This weekend! Bathurst! For 12 Hours!
The Bathurst 12 Hour is by far my favourite Motorsport event of the year. The recipe is mega. An epic track like Bathurst with a world-class field in world class machines with added – and necessary – local knowledge.
The driving field is absolute class. For starters, there are a combined 220 Formula 1 Grand Prix starts represented. Then you’ve got current reigning World Endurance Champion Earl Bamber, who also happens to be a current reigning LeMans winner.
All of the reigning Spa 24 Hour race winners are represented – Jules Gounon, Christopher Haase and Markus Winkelhock, as are 3 of the 4 Nurburgring 24 Hour winners – Winkelhock, Christopher Mies and Kelvin van der Linde.
Other international successes include 2-time DTM Champion Marco Wittmann and Blancpain Endurance series winners, Maximillian Buhk, Laurens Vanthoor, Shane van Gisbergen and Côme Ledogar.
Local knowledge is super important at Bathurst with 9 previous 12 Hour winners entered including defending champs Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes – albeit in different cars this year. No less than 12 previous Bathurst 1000 winners will be on the grid, including current champions David Reynolds and Luke Youlden. In fact more than a third of the current full-time Supercars grid will be represented at the 12 Hour.
Even if you’re a GT Racing regular or a Supercars savant it’s a lot to take in. So to unravel all of that excellence, here’s the Holding93.com form guide for the GT3 contenders at Bathurst this weekend;
Bentley Continental GT3
Bentley Team M-Sport
With a new Continental GT3 due to debut for the European racing season in April, Bentley are very keen to give their current challenger a fitting send off. After 45 wins and 120 podiums, it’d only be right. The factory backed M-Sport team has been making the pilgrimage to Bathurst since 2015 and have always challenged for the win, the big Bentleys relishing the long straights – the V8 is always a crowd favourite.
Best Bathurst Result: 3rd (2016, 2017)
Recent Success: 1st place 2017 Blancpain Endurance Cup Teams Championship, 1st place 2017 World Rally Championship (M-Sport Ford)
Bentley Continental GT3. Image from M-Sport
#17, PRO Class
Drivers: Steven Kane, Guy Smith, Jules Gounon
Steven Kane and Guy Smith have been driving together for years with 2018 marking their fourth trip to the mountain together. Bathurst rookie Jules Gounon is a new signing to M-Sport for the 2018 season after success in the 2017 Spa 24 Hour in the Saintéloc Audi.
Best Bathurst Result: 3rd (Kane/Smith – 2016, 2017)
Recent Success: 2nd place 2017 Monza Blancpain main race, 1st Place ADAC GT Masters Championship (Gounon – 2017)
Driver Form Last 5: Kane 18.7.11.DNF.13 / Smith 18.104.22.168 / Gounon 13.2.1.DNF.8
#18, PRO Class
Drivers: Andy Soucek, Maxime Soulet, Vincent Abril
The number 18 car has an unchanged driver line up from the 2017 race. Soucek has made the trip to the mountain 3 times previously, Soulet twice and Abril is returning for his second visit.
Best Bathurst Result: 7th (Soulet, Soucek – 2016)
Recent Success: 1st place 2017 Paul Ricard Blancpain GT race, 2nd in Blancpain Endurance Cup.
Driver Form Last 5: Soucek DNF.22.214.171.124 / Soulet DNF.126.96.36.199 / Abril DNF.7.11.DNF.12
Audi R8 LMS
Audi Sport Team WRT
International giants of GT Racing Audi Sport Team WRT are coming down under for their first crack at the mountain. They’ve won the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, they’ve won the 24 Hours of Spa many times and they’ve taken out the Blancpain Endurance Cup 3 of the 7 times it’s been awarded. The BoP has worked against the Audi in recent years at Bathurst due to its draggy high downforce. If anyone can sort that out, it’s these guys.
Best Bathurst Result: Nil – first attempt.
Recent Success: Blancpain Endurance Cup Teams Champion in 2015, 2014 and 2012. 1st Place in 2017 Qualifying Race Catalunya Blancpain Endurance Series.
Audi R8 LMS. Image from WRT
#37 PRO Class
Drivers: Robin Frijns, Stuart Leonard, Dries Vanthoor
Just Frijns has visited Bathurst before and only came up with a DNF to show for it. Highly credentialed though, this driver line up boasts the 2017 Blancpain Sprint Cup Winners in Frijns and Leonard. Vanthoor had wins at the Hungaroring and in the Nürburgring in 2017 in addition to a LMGTE Pro class win at the 24 Hours of LeMans.
