10 marques line up for Bathurst
Ten of the leading marques in global GT3 endurance competition will line up on the Liqui-moly Bathurst 12-Hour starting grid in early February.
A mid-december flurry of entries saw international Bentley, Porsche, BMW, Ferrari, Nissan and Lamborghini teams confirmed and join earlier announcements that put Mercedes-amg, Audi, Mclaren and Aston Martin machinery on the entry list for the February 3 “round the clock” enduro at Mount Panorama.
The Bathurst 12-Hour race is the first of five events in the 2019 FIA Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC) which also includes endurance races at Laguna Seca (California), Suzuka (Japan), the Spa 24 Hours (Belgium) and Kyalami in South Africa.
At the Bathurst race the grid blends many of world’s best GT drivers with stars from the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship. Defending champions Audi Customer Racing has confirmed two R8 LMS cars for Bathurst under the Team Valvoline banner with driving squads still to be announced. Three other Audi
R8s have been entered — the Hallmarc team with Lee Holdsworth, Marc Cini, Dean Fiore, Audi Sport Team MPC (no drivers announced) and Matt Stone Racing/aussie Driver Search with Todd Hazelwood on the driver roster.
Porsche recently announced a full-season IGTC commitment with two cars and full factory driver rosters. The line-ups are Matt Campbell (Australia), Dennis Olson (Norway) and Dirk Werner
(Germany) and a second car for Le Mans 24 Hours winner and Pikes Peak record holder Romain Dumas (France) teamed with Sven Muller (Germany) and Mathieu Jaminet (France).
Two other Porsche teams have entered with the Competition Motorsports/mcelrea Racing car to be crewed by Us-based Australian David Calvert-jones, Kevin Estre (France) and Jaxon Evans (NZ) while Black Swan Racing fields Tim Pappas (USA), Marc Lieb (Germany), Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands).
BMW representation includes a car each from German squads Walkenhorst Motorsport — the 2018 Spa 24 Hours winning team — and Team Schnitzer.
The Walkenhorst M6 GT3 will be crewed by Christian Krognes (Norway), Nick Catsburg (Netherlands) and Mikkel Jensen (Denmark) and the Schnitzer squad comprises Augusto Farfus (Brazil), Martin Tomczyk (Germany) and Bathurst 1000 winner Chaz Mostert.
One new car on the Mountain in 2019 will be the second generation Bentley Continental GT3. Bentley Team M-sport returns to Bathurst with two cars and has yet to allocate driver trios but the IGTC squad for 2019 includes Vincent Abril (Monaco), Jules Gounon (France), Steven Kane (GB), Andy Soucek (Spain), Maxime Soulet (Belgium) and Jordan Pepper (South Africa).
Mercedes-amg is very strongly represented by six cars including Gruppem Racing, Team Ninteen Corp Black Falcon, Sunenergy1 Racing and Team Craft Bamboo Black Falcon — which has confirmed a star driver line-up comprising Germans Maro Engel and Luca Stolz with DTM champion Gary Paffett (GB).
Much of the Mercedes-amg attention is focused on local cars from Queensland-based Scott Taylor Motorsport which has partnered with two of the leading teams from the Virgin Australian Supercars Championship to run its Mercedes-amg GT3 coupes.
A partnership with Triple Eight Race Engineering brings the headline combination of Jamie Whincup, Shane van Gisbergen and Craig Lowndes to a Pro category entry while a second car in the Pro-am run category in conjunction with Erebus Motorsport will be driven by David Reynolds, Luke Youlden and Yasser Shahin.
Aston Martin was the first brand to confirm its GT3 participation in the Bathurst 12-Hour as early as July with Switzerland’s R-motorsport squad fielding two Vantage V12 GT3 cars. A Mclaren entry has already been confirmed from Objective Racing running in the Pro-am category with its 650S GT3 with team-owner Tony Walls joined by Australian Warren Luff and Mclaren factory driver Andrew Watson from Scotland. Ferrari and Lamborghini will be represented by two cars each.
The BMW Schnitzer team returns to the Bathurst 12-Hour with a driver lineup that includes Supercars ace Chaz Mostert.