THE Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour field has firmed as teams and drivers lock in their final squads ahead of Australia’s International Enduro.
Erebus Motorsport Virgin Australia Supercars Championship driver Anton de Pasquale is a late addition to the grid, joining double 12-Hour class winner Keith Kassulke, Bathurst 1000 winner Paul Morris and IndyCar champion Paul Tracy aboard the No. 91 MARC Cars Australia entry.
De Pasquale, who raced for Morris’ team in the Dunlop Super2 Series, will make his 12-Hour debut this weekend.
The 23-year-old impressed in his rookie Supercars season, starring in the top-10 shootout for last October’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 where he qualified third.
“It’s quite cool to line up with Paul Morris. He’s been my mentor and guided my career to where I am now after coming back to Australia, so doing a race together will be quite special for both of us,” he said.
“Paul Tracy is a big name and even though I’ve not met him yet, he seems like a bit of a cool dude too. It will also be good for Keith and hopefully we can bounce of each other, get the most out of the car and it can get him a three-peat.
“I’ve got lots to learn and there’s a lot of experience in the car so it’s going to be good.
“My first endurance race ever was the Sandown 500 last year, so the 12-Hour is good coming into the Supercars season.”
MARC Cars Australia boss Ryan McLeod said that adding a fourth driver strengthened their hopes for a third-straight class win.
“Having different options with the driver time was important – we wanted that flexibility for strategy. To have the opportunity to put a high achieving Supercars rookie in the car was a good one.
“Paul Tracy will need a bit of an induction into the circuit in the car so it’s case of putting our best people in the best places. Anton is a good man to have.
“Keith Kassulke has won the last two years and it’s all about going for a three-peat. This will strengthen those chances.”
As well as racing for the MARC Cars squad, Morris will also race on the event under card as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for Formula Ford.
De Pasquale, who won the 2013 Australian Formula Ford Championship, will serve as Morris’ engineer on his return to open-wheel racing this weekend.
Meanwhile, a late change of plans will see Dominik Baumann replace Tristan Vautier in the Scott Taylor Motorsport / SunEnergy1 racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 this weekend.
The 26-year-old Gold-ranked Mercedes-AMG driver won the 2016 Blancpain GT series and is also a double FIA GT3 European Championship winner.
In 2018 he raced in the United States, racing a GT3-specification Lexus to 5th in the GTD class of the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car series.
The Austrian ace is also no stranger to Australian shores: while this weekend will mark his debut at Mount Panorama, Baumann raced with Mark Griffith’s team at Sydney Motorsport Park two years ago, in an Australian GT Championship 501-km enduro.
Finally, Ginetta Australia has settled at a single entry this weekend in the GT4 category.
Their G55 entry will be driven by Bathurst driver Brad Schumacher, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge round winner Jimmy Vernon and former Supercars racer, Karl Reindler.
The field will stand at 40-cars for first practice on Friday morning.