Best Bathurst Result: DNF (Frijns – 2017)
Recent Success: 2017 Blancpain Sprint Cup Champions, 1st Place LMGTE Pro Class 24 Hours of LeMans (Vanthoor – 2017)
Driver Form Last 5: Frijns 188.8.131.52.1 / Leonard 184.108.40.206.5 / Vanthoor 6.1.DNF.10.3
#39 PRO-AM Class
Drivers: Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda, Will Davison
What doesn’t this driver line up have? Formula 1 experience, Bathurst 1000 wins, a WEC Championship and a legendary name. Even though they’re in the AM class, this is a seriously formidable line up.
Best Bathurst Result: 1st Place, Bathurst 1000 (Davison – 2009, 2016)
Recent Success: 2017 WEC LMGTE Am Champions including wins at Spa, COTA, Shanghai and Bahrain (Lamy, Dalla Lana, Lauda)
Driver Form Last 5: Lamy 220.127.116.11.1 / Dalla Lana 18.104.22.168.1 / Lauda 22.214.171.124.1 / Davison 126.96.36.199.14
Audi Sport Customer Racing
Local Audi team and mountain regular run out of Melbourne Performance Centre. Always a very strong contender even though the BoP has worked against the Audis at Bathurst in recent years. They’re always at the pointy end of the Australian GT Championship, with overall wins in 2017 and 2015.
Best Bathurst Result: 7th (2017)
Recent Success: Australian GT Championship Winner 2017 & 2015
Audi Sport Customer Racing. Image Melbourne Performance Centre
#22 PRO Class
Drivers: Garth Tander, Kelvin van der Linde, Frédérick Vervisch
Tander has always proved strong in the Audis and brings great local knowledge to an otherwise rookie line up with 3 Bathurst 1000 wins and a win in the Bathurst 24 Hour. van der Linde did a lot of racing in Australia in 2017 but both he and Vervisch are rookies at Bathurst. When he was in the Audi in 2017 van der Linde looked unstoppable, only losing out to the handicap system in the Australian GT series. He still managed 2 wins at Albert Park and is the current Nürburgring 24hr champion with the Land team.
Best Bathurst Result: 1st Place, Bathurst 1000 (Tander – 2000, 2009, 2011) 1st Place, Bathurst 24 Hour (Tander – 2002)
Recent Success: 1st Place, Nürburgring 24 Hours (van der Linde)
Driver Form Last 5: Tander 188.8.131.52.17 / van der Linde 184.108.40.206.4 / Vervisch 4.11.DNF.6.21
#74 PRO Class
Drivers: Christopher Mies, Christopher Haase, Markus Winkelhock
Some serious international GT driving talent here. Winkelhock has won the Nurburgring 24 Hours 4 times including 2017 and is a former FIA GT1 world champion. He’s also won the Pro-Am Class at the B12hr before. Mies has won the B12hr twice, along with the Australian GT Championship, Nürburgring 24hr and the ADAC GT Masters championship in 2016. Haase is a former 2 time winner of the Nürburgring 24h and in 2014 and 2015 has driven to podium results in the GTD class of the United Sports Car Championship.
Best Bathurst Result: 1st Place, Bathurst 12hr (Mies – 2011, 2012)
Recent Success: 1st Place, Nürburgring 24 Hours (2017 – Mies, Winkelhock), 2nd Place Bathurst 12 Hours (2015 – Winkelhock)
Driver Form Last 5: Mies 220.127.116.11.8 / Haase DNF.18.104.22.168 / Winkelhock 22.214.171.124.5
BMW M6 GT3
BMW Team Schnitzer
After running in the DTM for five years, legendary BMW team Schnitzer have returned to doing what they do best – sports car racing. The marquee factory team are coming down under for their first attempt at the 12 hour, but it is not their first time to the mountain. The 1987 Bathurst 1000 was part of the World Touring Car Championship and Schnitzer would campaign 3 M3 Group A cars.
Best Bathurst Result: 12th, Bathurst 1000 (1987)
Recent Success: 4th place Nürburgring 24h (2017), 7th place ADAC GT Masters Teams Championship (2017)
Schnitzer BMW M6 GT3. Image by Schnitzer
#43 PRO Class
Drivers: Augusto Farfus, Chaz Mostert, Marco Wittmann
Factory driver tour-de-force with BMW’s top driver and two time DTM champion Marco Wittmann. Wittmann came to Bathurst last year and showed promising speed before a power steering issue would see his M6 drop off the pace. Chaz Mostert is great local knowledge with a Bathurst 1000 win to his name. He also set the second fastest lap in qualifying last year and has been racing the M6 in Asia building his experience in the car. Farfus is a current DTM driver and regular M6 competitor. His performance in the #18 Art Car in Macau last year was formidable and only sullied by an unfortunate incident when he was hit from the rear.
