UPDATED: The Drivers – who’s where in GT3

Tekno Autosport drive Shane van Gisbergen set the fastest time in qualifying to put his McLaren 650s on pole for the start of tomorrows Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 hour, in Bathurst, Australia, February 06, 2016.

ONE of the busiest periods for driver announcements in the history of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour has rapidly seen the driver roster fill up this week.

A week of big-name driver signings was capped off by the massive news on Thursday that Craig Lowndes, Shane van Gisbergen and Come Ledogar would combine in a YNA Autosport McLaren 650S GT3.

That in itself came a day after Jamie Whincup confirmed he would return to drive a Mercedes AMG GT3 and three works Audi squads were named, featuring a host of international stars that should all be contenders.

The result is an entry list that now showcases a staggering array of the top talent from both Australia and overseas.

The entry list now includes Seven full-time drivers from the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, a list that expands to 14 if you include currently active drivers in the Supercars endurance races.

There are former Bathurst 1000 winners aplenty – Lowndes, Richards, Longhurst, Mostert and Whincup amongst them.

Of those drivers, Lowndes, Whincup and Longhurst have also won the Bathurst 12 Hour outright, as has Shane van Gisbergen, Craig Baird, Christoper Mies and Rod Salmon. Between them they account for 10 12-hour victories.

There are already factory drivers confirmed from Audi, Porsche, McLaren, Bentley, BMW and Mercedes AMG, while the list also includes LeMans winners, DTM champions and winners of a majority of the major international enduros like the Spa and Nurburgring 24 Hour epics.

An updated ‘who’s who’ list appears below covering off each class and each of the class A / GT3 cars entered in the 2018 field assembled so far.

Check back tomorrow for a rundown for who will be battling it out for class glory.

Audi

IT was a big week for Audi with three of their major cars confirmed, including one from the Valvoline Jamec Pem Racing squad and two from International outfit, Audi Sport Team WRT.

Jamec Pem confirmed former winner Chris Mies would be joined by regulars Christopher Haase and Markus Winkelhock in their lead car, making for an exceptionally strong pairing of well-experienced Bathurst regulars.

WRT should have two strong cars, with Robin Frijns, Stuart Leonard and Dreis Vanthoor (brother of former 12-hour polesitter Laurens) adding to the works Audi driver roster. Their second car will be a BRM Chronographes Pro/Am contender with Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda behind the wheel.

The Hallmarc entry of Marc Cini, Lee Holdsworth and Dean Fiore was the first of the locally-entered Audi’s to be confirmed some time ago, and features a strong combination to contend for Pro/Am honors.

A International Motorsport Audi R8 LMS
A Industrie Racing Audi R8 Ultra LMS
A Audi Sport Customer Racing Audi R8 LMS Marc Cini Dean Fiore Lee Holdsworth
A Audi Sport Customer Racing Audi R8 LMS Christoper Mies Christopher Haase Markus Winkelhock
A Audi Sport Customer Racing Audi R8 LMS
A Audi Sport Customer Racing Audi R8 LMS
A Audi Sport Customer Racing Audi R8 LMS
A Audi Sport Customer Racing Audi R8 LMS
A Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS Robin Frijns Stuart Leonard Dreis Vanthoor
A Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS Paul Dalla Lana Pedro Lamy Mathias Lauda

Bentley

BACK for another crack at an elusive Bathurst win, Bentley confirmed much of their existing squad would return in 2018 save for Ollie Jarvis being replaced by young Frenchman, Jules Gounon. That means Guy Smith, Steven Kane, Andy Soucek, Maxime Soulet and Vincent Abril will all be back.

Though they are yet to announce formal combinations, you would be hard pressed to split up the Smith / Kane combination that has finished fourth, third and third in the last three 12-hour encounters on the Mountain so we’ve rolled with that until told otherwise.

A Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 Andy Soucek Vincent Abril Maxime Soulet
A Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 Guy Smith Steven Kane Jules Gounon

BMW

FIREPOWER is the name of the game here, with both the BMW Team SRM entry and the Schnitzer car featuring a mix of local and international, factory talent to give the German brand their best shot at a first Bathurst enduro victory since 1997.

Steven Richards will have Timo Glock and Phillip Eng in his car, while Schnizter has plumbed for Chaz Mostert – already a Bathurst winner over six hours and 1000km – and DTM stars Marco Wittman and Augusto Farfus.

Glock and Wittmann were both part of BMWs attack this year so will be as fast as anybody, while Eng and Farfus won’t take long to get up to speed.

A BMW Team SRM BMW M6 GT3 Steve Richards Timo Glock Phillip Eng
A BMW Team Schnitzer BMW M6 GT3 Chaz Mostert Marco Wittmann Augusto Farfus
A BMW Team SRM BMW M6 GT3

Ferrari

NEW ZEALAND’s Trass Family Motorsport has had a spread of talented drivers in their 458 GT3 in recent New Zealand races but there is yet to be word on who will be coming to Bathurst.

