This is Hooniverse and we owe a huge debt to Australia for the word that forms the basis of the site’s name. And we love our Australians, especially The DFL Show’s Joel Strickland. Joel shoots awesome photos and will be attending the LiquiMoly Bathurst 12 Hours this weekend, an endurance race that has grown immensely popular for the incredible racing it produces at one of the world’s most amazing circuits. Let’s give a quick rundown on the Bathurst 12 Hours ahead of time and we’ll let you look at some of Joel’s totally badass photos of some of the cars competing in the race for good measure. Be sure to follow Joel on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, too, to see what he’s up to at the race.
What is this race?
The LiquiMoly Bathurst 12 Hours is a standalone race, although it draws a lot of the staff and teams from the Australian GT championship. Its roots come from the waning years of the Australian Touring Car Championship (before V8 Supercars) as a production-car alternative to the ATCC’s big race, the Bathurst 1000. That was a short-lived run in the 1990s, but the race was revived, first with the Bathurst 24 Hours in ‘02 and ‘03 and then with a 12-hour return to production-car racing in 2007.
Mitsubishi Evos and BMW 335s split the first four of the renewed Bathurst 12s, but the allowance of FIA GT3-spec cars in 2010 brought about the race’s modern era. This year, the classes have largely moved “production car” style racing out of the Bathurst 12 Hours with a separate, shorter race in April for those cars. With the proliferation of GT3 racing worldwide, this race has become must-watch for endurance and GT racing fans.
It also forms first of four legs of the Intercontinental GT Challenge with the Spa 24 Hours (July 29-30), Laguna Seca 8 Hours (October 14-15), and Sepang 12 Hours (December 9-10) rounding out the endurance challenge’s 2017.
About the Track
The track at Bathurst is actually a tourist road around Mount Panorama, a small hill (so to speak) across the Great Dividing Range about 2-½ hours from Sydney. The track itself is unlike any other circuit in the world. The 3.86-mile lap begins and ends with long straights, but the middle sector winds up Mount Panorama on track just wide enough for two cars in some places.
GT3 car speeds can be crazy in this section and the highlight comes at Brock’s Skyline—named for Supercars legend Peter Brock—where the cars crest the track’s highest point and drivers can briefly look miles out over the Macquarie River plain toward the Great Dividing Range before diving through the steepest and narrowest descent of just about any racetrack. The following Conrod Straight will push GT3 cars to nearly 180 mph, at which point they’ll take the intimidating bend known as “The Chase” flat-footed. How crazy is it? Above is Shane Van Gisbergen’s record-setting pole lap last year in a McLaren 650S GT3:
The narrow confines of Mount Panorama tend to create close racing. That makes for regular Safety Car periods and while it’s often been the case that half the race is run behind the Safety Car, that has the knock-on effect of keeping lots of cars on the lead lap. In the past, that has consistently produced the best endurance-race endings you’re likely to see. Need evidence of that? The ending of the 2015 race was typically amazing:
Also, make sure you don’t miss the qualifying sessions (times are way down at the bottom of the story, post-rambling) because the pros in the top class will be running some of the most amazing laps in Bathurst history. Oh, and the race starts before dawn, giving both the additional challenge of night racing on the insane circuit and a dramatic sunrise from Brock’s Skyline.
As mentioned above, the classes have been reduced and simplified. The quickest cars are FIA GT3 spec machinery, which are subdivided into three classes for those with all-professional lineups (PRO), those with two professionals (PRO-AM), and those with one or no professionals (AMATEUR). Class B all run Porsche Cup cars and Class C are all FIA GT4 cars. There is one final category, Invitational, which is open to a wider variety of cars.
Here’s a massive rundown of the entry list, but if you just want to know how to find more information on the race and where to watch or listen, scroll down to the bottom of the post. Also, these driver lineups have likely been filled out more in the time since this was written, a bit more than a week before the race.
CLASS A (GT3) PRO
#1 Tekno Autosport (McLaren 650S) – Alvaro Parente, Rob Bell, Come Ledogar
#59 Tekno Autosport (McLaren 650S) – Will Davison, Johnny Kane, Ben Barnicoat
The defending winners set records last year for quickest-ever race lap on the Mountain and greatest race distance. They will run without the ace up their sleeves, Shane Van Gisbergen, who has moved on to drive Mercedes this year. Nevertheless, Parente was part of that team and his co-drivers, Bell and Ledogar, won the 2016 Blancpain Endurance Series title with SVG. The second car includes defending Bathurst 1000 winner Davison, Le Mans class winner Kane, and Barnicoat, a very quick young Formula 3 driver. This will still be a tough pair to beat.