Best Bathurst Result: 1st Place, Bathurst 1000 (Mostert – 2014)
Recent Success: Asian LeMans Series Class Leader (Mostert – current), DTM Series Champion (Wittmann – 2014, 2016)
Driver Form Last 5: Farfus 126.96.36.199.7 / Mostert 188.8.131.52.5 / Wittmann 6.DNF.1.13.6
The unluckiest team in Australian motorsport will be looking to get their break this year. After running around in the Aus GT Championship with an an unfavourable BoP during a mostly uncompetitive 2017, SRM will be looking for a big one at Bathurst. The striking Laser blue and yellow liveried M6 ran into technical niggles in 2017 with a power steering failure caused by a tiny part shared with the road car. After being one of the fastest cars on the mountain in 2017, these guys will be out for redemption.
Best Bathurst Result: 14th (2017)
Recent Success: –
Laser Plumbing & Electrical BMW M6 GT3 at Skyline, Image by BMW Team SRM
#100 PRO Class
Drivers: Steven Richards, Timo Glock, Philipp Eng
Another very strong factory driver line up. Timo Glock brings Formula 1 experience and has been plying his trade in the DTM in recent years. Phillip Eng is one of BMW’s best GT drivers. He finished 4th in the 2017 ADAC GT Masters and won the Spa 24 Hours in 2016. Richards in his 2nd appearance driving for his eponymous team at the 12 hour has extensive Bathurst experience including four wins in the 1000.
Best Bathurst Result: 1st Place, Bathurst 1000 (Richards – 1998, 1999, 2013, 2015)
Recent Success: 1st Place DTM Zandvoort (Glock – 2017), Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Champion (Richards – 2014), 1st Place Bathurst 1000 (Richards – 2015), 1st Place Spa 24h (Eng, 2016)
Driver Form Last 5: Richards DNF.DNF.4.7.11 / Glock 184.108.40.206.8 / Eng 9.DNF.12.13.17
Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX
The Lamborghini R-EX is getting long in the tooth now, but Lago Racing manages to keep popping up at the top of the sheets in the Australian GT Series. These guys are contesting the PRO-AM class, however with a well-run outfit and an unchanged, strong local line up, don’t be surprised if they’re in contention towards the end.
Best Bathurst Result: 6th (2017)
Recent Success: 2nd place Bathurst 12h GT3 AM (2017), 1st place Albert Park Aus GT Championship Race (2017)
Lago Racing JBS Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX. Image by Australian GT Championship
#32 PRO-AM Class
Drivers: Roger Lago, David Russell, Steve Owen
All of these guys have class wins at the 12 hour. Russell and Owen are also regular co-drivers in the endurance races of the Supercars championship. There is a lot of Bathurst experience in this line up. Certainly one of the dark horses.
Best Bathurst Result: 2nd (Owen – 2010, 2015)
Recent Success: 1st place Gold Coast 600 race 1 (Owen – 2017), 3rd place Sandown 500 (Owen – 2017) 3rd place Albert Park Aus GT Championship Race (Russell, 2017), 1st place Albert Park Aus GT Championship Race (Lago, 2017)
Driver Form Last 5: Lago 5.DNS.DNS.6.6 / Russell 6.DNS.23.16.DNF / Owen 220.127.116.11.1
McLaren 650S GT3
The McLarens have always been a force to be reckoned with at Mount Panorama. Especially with Shane van Gisbergen at the wheel. McElrea Racing run YNA Autosport have been solid in the Australian GT Championship and have expanded to a 3 car operation in for 2017. With this driver line up, you can expect fireworks.
Best Bathurst Result: 20th (Objective Racing – 2017)
Recent Success: 5th Australian GT Championship (Fraser Ross – 2017), 1st place race 3 Sandown Australian GT Championship (Fraser Ross – 2017)
Opti-Coat McLaren 650S GT3. Image McElrea Racing
#58 PRO Class
Drivers: Shane van Gisbergen, Craig Lowndes, Côme Ledogar
Big line up, big line up. Most international race fans will be familiar with the heroics of Shane Van Gisbergen by now. Some truly epic drives and a win-it-or-bin-it attitude make this guy a total crowd favourite. Gizzy won it in 2016, then he threw his STM Mercedes into the wall at the dipper while doggedly chasing down the lead in 2017. He also took out the Blancpain Endurance Cup in 2016 along with Côme Ledogar and McLaren while jetting back and forth between his Supercars commitments. Lowndes is one of the defending champions of the B12h, yet he’s won it once before. Add to that 6 wins of the October race and you’ve got one of the most highly credentialed driver line ups on the grid – and Ledogar is only in his Bathurst sophomore year.
