MARK SKAIFE, Russell Ingall, and Tony Longhurst will share a BMW Team SRM M6 GT3 at next year’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, bringing 10 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 wins together in one entry for one of the world’s fastest growing endurance events.
And that victory count is reserved for the driving line-up alone, BMW Team SRM boss Steve Richards bringing another four Bathurst 1000 victories of his own to the operation.
Supported by Castrol and Vodafone, the brand-new BMW M6 GT3 will complete the two-car effort for BMW Team SRM, signalling a determined return to Mount Panorama for the brand.
The entry will unite a wealth of Bathurst experience and success at the February 3-5 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
“This driver line-up is a sign of exactly how serious BMW is taking its return to Mount Panorama,” said BMW Australia CEO Marc Werner.
“We are incredibly excited to be teaming up with some genuine Bathurst legends for the Bathurst 12 Hour, a race that is fast becoming not only one of the most prestigious in the country, but a must-win for teams and manufacturers around the world.
“Between the two BMW Team SRM entries there is a remarkable amount of Bathurst experience and history. Names like Richards and Longhurst have a great affiliation with BMW, not just at Bathurst, but in Australian motor racing in general. And to see former winners like Skaife and Longhurst driving together again, and bitter rivals like Skaife and Ingall joining forces, this really is fascinating story.
“We can’t wait to get BMW back to Bathurst next February.”
Skaife is a six-time winner of The Great Race. One of those wins came alongside Longhurst (2001), while three others were shared with Jim Richards, father of BMW Team SRM boss and lead driver Steve Richards.
Longhurst is a two-time Bathurst 1000 winner himself, having already won in 1988 before adding the second win alongside Skaife in 2001 and winning his class driving a BMW M3 alongside Richards Snr back in 1987. He is also a former winner of the Bathurst 12 Hour, having won the race in 2009.
Longhurst is no stranger to the BMW Motorsport family, having raced BMWs in the Australian Touring Car Championship between 1984 and 1987, and then again between 1991 and 1994. He also won the 1994 Australian Super Touring Championship in a BMW 318i.
Ingall is also a two-time Bathurst winner, ‘The Enforcer’ having conquered Mount Panorama twice alongside the great Larry Perkins (1995 and 1997).
He is just as famous, however, for his fiery clash with Skaife at Eastern Creek in 2003.
During the final round of that year’s V8 Supercars Championship, the pair had an on-track altercation that resulted in Skaife hitting the wall. The drama continued after Skaife extracted himself from his wrecked car, erupting trackside when Ingall came back past a lap later. Ingall further fuelled the fire by swerving towards an enraged Skaife.
Testing has already began for the Bathurst Legends BMW M6 GT3, with a comprehensive preparation program to continue between now and the 2017 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, while the combination for SRM team BWMs second entry is yet to be announced.
Skaife, Longhurst and Ingall will join fellow Bathurst 1000 champions Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup on the Bathurst grid next February, the Triple Eight racing duo accounting for a further 10 victories between them.
Stay tuned to www.bathurst12hour.com.au for more reaction to the BMW driver announcement.