A Trass Family Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia

Lamborghini

SOLID combinations have already been announced for the raging bull, notably the consistent pairing of Steve Owen and David Russell in Roger Lago’s JBS Racing Gallardo R-EX. The Black Beauty may be getting a bit old now but, remember, it wasn’t long ago that this car was qualifying at the pointy-end, let alone strong finishes in the last few years.

Trofeo Motorsport have locked in the same combination as this year too, with Jim Manolios joined by Dean Canto, Ryan Miller and Ivan Capelli.

Richard Gartner is yet to fully confirm who will join him in the bright yellow Safe-T-Stop car, but we keep hearing the name ‘David Wall’ thrown about, which would make it a very feisty combination indeed.

A Lago Racing Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX Roger Lago David Russell Steve Owen
A Safe-T-Stop Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 Richard Gartner
A Trofeo Motorsport Lamborghini Hurracan Jim Manolios Dean Canto Ryan Millier Ivan Capelli

McLaren

OBJECTIVE Racing were quick to confirm that Tony Walls would be joined by Jaxon Evans, Warren Luff and Tim Slade in 2018, instantly asserting themselves as Pro/Am class contenders early in the piece and, should all go to plan on race day, a possible outright threat too.

Meanwhile, YNA Autosport blew open the form guide by locking in Lowndes, van Gisbergen and Come Ledogar for their first car – the combination of the six time 1000km and two-time 12Hour winning Lowndes, plus lap record holder van Gisbergen and factory ace Ledogar instantly rocketing them to outright favoritism in the blink of a McLaren 650s gearchange. Their second squad is yet to be announced.

A Objective Racing Mclaren 650S GT3 Tony Walls Jaxon Evans Warren Luff Tim Slade
A YNA Autosport Mclaren 650S GT3 Craig Lowndes Come Ledogar Shane van Gisbergen
A YNA Autosport Mclaren 650S GT3

Mercedes AMG

SIX AMG GT3s make for plenty of grunt from the German brand – as does the Max Twigg / Tony D’Alberto / Craig Baird combination Scott Taylor Motorsport has announced for their lead car. It’s a good combination, too.

Meanwhile, Jamie Whincup let slip this week in an interview that he would jump ship to AMG in 2018, partnering with ex-pat Aussie racer Kenny Habul and former IndyCar ace Tristian Vautier in the SunEnergy1 AMG, which will be run out of the STM shop in 2018.

It’s a strong combination that will contend for Pro/Am class victory and, like so many others, could also be an outright contender if they find themselves on the lead lap by the final pit stops.

Strakka Racing announced Cameron Waters would lead their first entry announced, a handy signing for his Bathurst miles even if he hasn’t done a heap of GT3 racing. He will be joined by Nick Leventis, Lewis Williamson and David Fumanelli in the lead Strakka car. That trio are experienced GT drivers but it remains a hard combination to predict results for at this early point.

Drivers for the second Strakka, and Ninteen Corp – that’s Mark Griffith’s car – entries are yet to be confirmed.

One additional AMG GT3 was announced on Friday however a team affiliation or entrant was not named, adding an air of mystery to the AMG arsenal..

A Scott Taylor Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT GT3 Max Twigg Tony D’Alberto Craig Baird
A Scott Taylor Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT GT3 Kenny Habul Tristian Vautier Jamie Whincup
A Nineteen Corp P/L Mercedes AMG GT GT3
A Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing Mercedes AMG GT GT3 Cameron Waters Nick Leventis Lewis Williamson David Fumanelli
A Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing Mercedes AMG GT GT3
A To be announced Mercedes AMG GT GT3

Porsche

IT is amazing to consider that Porsche have never won any of the Bathurst ‘majors’ – however 2018 could be their year.

Manthey Racing will come with Dirk Werner, Romain Dumas and Fred Makowiecki aboard their entry and you suspect that is a combination they would have quite happily thrown in one of their 919 Hybrids at LeMans this year should they have had enough cars.

Black Swan Racing will make their debut and could be contenders based on the driver roster the announced several months ago. Tim Pappas has endurance experience aplenty, as does Jeroen Bleekemolen – who adds Bathurst miles to that mix. Black Swan announced David Calvert-Jones would be involved in their team though given his own outfit – Competition Motorsports – will be back in 2018 we don’t know if he’ll drive for his own team or not. Watch this space for both that, and who else is in the Competition Car which was a podium finisher this year.

A Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R Dirk Werner Romain Dumas Fred Makowiecki
A Competition Motorsports Porsche 991 GT3 R
A Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R Tim Pappas Jeroen Bleekemolen David Calvert-Jones

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