Best Bathurst Result: 1st place (Lowndes – 2014, 2017, van Gisbergen – 2016), 1st place Bathurst 1000 (Lowndes – 1996, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2015)
Recent Success: 1st place Supercars Championship (van Gisbergen, 2016), 1st place Blancpain Endurance Series (van Gisbergen, Ledogar – 2016), 3rd place Bathurst 12h (Ledogar, 2017)
Driver Form Last 5: van Gisbergen 18.104.22.168.3 / Lowndes DNF.DNF.4.8.4 / Ledogar 22.214.171.124.1
#47 PRO-AM Class
Drivers: Scott McLaughlin, Fraser Ross, Andrew Watson, Alexander West
Scott McLaughlin missed out on winning the Supercars Championship in 2017 by the narrowest of margins. As one of the hottest drivers in Australia right now, this car will have a lot of speed when he’s in the car. Fraser Ross is also very handy and put together a solid run in the Australian GT Championship last year taking a win at the last round. Both Ross and West are Bathurst rookies with Watson having competed in 2016.
Best Bathurst Result: 5th place Bathurst 1000 (McLaughlin – 2015)
Recent Success: 2nd place Supercars Championship (McLaughlin, 2017), 5th Australian GT Championship (Ross – 2017), 1st place race 3 Sandown Australian GT Championship (Ross – 2017)
Driver Form Last 5: McLaughlin 126.96.36.199.1 / Ross DNF.188.8.131.52 / Watson DNF.184.108.40.206 / West 220.127.116.11.DNF
Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing
British based ex-LMP2 contender Strakka Racing abandoned prototypes to field McLaren GT3 cars in the Blancpain series in 2017. After a largely forgettable year, they are refocusing their efforts in 2018 with a pair of new Mercedes AMG GT3 cars which they are running at Bathurst for the first time.
Best Bathurst Result: Nil – first attempt.
Recent Success: 1st place 24 Hours of LeMans LMP2 (2010)
Strakka Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. Image, Strakka Racing
#56 PRO Class
Drivers: Maximillian Buhk, Maximillian Götz, Álvaro Parente
Maxi and Maxi have both been exceptionally strong Mercedes drivers in Europe. Now with the Strakka outfit for Bathurst, expect this to be a very consistent car. Parente won the 12 hour in 2016 with van Gisbergen and Jonathon Webb as a McLaren factory driver. The AMG is a very different car but expect him to be on the pace right away.
Best Bathurst Result: 1st place (Parente – 2016)
Recent Success: 1st place Blancpain Series Sprint Cup Misano & Nurburgring (Buhk – 2017), 1st place Blancpain GT Series Asia Suzuka (Götz – 2017), 1st place Blancpain GT Series Pro-Am Spa-Francorchamps (Götz – 2017), 2nd place Pirelli World Challenge Championship (Parente – 2017)
Driver Form Last 5: Buhk 4.3.4.DNF.20 / Götz 6.3.3.DNF.DNF / Parente 2.DNF.6.DNF.2
#55 PRO-AM Class
Drivers: Nick Leventis, Lewis Williamson, Cameron Waters, David Fumanelli
Team owner Nick Leventis teams up with local experience in the Pro-Am class. Cam Waters is one of the up and coming stars in the Supercars series, having taken out the Sandown 500 with Richie Stanaway and running in contention for the win all day in the 2017 edition of the Bathurst 1000.
Best Bathurst Result: 4th place (Waters – 2016)
Recent Success: 1st place Sandown 500 (Waters – 2017)
Driver Form Last 5: Leventis 4.DNF.13.13.19 / Williamson 4.13.17.DNF.25 / Waters 18.104.22.168.21 / Fumanelli 4.DNF.13.18.11
Mercedes-AMG Team SunEnergy1 Racing
An American team with an Australian heart, Kenny Habul is Australian-turned-American businessman. He usually runs this car in the IMSA WeatherTech series in the United States.
Best Bathurst Result: Nil – first attempt.
