Star-Studded Teams To Contest The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour Race In The Mighty Mercedes-AMG GT3
Mercedes-AMG GT3 race cars in a star-studded, five-pronged attack on the 2018 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour Race, to be contested at Mount Panorama from February 2-4.
Included in the five-car driver line-up are winners of the Spa 24-Hour Race, the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, the Formula 3 European Championship, multiple winners of the Bathurst 1000 touring car race, and winners from the past two editions of the Bathurst 12-Hour Race.
In addition, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 that was recently piloted to victory in the Australian GT Endurance Championship by Peter Hackett and Dominic Storey makes a return to racing, this time in the hands of Team SunEnergy1 Racing who will run with the support of Scott Taylor Motorsport.
In arguably the most accomplished field ever assembled for the Bathurst 12-Hour Race, two Mercedes-AMG GT3 squads will contest the elite Pro class, for teams consisting solely of professional racers.
UK-based Team Strakka Racing boasts a line-up of international sports car stars featuring AMG factory drivers Maximilian Buhk – the youngest-ever Spa 24-Hour Race winner and youngest FIA GT3 champion – and Maximilian Götz, plus Alvaro Parente, a member of the winning team in this race in 2016.
The Team SunEnergy1 Racing team is also loaded with experience, from last year’s Bathurst 12-Hour Race winner and seven-time Supercars champion Jamie Whincup to European-based GT racers Tristan Vautier and Raffaele Marciello. Team owner and fourth driver Kenny Habul races sports cars in the US and finished third in the 12 Hours of Sebring race in a Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Whincup, a member of the winning Bathurst 12-Hour team in 2017 in his first outing in GT racing, and Hackett were the special guests at an AMG customer event last week at the Mercedes me store in Melbourne.
Preparing for just his second-ever GT race, four-time Bathurst 1000 champion Whincup reflected on the arduous nature of 12-hour racing.
“That was beginner’s luck,” he laughed, when asked about last year’s race. “The biggest challenge is the mental side of things. If you’re not in the car, you’re trying to work out how to go quicker or work out what the race is doing. To have the brain on for 12 hours without stopping is pretty draining.
“But to take such an awesome car to one of the best tracks in the world and put some new tyres on it and see how fast you can go, I’ve got one of the better jobs, without a doubt.”
Whincup had his first experience behind the wheel of a Mercedes-AMG GT3 recently in a test session at Queensland Raceway and was left impressed.
“The AMG has great balance, and the rear is the real strength of the car. Going fast is all about how quickly you can get out of a corner, using the rear grip to get down the straight as fast as you can,” he said.
“If you can carry 1km/h out of Forrest Elbow, you’ve got a massive run down Conrod Straight and you’ll carry that 1km/h all the way down the straight, which on lap time is quite a bit of time.”
Three entries will contest not only for outright victory, but also bragging rights as the best Pro-Am team – mixing professional and ‘gentleman’ drivers – in the field.
Craig Baird, Tony D’Alberto and Max Twigg bring decades of experience to the Scott Taylor Motorsport-run Mercedes-AMG GT3, while the Nineteen Corp GT3 features a trio of young chargers in reigning Bathurst 1000 champion David Reynolds, John Martin and Liam Talbot alongside veteran team owner Mark Griffith.
Team Strakka Racing’s second entry will be one to watch, combining the international experience of Brits Nick Leventis and Lewis Williamson and Italian David Fumanelli with a rising star of Australian Supercars, Cameron Waters.
For this year’s race weekend, five time DTM champion, Bathurst 12 hour winner, AMG brand ambassador and fan favourite Bernd Schneider won’t be racing but his experience around the mountain will be a valuable resource to the teams.
Practice sessions kick off at Mount Panorama for the 2018 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour Race on Friday, February 2, while the race begins at 5.45am on Sunday, February 4 and will be broadcast throughout the day by the Seven Network.
Race fans who aren’t able to make it to Mount Panorama for the race are invited to head to the Mercedes me store in Melbourne to watch the race amongst other motorsport fans. The Mercedes me store will be open for the duration of Sunday’s race.
The five Mercedes-AMG GT3 race cars are as follows:
Car #56: Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing – Mercedes-AMG GT3: Maximillian Buhk (Germany), Maximillian Götz (Germany), Alvaro Parente (Portugal)
Car #75: Mercedes-AMG Team SunEnergy1 Racing – Mercedes-AMG GT3: Kenny Habul, Tristan Vautier (France), Jamie Whincup, Raffaele Marciello (Italy)
Car #8: Scott Taylor Motorsport – Mercedes-AMG GT3: Max Twigg, Craig Baird (NZ), Tony D’Alberto
Car #19: Nineteen Corp P/L – Mercedes-AMG GT3: David Reynolds, John Martin, Liam Talbot, Mark Griffith
Car #55: Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing – Mercedes-AMG GT3: Nick Leventis (UK), Lewis Williamson (UK), Cameron Waters, David Fumanelli (Italy)