The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour continues its upward trajectory with its most star-studded line-up in 2017.
The following major talking points for the 'other' endurance event at Mount Panorama were published in V8X Supercar Magazine issue #96.
Issue #96 is on sale now in stores with the digital edition available in the official V8X app (in the App Store and Google Play), online at DigitalEdition.V8XMagazine.com.au and in the Magzter app store.
CLICK HERE for more information on V8X Supercar Magazine issue #96.
The talking points are:
1 GOING PRO
The Bathurst 12 Hour will feature an all-professional class for the first time in 2017. The new class sits above the existing Pro-Am and all-amateur classes and brings the event closer to the Blancpain Endurance Series regulations. The move will ease the concerns over the seeding issues that have plagued recent 12 Hours, whereby teams were forced to field unseeded drivers. Adding to prestige of the event is the move to award the 12 Hour winners with the Australian Tourist Trophy.
2 SUPERCARS STARS
Jamie Whincup, Mark Winterbottom and Chaz Mostert had resisted GT racing... until now. Whincup partners long-time Triple Eight Race Engineering teammate Craig Lowndes in a Ferrari 488 GT3 at Maranello Motorsport. Winterbottom joins his 2013 Bathurst 1000-winning co-driver Steven Richards and DTM champion Marco Wittmann in a BMW Team SRM M6 GT3. Mostert will partner his 2014 Bathurst 1000-winning co-driver Paul Morris and MARC GT driver Morgan Haber in the team's BMW M6 GT3. Without the GT mileage of some of their Supercars counterparts, their progress at the event will be fascinating to follow.
3 SVG'S DEFENCE
Shane van Gisbergen led the way for Supercars drivers in GT racing. His turn of speed from his first outings in sportscars showed that Supercars drivers had what it takes in the more exotic cars. In addition to his 2016 Supercars championship win, he claimed the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup and Bathurst 12 Hour titles. He will be the driver to beat at the event, moving to Scott Taylor Motorsport's Mercedes AMG GT3 entry from Tekno Autosports' McLaren outfit.
4 LEGENDS UNITE
Mark Skaife, Russell Ingall and Tony Longhurst have a combined total of 10 Bathurst 1000 wins. They will now share a BMW Team SRM M6 GT3 along with former Formula 1 driver Timo Glock. Throw in Richards and Winterbottom in the second BMW Team SRM M6 GT3 entry and the team features a total of 15 Bathurst 1000 wins, the most star-studded line-up ever entered in the event.
5 MANUFACTURER BATTLE
GT racing is booming with manufacturer interest. And that's reflected in the entry list. BMW beefs up its commitment with five Bathurst 1000 winners combined with European-based factory drivers across its entries. Miedecke Stone Motorsport will field a trio of Aston Martin entries. Four Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s are locked in, two from the factory Nissan Motorsport/NISMO outfit. Maranello Motorsport debuts the Ferrari 488 GT3 at Mount Panorama. Meanwhile, entry-level GT4 vehicles include McLaren's 570 GT4, Porsche's Cayman GT4 Clubsport and the KTM X-Bow.
6 SHOOTOUT INTRODUCED
The 12 Hour further mirrors the Bathurst 1000 with the introduction of a top-10 shootout in 2017. A staple of the 1000, the Pirelli Shootout will be the first held for GT cars at Mount Panorama to decide the polesitter (Allan Simonsen Pole Award).
7 TRACKING GROWTH
The 12 Hour notched up a 14 per cent increase in crowds for a record attendance in 2016, though the total of 37,079 still pales in comparison to the attendance of 204,512 for the 1000. But as the event grows with increased coverage, will it edge closer to the 1000's crowd?
CLICK HERE to purchase the print edition of V8X Supercar Magazine issue #96.