Potential 12-Hour contenders to grab valuable Bathurst miles

SEVERAL top GT3 competitors will gain valuable Bathurst laps – some in advance of a Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 hour campaign – at the annual Challenge Bathurst sprint event held in Bathurst next week. 

A dedicated group for Pirelli GT3 competitors was included in the Challenge Bathurst SuperSprint event this year with 17 cars and 21 drivers nominated in an entry list published today.

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Several additional cars are spread across the remaining Sprint groups, which will take to the track across the Thursday and Friday of the event weekend.

Key among the GT3 competitors are a pair of Valvoline Audi Sport Customer Racing Australia entries and the Mercedes AMG GT3 entered by Triple Eight Race Engineering that finished fourth in the 12-hour this year.

The Audi squad has confirmed double 12-Hour winner Christopher Mies and Garth Tander will steer their pair of R8 LMS entries, a year after Mies became the outright Bathurst lap record holder thanks to his 1m59.2910s effort at Challenge Bathurst last year.

Though official lap records can no longer be set at the event due to a change in CAMS regulations, a shootout for the ‘unofficial’ fastest ever Bathurst lap is expected to remain on the cards next week.

A contender for that accolade could be Shane van Gisbergen, who will drive Triple Eight’s Mercedes AMG GT3.

Though blighted by a challenging build-up with technical issues throughout practice and qualifying, van Gisbergen, Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup hustled the Vodafone-supported Mercedes to fourth in the 2019 race in a stunning drive through the field.

Yassier Shahin, who races in Porsche Carrera Cup, will share the Mercedes AMG GT3 Shahin raced under the Erebus Motorsport banner with David Reynolds and Luke Youlden this year.

Dean Grant and Bathurst legend Steven Richards will share Grant’s BMW M6GT3, Canberra brothers James & Theo Koundouris their Audi R8 LMS while Tony Quinn will run his Aston Martin Vantage GT3 at Bathurst for the first time. Other notables include Nick Kelly and Barton Mawer sharing Kelly’s Audi R8 and Mark Griffith in his AMG GT3. Adrian Dietz and Cam McConville will split an Audi R8 LMS.

59 Racing will give the McLaren 720S GT3 its Bathurst debut while Trofeo Motorsport will field both their Hurcan GT3 and SuperTrofeo entries, though each are yet to confirm drivers. Brett Hobson will return his Nissan GT3 NISMO GTR to the Mountain as well.

Outside of the dedicated GT3 group, Tony Walls will field his McLaren 650S GT3, Adam Hargraves his MARC II racer and Geoff Taunton his first-gen MARC Cars entry.

Challenge Bathurst will be held across the November 28 – December 1 weekend, with the GT cars on track across the first two days of the program.