DOUBLE Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour winner Paul Morris is back for another crack at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour – and he’s bringing a friend along for the ride.
Morris will team with Prodrive Racing Australia Supercars ace Chaz Mostert and regular driver Morgan Haber in MARC Car Australia’s BMW M6 GT3 at next year’s race, adding another pair of reunited Bathurst winners to the grid and also confirming the Queensland-based team’s expansion into the outright category for the first time.
Morris and Mostert won the remarkable 2014 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 driving a Ford Falcon via a remarkable last-lap victory over Jamie Whincup’s Red Bull Holden.
MARC Cars has had enormous success on the Mountain in class competition in the past, both with their endurance-spec Holden Astra and lately the MARC Cars racers that have dominated the invitational class.
While the team has already confirmed that a fleet of at least five of their custom-built enduro cars will be in the race, 2017 will mark the first time they will have had a crack at the outright victory.
The trio will test the car this week at Challenge Bathurst’s sprint event this week before taking in BMW’s private test day on Monday alongside the sole BMW Team SRM factory car entered – the other still under repairs following a crash in New Zealand last week.
“We have a car capable of winning and what we’ve tried to do is pull together a driving combination that we think we can win with,” McLeod told news website Speedcafe.com.
“It’s a bit of youth and experience in Morgan and Paul, and Chaz is probably one of the top four racing drivers in the country at the moment that can do the job at the end.
“The next couple of days will be good preparation for us and we have the factory BMW guys here to lean on for a bit of support.”
While Morris is something of an 12-hour expert, Mostert has only limited experience on the Mountain in races more than 1000km.
The 2014 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 winner is yet to tackle the track in a GT3 vehicle, however he has had experience racing against them.
Mostert, the 2010 Australian Formula Ford Champion, started the 2011 Bathurst 12 Hour racing MARC Cars’ Holden Astra VXR with Gerard McLeod and Ash Walsh – competing against the fastest GT3 cars that were allowed into the race for the first time that year. They finished 16th.
Morris won the 12-hour for the first time in 2007, driving a BMW 335i with Garry Holt and Craig Baird and again in 2010 with Holt and John Bowe.
The incredible come-from-behind victory in the 2014 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 he shared with Mostert was his first in the October classic after years of trying.
North Queensland driver Haber can also claim a Bathurst victory: he won the Invitational class on his 12-hour debut this year driving for the MARC team.
Teamed with Jake Camilleri and third-generation star Aaron Seton, Haber finished 13th outright in the Mazda-bodied MARC racer, leading home a sweep of the top three positions for the team in the Invitational battle.
The addition of Morris and Mostert to the 12-Hour driver roster adds to the number of former Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 and Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour winners already confirmed on the 2017 grid.
As well as BMW’s remarkable list of local heroes – Steven Richards, Mark Winterbottom, Mark Skaife, Russell Ingall and Tony Longhurst – Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup were earlier this year confirmed to steer the Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3.
it was also confirmed yesterday 12-hour winners Craig Baird and Shane van Gisbergen will partner in the Scott Taylor Motorsport Mercedes Benz AMG.
PHOTO: Marc Cars Australia Facebook Page