Wednesday, Dec 6 11:29am
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Craig Baird joins Highlands 501 winners for 2018 Bathurst 12 Hour

Craig Baird is set to join 2017 Highlands 501 winners Tony D'Alberto and Max Twigg in a Scott Taylor Motorsport prepared Mercedes-AMG GT3 in next year's Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.


It will be an all new line-up for the STM outfit, who ran Baird alongside fellow Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen and German Maro Engel in this year's race. They'll drive a WM Waste Management-backed Mercedes, the same one that took victory at Highlands.


Baird spent this year's CAMS Australian Endurance Championship on the sidelines after his teammate Scott Taylor suffered numerous big crashes. A shunt on the streets of Townsville during the Australian GT Series was followed up by an even bigger hit at Sydney Motorsport Park where he managed to bend the carbon fibre steering wheel.


Baird was on hand for the last two rounds of the Endurance Championship for the New Zealand leg. With experience alongside Taylor, D'Alberto and Twigg, Baird said he's comfortable shifting to a new driver combination.


“It’s easy to jump into a team with a group of people that you know and trust,” Baird said.


“Max has been a mate for a long time and I’ve had a long involvement with STM. It’s a great group of people. I know the combination of TD and Max inside-out so I think we’ll be in good shape.


“The event is growing every year and it’s going to be competitive regardless if you’re in an all-pro car or a Pro/Am entry.”


2018 will see the return of D'Alberto who missed this year's race. Last time he competed was with marnello Motorsport and their Ferrar 458 GT3 where they unfortunately retired on lap-63.


This year he teamed up with Fabian Coulthard and scored his first Bathurst podium in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.


“I’m really happy continue relationship with Max because I felt as a pairing got stronger as enduros went on,” he said.


“I enjoy working with him and team, so it was a no-brainer keep it going. Bairdo is an amazing driver but the experience he brings to the team is significant. Working with him this year helped me along."


“I love the Merc; It’s one of he most stable cars I’ve driven. It’s really nice on tyres over a stint and I came to grips with the car over few rounds this year. I’m happy to be driving it in an enduro like the 12-Hour.


“This year it was a great result in the 1000 in the very tricky conditions and the 12-Hour is no different – the race could throw anything at us.


“If we keep our head and keep circulating we should have the pace to do it, and if the cards fall our way we could have another great day.”


The 2018 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour will be held on 2-4 February.