THE unofficial test session for the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour will see more than a dozen 12-hour competitors take to Mount Panorama, Bathurst, this weekend.
Several leading GT3, GT4 and Invited class runners will utilise the Sprint section of the annual Challenge Bathurst event to gain valuable laps of Mount Panorama across a series of against-the-clock sessions held today and tomorrow.
Regularity based competition then takes over on Saturday and Sunday, with more than 450 cars entered across the four days of running.
In just its second year, the annual Challenge Bathurst event has become a staple for several major teams looking to prepare for events at Mount Panorama, such is the scarcity of available track time on the fabled 6.213km circuit.
Amongst the 12-hour runners, MARC Cars Australia will run three factory cars ahead of their anticipated multi-car entry next year.
The Queensland-based team is still finalising details ahead of the race but are expected to field upwards of six cars next February.
MARC Cars are the reigning Class I champions of the Event, also taking outright fastest lap last year with Chas Mostert and Morgan Haber in the MARC GT BMW M6 GT3
The team will field three cars this week, with Keith Kassulke, Tony Alford and Tony’s son Kyle making his MARC Cars Bathurst debut in the team 94 MARC Mazda 3 variant.
Joining Keith Kassulke will be 16 Year old Tyler Everingham, who will make his Bathurst 12 hour debut with the MARC team in Feburary
The team competes at Bathurst hot on the heels of 1-2-3 podium lock out in Texas last weekend in the Hankook 24h series COTA USA event .
Richard Gartner will test his Safe-T-Stop Lamborghini Gallardo, before packing up and shifting to Wakefield Park for the final round of the Australian GT Trophy Series this weekend.
Queenslander Tony Walls will test his Objective Racing McLaren 650S GT3, fresh from confirming a strong driving squad for the 12-Hour next year that includes Warren Luff, Jaxon Evans and Tim Slade.
Sydney-based racer Paul Tresidder will also gain some Bathurst miles this week ahead of his 12-hour campaign with a combined Porsche Carrera Cup Asia squad next February.
Garry Menell and Kean Booker will drive their Porsche 911 GT3, the On track Motorsport outfit that prepares the car one of the most experienced in 12-hour history, having recorded starts in the race each year since 2007.
Of those yet to confirm their 12-Hour participation officially but considered likely entrants, Brett Hobson’s Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 is likely to be one of the most high-profile cars on the Mountain this week.
The team’s return to Bathurst came after a challenging 12-hour debut in February this year that saw one of their cars written-off in a heavy crash at the top of the Mountain during the race.
Miedecke Stone Motorsport have voiced their intent to return to the 12-Hour with their Aston Martin products next year.
The team starred by making the Pirelli Shootout this year, and will this week field their GT4 example of the Vantage V8. A second Vantage GT4 for Jeremy Gray is also entered this week.
Audi will also be well represented with a host of state-level competitors joined by 12-hour runners James and Theo Koundouris and Sydneysider Nick Kelly’s similar R8.
The Sprint Sessions will run across today and Friday at Mount Panorama, with live timing available via the Challenge Bathurst website – or this link.
A majority of the 12-hour runners are nominated in the ‘C’ and ‘D’ groups of the Sprint Competitors.