season teaming up with Eggleston Motorsport. The New South Welshman has taken delivery of an ex-Mark Griffith Mercedes-AMG GT3.
“Last year was a real eye opener with respect to both the GT4 and GT3 McLarens,” Simpson said. “The performance of the car wasn’t such an issue, nor getting used to it, but the way the team operated with support from the factory, and the quality of the competition really stood out, so we were keen to look at how we could campaign our own car at a similar level and what we’d need to do that.
“We looked at a variety of cars through last season as we started planning for this year. It was clear the McLaren, the Audi and the Mercedes-AMG had the runs on the board, but for our business at Parramatta Smash Repairs, the decision was part made due to our relationship with Mercedes-Benz, for whom we are an authorised auto body repairer.
“Having seen a few of them last season – notably the Eggleston car of Peter Hackett – I could see why they were so popular, so in the end, we bought the car Mark Griffith had in the country, which had done relatively little work, and had enjoyed a refresh post-Bathurst last year, and with support from Eggleston’s we’ve given it a birthday and a new lick of paint in preparation for our debut once the season finally gets underway.”