A BRAND-NEW Ferrari 488 GT3 car entered by a Bathurst winning team is the first to appear on the entry list for the 2017 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
Maranello Motorsport has been the first to submit their entry paperwork for the February 3-5 event next year, confirming their Bathurst debut of the 488 GT3 – Ferrari’s latest GT contender.
The team has also announced factory Ferrari GT pilot Toni Vilander will return to the squad, as will major sponsor McDonald’s.
Now powered by a twin-turbo V8, Maranello’s 488 GT3 replaces the 458 GT3 which remains one of the most successful cars ever to tackle the around-the-clock enduro.
In the hands of Craig Lowndes, John Bowe, Mika Salo and Peter Edwards, Maranello Motorsport won the 2014 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour while the 458 GT3 also featured on the podium in 2012 and 2013 thanks to Asian team, Clearwater racing.
Despite being taken out of contention race early in the running of this year’s race, the Melbourne-based team expects Ferrari’s latest and greatest GT weapon will be a contender next February.
“We think the 488 will be a beast on the Mountain and we can’t wait to come back and challenge for another win,” Maranello Motorsport team owner Mark Coffey said.
“The car has proven already to be extremely fast and by the time we get to Bathurst next February we’re confident it will be a contender.
“We’re pleased to welcome McDonald’s back and also confirm Toni will be back to form part of our driving squad. He is an incredible talent and comes with the support of the factory in Italy so he is a valuable addition to our team.
“We have been proud to be part of the growth of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour and it’s great to be the first to put our entry from in and commit our first car to the 2017 race.”
Ferrari Australasia CEO Herbert Appleroth was equally enthusiastic about Maranello’s early commitment to a 12-hour campaign.
“We are thrilled that Maranello Motorsport will be bringing a leading international driver line-up to the 2017 Bathurst 12 Hour in the quest of bringing victory back to Ferrari in our 70th Anniversary Year.”
Mark Coffey was also quick to throw his support behind the newly-announced Pro/Am Cup, inaugurated for the first time in 2017.
The newly commissioned prize was recently announced alongside the addition of an all-pro division within the GT3 class.
“Having Pro, Pro/Am and Amateur classes makes perfect sense and it’s the formula that works all around the world,” he said.
“It works at Spa and in the Blancpain GT series and brings Bathurst in to line with the rest of the world. At the same time it gives those in the Pro/Am and ‘Am’ classes a really great prize to shoot for.
“Maranello has traditionally fielded a mixture of professional and Pro/Am combinations and we’re looking towards having cars in both divisions of the GT3 class next February.”
The 2017 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour will be held on February 3-5, 2017.