#23 Nissan (Nissan GT-R GT3, above) – Katsumaso Chiyo/Alex Buncombe/Michael Caruso
#24 Nissan (Nissan GT-R GT3) – Florian Strauss/Jann Mardenborough/Todd Kelly
#38 Hobson Racing (Nissan GT-R GT3) – Adrian Flack/Daniel Bilski/Chris Pither
Chiyo has made his name for stunning drives at Bathurst, including his monstrous final stint to win the race in 2015 (video above). Strauss was his co-driver that year and turned in his own solid performance. Supercars drivers Caruso and Kelly have plenty of experience on the mountain (Kelly won the Bathurst 1000 in 2005), also. When we spoke to Mardenborough in 2015, he spoke of his hope to race at Mount Panorama some day. We’re glad to see him there. Hobson Racing also enter a privateer Nissan effort in the top class, one of the former Always Evolving GT-Rs from Pirelli World Challenge in the United States.
#22 Scott Taylor Motorsport (Mercedes Benz AMG GT3) – Maro Engel/Shane Van Gisbergen/Craig Baird
Van Gisbergen’s electric performance was surely the highlight of the 2016 race and one of the best parts of all racing last year. He has been unbelievable on the mountain and the defending Supercars champ will look to get a strong start to his racing season Down Under. Engel won the Nurburgring 24 in a Mercedes and Baird is a former Bathurst 12-hour winner in a BMW before GT3 cars took over the race.
#74 Jamec Pem Racing (Audi R8 LMS) – Garth Tander/Christopher Mies/Christopher Haase
#75 Jamec Pem Racing (Audi R8 LMS) – Marcus Winkelhock/Frank Stippler/Robin Frijns
Audi mean business this year; they have handed the reins to Jamec Pem, but make no mistake: This is a factory driver lineup. Tander is a former Supercar champ and the other five have logged countless hours in Audi R8s. Audi won the first two 12 Hours after GT3 machinery was allowed and Mies drove both of those winning cars. They’ve been shutout since and a win in this deep field would be a huge prize.
#8 Bentley Team M-Sport (Bentley Continental GT3) – Guy Smith/Steven Kane/Oliver Jarvis
#17 Bentley Team M-Sport (Bentley Continental GT3) – Maxime Soulet/Andy Soucek/Vincent Abril
Bentley have been so close to winning at Bathurst and the modern Bentley Boys will tackle the mountain again. The All-English #8 car will be a pleasure to watch, but the #17 drivers have all been spectacular in the Blancpain GT Series. The Continental’s width and straightline speed give some advantage in the limited space between the walls going over the mountain.
#7 BMW Team SRM (BMW M6 GT3) – Tony Longhurst/Mark Skaife/Russell Ingall/Timo Glock
#25 BMW Team SRM (BMW M6 GT3) – Steve Richards/Mark Winterbottom/Marco Wittman
#99 Walkenhorst (BMW M6 GT3) – TBA
Like the other big GT factories, BMW is not skimping on depth here. Skaife is a right legend in supercars, as are Richards, Winterbottom, and Ingall. Our own Joel Strickland talked to Richards and Winterbottom about the Bimmer right here. Add in DTM champion Wittman and DTM driver Glock to complete a “touring-car” assault on the mountain. Longhurst isn’t a super-common name, but he won the 2009 Bathurst 12 Hours in a Mitsubishi Evo.
#88 Maranello Motorsport (Ferrari 488 GT3) – Toni Vilander/Craig Lowndes/Jamie Whincup
Hooooooooly crap. Vilander is a Ferrari factory driver fresh off a strong performance at Daytona and, well, if you don’t know who Lowndes and Whincup are, I’m not sure why you’re interested in this race. Lowndes has won the Bathurst 1000 an incredible SIX times and is a three-time V8 Supercars champion. Whincup is a billion-time Supercars champ and a four-time winner at the Bathurst 1000. Oh, and three of those Bathurst wins featured Lowndes and Whincup paired together.
#911 Walkinshaw GT3 (Porsche 911 GT3 R, shown above) – Laurens Vanthoor/Earl Bamber/Kevin Estre
#991 Craft-Bamboo Racing (Porsche 911 GT3 R)
Porsche sling their factory GT trio into the mix with the three of the best on offer. Somehow, none of these three has won at Bathurst—Neither has Porsche for that matter—but this looks like a good mix to pull that off. Craft-Bamboo are well-known in GT racing across Asia and the Pacific; they will likely assemble a solid lineup and run a clean race.
