Monday, Jan 8 08:00am
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Scott McLaughlin to make GT3 racing debut at Bathurst 12 Hour

Scott McLaughlin is set to move up the pecking order for the first time in his racing career at this year's Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour. 


The 2017 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship runner-up will drive a YNA Autosport McLaren 650S GT3 at the Southern Hemisphere endurance season opener. 


McLaughlin will lead the Pro-Am entry, which will be supported by McElrea Racing, spearheaded by another Kiwi Andy McElrea. Australian Fraser Ross, a winner in the Australian GT Championship, will partner McLaughlin. Factory McLaren GT driver Andrew Watson and Swedish racer Alexander West complete the line-up.


Not only will it be the first time McLaughlin has driven a GT3 specification car competitively, it'll also be the first time he's raced in the Class A division. 


"I'm really excited for my first attack at the Bathurst 12 Hour in Class A machinery," McLaughlin said.


"We have a great line up to attack the Pro-Am class honours but also attack the outright order.


"I’m looking forward to the challenge and excited to be in a fantastic car like the McLaren with some great teammates. The 12 Hour is a perfect way to start my racing season and hopefully we can kick it off with some success."


The last time McLaughlin raced in the 12 Hour epic was in 2016 with fellow New Zealander Earl Bamber and Stephen Grove in a Porsche 911 997 GT3 Cup car. That year they won Class B, finished 12th overall, and were 15 laps ahead of their nearest class rivals. 

Like McLaughlin, Englishman Andrew Watson drove in the 2016 edition of the Bathurst 12 Hour. That year he drove with Tekno Autosports alongside compatriot Rob Bell and two-time Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 winner Will Davison.


Watson will be a key part of the YNA Autosport operation. Last year he contested the Blancpain GT Series and won his class in the Sepang 12 Hours. 


Watson said he's excited to drive alongside McLaughlin, who he knows has pedigree at the mountain.


"Going back to Bathurst is an amazing chance as we had a lot of speed in the McLaren in 2016, so I know the 650S GT3 is good around the Mountain," Watson said.


"The 12 Hour is such a great race and I’m proud to be a part of it again. I already know Fraser and Alex, and I’m looking forward to teaming up with Scott as I know how handy these V8 drivers are after racing with Shane van Gisbergen in 2016 in Europe."


The 2018 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour takes place on February 2-4, with live free-to-air television coverage on 7mate across Australia, and an online stream allowing fans around the world to follow the race as it unfolds.