The future of the FIA GT1 World Championship has been secured with the entry of three teams put together by series boss Stephane Ratel.
Ratel was instrumental in bringing together the deals that will put Aston Martin, Porsche and Ford on the grid for the coming season. Their addition to the six manufacturers already on the entry brings the list up to the 18-car contractual minimum required for the series to continue.
Ratel said: "I am delighted that the Stephane Ratel Organization was able to orchestrate the establishment of three additional teams to bring the grid up to 18. They are all SRO-engineered teams: we have found the cars, we have found someone to run them and we have found the drivers."
The French LMP Motorsports squad will field two Aston Martin DBRS9s under the Valmon Racing Team Russia banner before swapping to the new-for-2012 Vantage V12 midseason.
Exim Bank Team China, under whose flag a pair of Chevrolet Corvettes ran in 2011, will continue as a Porsche squad this season. Its pair of Porsche 911 GT3-Rs will be run by the Muhlner Motorsport squad.
A pair of Ford GTs have been entered by the Spanish SUNRED Engineering squad. Ratel raised the prospect of these cars running under an Indian flag.
The newcomers join AF Corse (Ferrari), Vita4One (BMW), Team WRT (Audi), Hexis (McLaren), All-Inkl.com/Munnich Motorsport (Mercedes) and Reiter Engineering (Lamborghini) on the GT1 World entry list.
Russian Mikhail Aleshin, who will also compete in Formula Renault 3.5 this season, is scheduled to drive one of the Aston Martins. It is expected that the second LMP-run car will be raced by Andy Soucek and Andreas Zuber. Former Jaguar Formula 1 driver Antonio Pizzonia is in the frame to drive one of the Porsches.
The third season of the FIA GT1 World Championship kicks off at Nogaro on April 8-9