CLASS A PRO-AM
#11 Objective Racing (McLaren 650S) – Tony Walls/Warren Luff/Tim Slade/Alex Davison
Luff is a Supercars super-codriver in endurance racers and has raced all kinds of GT cars, as has Walls. Slade is on loan from Supercars. Davison, himself a former Carrera Cup Australia champ, will race in a McLaren like his brother Will in the Tekno McLaren.
#12 Competition Motorsports (Porsche 911 GT3 R) – Marc Lieb/Pat Long/David Calvert-Jones
That’s two factory Porsche drivers (Lieb and Long) paired with longtime gentleman racer Calvert-Jones. That would be a solid lineup for a Pro-class car.
#83 HTP Motorsport (Mercedes Benz AMG GT3) – Paul Dalla Lana/Pedro Lamy/Mathias Lauda
It’s curious to see this driver trio in something other than an Aston Martin, which the same drivers have campaigned in the FIA WEC and occasionally in IMSA for a couple years. In fact, they’re fresh off a run at the Rolex 24 in an Aston GT3. They have been one of the best GTE-AM teams in WEC and should perform well.
CLASS A ALL-AM
#2 DJS Racing (Audi R8 LMS) – Daniel Stuttard/James Bergmuller/Samuel FIllmore
#45 Supabarn (Audi R8 LMS) – James Koundouris/Theo Koundouris/Marcus Marshall/Simon Evans
#5 GT Motorsport Pty LTD (Audi R8 LMS) – Greg Taylor/Nathan Antunes/Elliot Barbour
#9 Hallmarc (Audi R8 LMS) – Lee Holdsworth/Marc Cini/Dean Fiore
#3 Team ASR Pty LTD (Audi R8 LMS, above) – Ash Samadi/Daniel Gaunt/Matt Halliday
Audi is well-represented numerically with some very solid lineups. The #5 GT Motorsport car won the Amateur class last year and Antunes will be as quick as anyone in the class. Keep an eye on the #9 Hallmarc car with Supercars driver Holdsworth in the lead.
#29 Trofeo Motorsport (Lamborghini Huracan GT3) – Jim Manolis/Ryan Millier/Ivan Capelli/Dean Canto
#32 Lago Motorsport (Lamborgini R-EX) – Roger Lago/Steve Owen/David Russell (2016 P2)
#47 Kiwi Racing (Lamborghini R-EX) – Glenn Smith/Kevin Bell/Nicholas Chester/John De Veth
The three Lambos share a V10 with the Audis and the field here includes a newer Huracan and a pair of older-spec Gallarado R-EX GT3s. Lago is a staple of Australian GT racing and the 2016 Amateur champion. The names in the Trofeo car should be familiar to Australian GT regulars, also.
#66 Hobson Racing (Nissan GT-R) – Brett Hobson/Fred Poordad/Erik Davis
American drivers Poordad and Davis join car owner Hobson in the second of the former Pirelli World Challenge Nissans. These cars work well at Mount Panorama and should be competitive.
#37 Keltic Racing (McLaren 650S) – Klark Quinn/Tony Quinn/TBA
The father-son team have developed an uncanny knack for success in racing, having won the 2016 championship for non-professional drivers. Regardless of who rounds out the lineup, they should be in the thick of things.
#35 Miedecke Stone Motorsport (Aston Martin V12 Vantage) – George Miedecke/Ash Walsh/Tony Bates
The only Aston GT3 will have an uphill battle to fight. And a downhill one. That’s a bad joke.
#96 MARC Cars Australia (BMW M6 GT3) – Chaz Mostert/Morgan Haber/Max Twigg
We’ll cover the MARC Cars’ own builds soon enough, but the Australian builder will also enter a big turbocharged Bimmer with Ford Supercars star Mostert racing alongside a talented young driver in Haber and a wily veteran in Twigg.
#61 Hogs (Mercedes Benz AMG GT3) – Mark Griffith/David Reynolds/Dominic Storey
Supercars driver David Reynolds often made good out of a not-great car in 2016, but he should be competitive here with a proven endurance-racing platform in the Mercedes.
#912 Walkinshaw GT3 (Porsche 911 GT3 R) – John Martin/Duvashen Padayachee/Liam Talbot
#51 AMAC Motorsport (Porsche 911 GT3 R) – Andrew McPherson/Neale Muston/Tim Miles
You can’t have a race without Porsches these days and you can never count out the 911. Bathurst isn’t necessarily a circuit that favors Porsches, but a clean run can make a world of difference.
