World class grid heading to Bathurst

ONE of the most broadly accomplished collections of racing talent from around the world ever to be assembled at Mount Panorama will contest the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour next week.

A cross section of champion drivers from Australia and New Zealand will be joined by World Champions, ex-Formula 1 drivers, GT world title winners and some of the best young rising stars in a fiercely competitive field that will produce a spectacular race.

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17 different nationalities are represented amongst the more than 175 drivers who are set to tackle the race.

The Bathurst enduro doubles as the opening round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, a four-round series that also includes the Spa 24 Hour, Suzuka 10 Hour and California 8 Hour enduros.

A host of major global brands compete to win the prestigious title, taken out by Audi last year. 12 manufacturers will be represented on the grid this year.

Factory supported or assisted teams from Bentley, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-AMG, McLaren, Porsche, KTM, Ginetta and Lamborghini will compete for outright or class victory at Bathurst, as will the Aussie designed and built MARC Cars Australia entries.

International teams include current World Rally Champions M-Sport, Audi Sport team WRT and the iconic BMW Schnitzer outfit.

A host of privateer runners in each class will uphold the Bathurst tradition of smaller teams punching above their weights to achieve a result.

The field includes current Supercars champion Jamie Whincup and runner-up Scott McLaughlin, defending Bathurst 1000 winners David Reynolds and Luke Youlden and defending Bathurst 12 Hour winners, Whincup and Craig Lowndes.

More than one-third of the current full-time Supercars Championship field will be represented with 401 Australian Touring Car Championship / Supercars Championship victories counted amongst the grid.

Nine Bathurst 12 Hour winners are entered in the race which is now regarded by brands and drivers as one of the four major endurance races primarily for GT cars in the world.

The current World Endurance Champion, Earl Bamber, will feature and lead the international brigade. The young Kiwi also teamed with his co-World champions Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley to win the 2017 LeMans 24 Hour classic.

2017 winners of the Spa 24 Hour (Jules Gounon, Christopher Haase and Markus Winkelhock) are all on the grid, as are three of the four drivers who won the Nurburgring 24 Hour last year; Winkelhock joined by Christopher Mies and Kelvin van der Linde on that occasion.

Drivers with a combined 220 Formula 1 Grands Prix starts are also represented.

Champion drivers from all levels of Australian motor sport are represented, including forthcoming 2018 Australian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee, John Bowe.

Young rising stars like international Aussie Matt Campbell, Will Brown and third-generation drivers Aaron Seton and Matt Brabham also feature.

The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour commences at 5:45am on Sunday 4 February, with the entire race to be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout the day.

Saturday’s Pirelli top-10 Shootout will also be shown live on 7mate.

Tickets are available at the gate and represent great value at just $46, including access to the pit / paddock area.

A limited number of grandstand seats also remain on sale.