2017 grid building momentum

Bath12hr-16-0106

AN IMPRESSIVE grid of world-class vehicles, drivers and teams is building ahead of the 2017 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour race next February 3-5.

More than 50 entries have already been received by organisers with a boost in interest in the growing GT4 category adding to what is shaping as a remarkable collection of GT3 vehicles that will fight for the outright, Pro-Am and Amateur class victories.

Event organisers can confirm 16 different manufacturers are presently represented on the entry list and more than 30 GT3 cars will battle at the pointy-end of the grid. Entries have been received from Australia, the US, Europe and Asia.

The entry list is subject to change and, with entries closing on December 16 this year, will not be officially unveiled until then.

“The entry list is always reasonably fluid at this stage of the year and will undoubtedly change before the end of the year as people finalise their plans, but we are obviously very pleased with the reaction so far,” Event Director John Casey said.

“The recent announcements from manufacturers and private teams entering the race shows how strong the appeal of this race has become. Manufacturers like Ferrari, Nissan and BMW see it as a great platform to showcase their brand while private teams like Hobson Motorsport know they can compete for outright or a class victory in competitive machinery.

“We are also extremely pleased to see GT4 starting to gain momentum in Australia with six cars already entered in the class. There has been several others talking to us about running so that category should be very strong.

“The mix of machinery is already very exciting and should be even better by the time entries close this December.”

The firepower assembling for Bathurst’s annual around-the-clock enduro points to what could be the best iteration of the race yet.

Four Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s are already locked in, two each from the factory Nissan Motorsport / Nismo outfit and Hobson Motorsport’s privately-entered team.

Maranello Motorsport will return with the Bathurst debut of the Ferrari 488 GT3 and was the first to lodge their entry for the 2017 event, while BMW confirmed recently their participation with two M6 GT3s entered by BMW team SRM.

Meanwhile, a record number of GT4 vehicles have committed to Class C.

GT4 represents a more ‘entry level’ access point to GT racing with a wide array of vehicles eligible for the class including McLaren’s 570 GT4, Porsche’s Cayman GT4 Clubsport and the stunning KTM X-Bow.

Aston Martin, Lotus, Ginetta and Porsche GT4 models have all competed on the Mountain before however 2017 is likely to represent the strongest group of the ‘baby’ GT cars yet assembled in Australia.

Outside of the GT classes, interest in the invitational category also continues to grow.

MARC Cars Australia has entered multiple cars, alongside a diverse mix of additional invited production-based machinery.

The team is building an impressive resume’ when it comes to endurance racing and this year entered five cars, getting all five to the finish and locking out the Invitational class podium in the process.

A full entry list will be provided when entries close on 16 December, with team and driver announcements to come in coming weeks as teams finalise their plans for the race.

The race will once again double as the opening round of the 2017 Intercontinental GT Challenge, which enters its second year in 2017