CLASS B (GT3 Cup)
If their car holds together, the Grove Motorsport should be very tough to beat. However, endurance racing is inherently unpredictable so this class is really very open with only five entries.
#4 Grove Motorsport (Porsche GT3 Cup, above) – Ben Barker/Alexander Imperatori/Stephen Grove
#6 Wall Racing (Porsche 997 GT3 Cup) – Richard Gartner/Aaron Zerefos/Indiran Padayachee/Ric Shaw
#50 Synep Racing (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup) – Adam Cranston/Josh Cranston/Aaron Steer/James Winslow
#21 Steve Richards Motorsports (Porsche GT3 Cup) – Dean Grant/Dylan Okeeffe/Xavier West
#14 IKAD Racing (Porsche 997 GT3 Cup) – Peter Major/Jordan Love/Nicholas McBride
CLASS C (GT4)
We don’t know a ton about the driver lineups here so we’ll refrain from predicting much. That said, the #18 PROsport car should be a favorite for American fans with three American drivers (Putnam, Espenlaub, and Foster) pairing with a familiar face from American racing in Pilgrim.
#62 R-Motorsport (Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4) – Andreas Benziger/Peter Leemhuis/Jan Struve
#56 RA Motorsports – Ginetta (Ginetta G55 GT4)
#69 RA Motorsports – Ginetta (Ginetta G55 GT4)
#48 M Motorsport (KTM X-Bow GT4, above)
#18 PROsport Performance (Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubman) – Charles Putnam/Charles Espenlaub/Joe Foster/Andy Pilgrim
#19 PROsport Performance (Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubman) –
#40 Brookspeed (Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubman) – Aaron Mason/David Drinkwater/TBA
#41 Brookspeed (Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubman)
We’ll spend a bit of extra time here because this class is full of particularly interesting cars. The performance envelope seems all over the place so it’s weird for the cars to “compete” with each other, but they’re great cars to have in the field nonetheless.
#76 R-Motorsport (Aston Martin Vantage GT8) – Darren Turner/Florian Kamelger/Markus Lungstrass
The somewhat-open nature of this class has allowed entry of a Vantage GT8, an “enhanced” GT3 car. Further, factory driver Turner will take a spin in the car and that should be exciting too watch.
#28 On Track Motorsport (BMW 335i) – Garry Mennell/Bernard Verryt/Steve Vanbellingen
As a nod to the type of cars that once populated this race before GT3 exploded in popularity, On Track will run a production-based BMW in the class. They’re probably outgunned, but BMWs tend to be reliable if nothing else.
#65 Daytona Sportscars (Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, above) – James Augustine/Benjamin Schoots/Dean Lillie
This team’s actual Daytona Sportscar—an LS-powered Daytona replica—burned up at the end of 2016 so they’ve gone to a totally badass backup: a Dodge Viper Competition Coupe. With Viper production ending soon, this should be a sentimental favorite.
#91 MARC Car Australia (Ford Focus V8) – Keith Kassulke/William Brown/Rod Salmon
#92 MARC Car Australia (Ford Focus V8) – Michael Benton/Hadrian Morrall/Aaron Seton
#93 MARC Car Australia (Mazda3 V8) – Jake Camilleri/Jack Smith/Rob Thomson
#94 MARC Car Australia (Mazda3 V8) – Leanne Tander/Nicholas Rowe/Gerard McLeod/Tim Leahey
#95 MARC Car Australia (Ford Focus V8) – Geoffrey Taunton/Jason Andrew Busk/Bryce Ford
MARC Cars have entered five of their V8-powered tubeframe cars. It’s a shame these have never found a real market outside of Australian racing and the Hankook 24H Series. Regardless, they should be in the ballpark of the GT4 cars on pace and they sound magnificent all the while. The driver lineups are interesting and very deep, including a number of Australian champions is various classes and series. These are most likely to win the Invitational class.
Session Times, Local (Eastern Standard Time)
Friday 10:40 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. (Thursday 6:40 p.m. ET) – Non-Class-A cars
11:50 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. (Thursday 7:50 p.m. ET) – All Class A cars
5:45 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. (Friday 1:45 p.m. to 1:45 a.m. ET)
Bathurst 12 Hours Site
International Live Stream
Radio Le Mans with live radio coverage
UPCOMING ENDURANCE RACES
March 17-18: 12 Hours of Sebring
March 17-18: 12 Hours of Mugello
March 31-April 1: 24 Hours of Silverstone