TWELVE-HOUR FANS should be happy people like Scott Taylor exist.
That’s the word from Craig Baird, who will drive Taylor’s Mercedes AMG GT3 alongside Shane van Gisbergen and a yet-to-be confirmed third driver in the 2017 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
The champion Kiwi, the 2007 12-hour winner, has been instrumental in constructing a deal that will see the STM Mercedes tackle the race with one of the strongest possible driving squads.
And he says the fact that Taylor is keen to step aside from his own car – to allow professional drivers to take over – shows his dedication to winning the race.
“You’ve got a guy who could rock up and drive in an Am (Amatuer) situation but sees an opportunity for a group of people to take the Mountain by storm,” Baird told bathurst12hour.com.au.
“I reckon what this guy can do and what he can put together will be as good as any factory team at the 12 Hour, and that’s why myself and Shane are onboard.
“Scott is doing it because he’s passionate and because he wants results.. he’s got a sore leg, he doesn’t need a headache as well!”
Baird, who arranged for van Gisbergen to drive Taylor’s Porsche Carrera Cup car at the Porsche Rennsport event earlier this year, says securing the current 12-hour champion was a natural choice for the STM Bathurst attack – and that he still had plenty to offer, too.
“Shane has been a mate for a long time. He’s at the top of his game at the moment. Not only is he fast but he’s reliable as well and that’s important.
“He knows GT cars, obviously knows Bathurst and he’s great to deal with in a team situation like this. I organised to put him in with Scott at the ProAm Carrera Cup round and they got on well.
“Personally, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve had good runs there in the past but this is absolutely the strongest package I’ll head to the Mountain with.”
Baird said the flexibility the STM driving squad would offer opened up strategic opportunities for the team come race day.
“In a Pro-Am situation, as I have been at in the past, you’re always focussed on the slowest driver in the car so heading there next year opens a massive strategy is a change for us.
“We could up any of the three drivers starting, or doing a long stint, finishing or elsewhere. There’s no doubt you’d love Shane to be in the car at the end but the reality is any of us could do it.
“The reality is I’m 46 and I know I’m not as quick as when I was 25 or 30 – If you play footy, tennis, golf or drive you’re not quite as sharp as you get older.
“But I can circulate at a race pace that’s within a tenth or two of Shane and that makes the package very strong.
“We have a pretty good idea about who the third driver will be, and it will be someone who will have been there before.
“It’s going to be a strong team.”