Wednesday, February 3, 2016

2016 Bathurst 12 Hour Preview

Just a week removed from the 24 Hours of Daytona comes the third major endurance race in four weeks but instead of coming from the metropolis of Dubai or the legendary coastal town of Daytona Beach, this one comes from Mount Panorama.

The 15th Bathurst 12 Hour is set for this weekend and 37 cars are entered across three class, twenty-two are GT3 cars and will compete in Class.

Nissan returns to defeat its victory. Katsumasa Chiyo and Florian Strauß will attempt to become the fifth and sixth drivers to win consecutive Bathurst 12 Hours. Joining them this year in the #1 GT-R NISMO GT3 is 2006 V8 Supercars champion and current Nissan Motorsport driver Rick Kelly. Fresh off his victory in the Dubai 24 Hour is Laurens Vanthoor and he leads the #2 Phoenix Racing Audi entry. The Belgian will be joined by Markus Winkelhock and V8 Supercars regular Alex Davison. Vanthoor is going for his third consecutive endurance race victory after he won the Sepang 12 Hours last December.

Six other Audis are entered, five of which belong to Melbourne Performance Centre. Greg Taylor, Barton Mawer and Nathan Antunes will drive the #5 Arris/GT Motorsport/Pete & Co./PAYCE Audi and the #9 Hallmarc/Network Audi will feature 2012 winner Christer Jöns, Marc Cini and Mark Eddy. James and Theo Koundouris will drive the Handley Surveys #49 Audi with Marcus Marshall and Shea Davies. Two cars are entered under the name of James Pem Racing. Two-time winner Christopher Mies looks to join John Bowe as the only three time winners of the event. Joining Mies in the #74 Audi will be Christopher Haase and Marco Mapelli. René Rast will look to do the Daytona-Bathurst double after winning in GTD with Magnus Racing. Rast replaces an injured Craig Lowndes in the #75 Audi alongside 2007 V8SC champion Garth Tander and Steve McLaughlin. Andrew Bagnall, Rick Armstrong and Matt Halliday will drive the #82 International Motorsport Audi.

Bentley Team M Sport returns with two Continental GT3s. Steven Kane, Matt Bell and Guy Smith will pilot the #10 Bentley. Andy Souceck, Maxime Soulet and David Russell are assigned to the #31 Bentley.

Four McLarens are entered. McElrea Racing's #11 McLaren is to be shared by Warren Luff, Tony Walls and Matt Campbell. Keltic Racing returns with the #37 McLaren for Craig Baird, Tony Quinn and Klark Quinn. The other two McLarens belong to Tekno Autosports. Shane Van Gisbergen runs one final time for Tekno, his V8SC team for the previous three seasons. Van Gisbergen moves to Red Bull Racing Australia for 2016. The New Zealanders' co-drivers are Álvaro Parente and Jonathon Webb in the #59 McLaren. Rob Bell, Andrew Watson and Will Davison will drive the #60 McLaren.

Lamborghini will be represented by three Gallardos. Roger Lago will share the #32 Lago Racing Lamborghini with Luke Youlden and Steve Owen. Justin McMillan, John McIntyre, Dale Wood and Glen Wood will drive the #48 Lamborghini for M Motorsport. Performance West Racing has entered the #62 Lamborghini for Nick Percat, Peter Rullo and Scott Andrews.

MISHUMOTORS has entered the #33 Mercedes-Benz of Renger van der Zande, Mirco Schultis and Patrick Simon. The other two Mercedes-Benzes entered belong to Erebus Motorsport. Thomas Jäger, David Reynolds and Nico Bastian will drive the #36 Mercedes-Benz. Bernd Schneider returns with Maro Engel and Austin Cindric as his co-drivers in the #63 Mercedes-Benz. Engel and van der Zande are the only two drivers that competed Dubai and Daytona last month. Engel failed to finish either race. Van der Zande failed to finish in Dubai and was 4th in the PC class, 34th overall at Daytona. Cindric is the only American in field.

Two Ferraris round out the A Class. Vicious Rumor Racing will have Andrea Montermini, Benny Simonsen, Tony Defelice and Renato Loberto drive the #49 Ferrari. Maranello Motorsport returns with the #88 Ferrari for Mika Salo, Toni Vilander, Tony D'Alberto and Grant Denyer.

Seven cars are entered in the B Class for Cup Cars.

Notable entries in the B Class include the #4 Grove Racing Porsche, which will feature Earl Bamber, Steven Grove and Scott McLaughlin. Chris van der Drift will lead the #11 Mobil 1 New Zealand Porsche with Scott O'Donnell and Allan Dipple. The #77 Team NZ Motorsport Porsche features Will Bamber, Graeme Dowsett, John Curran and Craig Smith.

Eight cars in the I Class, five are MARC Car Australia Ford Focus.

Seven drivers have won the Bathurst 12 Hour and Bathurst 1000. Percat, Tander, Kelly and Will Davison could all add their names to that list. The seven drivers are Allan Grice, Gregg Hansford, John Bowe, Dick Johnson, Paul Morris, Tony Longhurst and Craig Lowndes.

This race is the first of three rounds that make up the Intercontinental GT Challenge. The second round will be the Spa 24 Hours in August and Sepang 12 Hours in December.

The race will begin at 1:45 p.m. ET on Saturday. A live stream will be available to international viewers.