Recent Success: 3rd place IMSA race Sebring (2017), 3rd place IMSA race COTA (2017)
#75 PRO Class
Drivers: Kenny Habul, Tristan Vautier, Jamie Whincup, Raffaele Marciello
Habul, Vautier and Marciello are all rookies to this place. They do have a very, very experienced co driver though. None other than Supercars GOAT, Jamie Whincup. If you’re not a Supercars fan, this guy makes Tom Brady look underprepared and unprofessional. He’s one win from one attempt at the B12hr.
Best Bathurst Result: 1st place (Whincup – 2017), 1st place Bathurst 1000 (Whincup – 2006, 2007,2008, 2012)
Recent Success: 1st place Supercars Championship (Whincup – 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017)
Driver Form Last 5: Habul DNF.DNF.12.DNF.12 / Vautier 20.DNF.1.12.24 / Whincup 22.214.171.124.2 / Marciello DNF.126.96.36.199
Porsche 911 GT3 R
Olaf Manthey is an ex-racing driver from Meuspath in Germany. You might have heard of it before. If not, it’s just next to the Döttinger Höhe straight at the Nürburgring. Since stepping away from driving in 1995, his team has been the preeminent Porsche racing squad in Europe. With Porsche Supercup successes and more Nürburgring 24 Hour wins than the Romans invented numerals for his team will be formidable at the only other track in the world that is similar to his home course.
Best Bathurst Result: Nil – first attempt.
Recent Success: 3rd place FIA WEC Endurance Trophy for LMGTE Pro Teams (2017 as Porsche GT Team)
Manthey-Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R at the Nürburgring. Image, Manthey-Racing
#911 PRO Class
Drivers: Romain Dumas, Frederic Makowiecki, Dirk Werner
Make no mistake, this car is here to win. Porsche have sent Manthey out with one goal. Bring home the Intercontinental GT Challenge. None of these guys have Bathurst experience. That won’t matter. Seriously talented and credentialed professional drivers here, with LMP1 experience, WEC GTE experience and ALMS experience.
Best Bathurst Result: Nil – no experience
Recent Success: 1st place FIA WEC LMP1 (Dumas 2016), 2nd place FIA WEC LMGTE Pro (Makowiecki – 2017), 1st place VLN 1 (Makowiecki, Dumas – 2017), 1st place VLN 2 (Makowiecki – 2017), 1st place VLN 5 (Dumas – 2017)
Driver Form Last 5: Dumas 3.7.DNF.3.6 / Makowiecki 188.8.131.52.2 / Werner 6.3.8.DNF.1
Craft-Bamboo racing is the amalgamation of Hong Kong and British based motorsport teams. It has competed in the World Touring Car Championship, WEC and TCR International series but is possibly best known in this part of the world for competing in GT Races such as the Bathurst 12 hour and the Asian LeMans series. Their last appearance at the mountain was in 2015.
Best Bathurst Result: 3rd (2015)
Recent Success: 2nd place TCR International Series (2017), 1st place TCR International Series (2016)
#991 PRO Class
Drivers: Earl Bamber, Kévin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor
Another strong driver line up from Porsche. Bathurst is one place they have never won a top level race at and they’re certainly not holding back the driving talent. This same line up is actually unchanged from last year, although last year they drove a Walkinshaw prepared 911 GT3 R to a DNF. Earl Bamber is a current LMP1 World Champion and 24 Hours of LeMans winner. Kevin Estre has been to Bathurst before but is yet to finish a race. Laurens Vanthoor has competed four times before and has shown excepitonal pace. He has 3 top 5 finishes topped by a 2nd place in 2015 and the winner of the Allan Simonsen Pole Position Trophy in the same year.
Best Bathurst Result: 2nd (Vanthoor – 2015)
Recent Success: 1st place FIA WEC LMP1 (Bamber – 2017), 1st place 24 Hours of LeMans (Bamber – 2017), 1st place Bathurst 12 Hour Class B (Bamber – 2014, 2016), 1st place Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Championship (Bamber – 2014), 1st place Macau GT Cup (Vanthoor – 2016), 1st place Intercontinental GT Challenge (Vanthoor – 2016), 1st place Nürburgring 24h (Vanthoor – 2016)
Driver Form Last 5: Bamber 184.108.40.206.5 / Estre DNF.DNF.3.DNF.1 / Vanthoor 6.DNF.5.9.7
The Bathurst 12 Hour will be broadcast live, in full on 7mate from 5:30am Eastern Daylight Savings Time on Sunday the 4th of February.
New Zealand and International Streaming is also available. Further information about viewing and stream links can be found here: http://www.bathurst12hour.com.au/streams-tv/
If you’re tweeting or commenting, be sure to use the official hashtag #B12hr. Make sure you throw #H93 in there as well.