The 2020 edition of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour promises to be one of the best with a record high entry list featuring some of the world’s best.
Of the nearly 40 cars competing in the race, six cars will feature Kiwi drivers. The majority are outright contenders too.
Here are the Kiwi drivers contesting this year’s once around the clock race.
|What||Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour|
|When||SUN 7:45 AM (NZST)|
Earl Bamber/Laurens Vanthoor/Craig Lowndes
Team: Earl Bamber Motorsport
Car: Porsche 911 GT3 R
Earl Bamber Motorsport (EBM) come into the 2020 race as defending champions, however, they return with a new line-up.
Matt Campbell, Dennis Olsen and Dirk Werner have dispersed this year. Campbell and Werner join China-based team Absolute Racing in separate cars while Olsen is omitted from the race.
Leading the EBM charge is team owner Earl Bamber who is joined by fellow IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship title winner Laurens Vanthoor. With them comes Supercars legend and Bathurst prince Craig Lowndes.
The second-generation Porsche 911 GT3 R makes its debut at Mount Panorama and after its maiden success in 2019, the 2020 race promises plenty for the team.
Count on EBM to be in with a strong chance of winning the race.
Scott Dixon/Rick Kelly/Jake Dennis
Car: Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3
There’s an element of uncertainty for R-Motorsport in 2020. Last year’s debut race saw the team seal pole position with Jake Dennis, Marvin Kirchhöfer and Matthieu Vaxiviere.
The team returns in 2020 with a new line-up that features five-time IndyCar Series champion, Scott Dixon. It’ll be the first time he’s raced in a GT3 race car and at the 12-hour.
Former Supercars champion Rick Kelly makes his return to The Mountain. It’s the first time he’s raced in the 12-hour epic since 2016 when he finished second overall with Katsumasa Chiyo and Florian Strauss for the factory-backed Nissan team.
Dennis is the sole returnee for R-Motorsport. He burst onto the scene last year with his super-quick pole position effort. Unfortunately, they finished shy of the win after a storming effort from Matt Campbell for Earl Bamber Motorsport.
Despite his inexperience, Dixon will no doubt get up to speed. Kelly comes into the race without any recent GT3 running, but Dennis is the experienced ace.
Expect them to be contenders.
Shane van Gisbergen/Jamie Whincup/Maximilian Götz
Team: Triple Eight Race Engineering
Car: Mercedes-AMG GT3
Perhaps the strongest line-up in this year’s race is that of Shane van Gisbergen, Jamie Whincup and Maximilian Götz.
The two Red Bull Holden Racing Team regulars are a known quantity. Both van Gisbergen and Whincup have wins at Mount Panorama in the Bathurst 12 Hour for McLaren and Ferrari respectively.
This year marks the second year running that van Gisbergen and Whincup have been paired up in a Triple Eight Race Engineering run Mercedes-AMG GT3. With Craig Lowndes, the team was quick last year but ultimately finished fourth overall.
Maximilian Götz or ‘Maxi’ comes to The Mountain looking for his first win. Last year he claimed third overall with Maximilian Buhk and Raffaele Marciello in the leading factory-backed GruppeM entry.
Götz will no doubt be on the pace with van Gisbergen and Whincup.
Tom Blomqvist/Ben Barnicoat/Álvaro Parente
Team: 59Racing/EMA Racing
Car: McLaren 720S GT3
Of the many cars debuting at the Bathurst 12 Hour this year, the greatest unknown is the McLaren 720S GT3.
It’ll be the first time the 720S has raced at Mount Panorama, replacing the 650S, which has one win with Álvaro Parente, Shane van Gisbergen and Jonathon Webb.
59Racing will field two McLaren 720S GT3 racers, led by Tom Blomqvist, Ben Barnicoat and Parente. They’ll run in the A-Pro field, putting them in contention for the win.
Blomqvist has endurance racing pedigree having won the 24 Hours of Spa with BMW. Barnicoat has plenty of single-seater and GT3 experience but lacks a major endurance racing title like the 12-hour.
A Formula 3 and Formula Renault 3.5 champion, Parente has a Bathurst 12 Hour crown already. His talent is well documented and known.
Jaxon Evans/Romain Dumas/David Calvert-Jones
Team: NED Racing Team
Car: Porsche 911 GT3 R
Jaxon Evans returns to the Bathurst 12 Hour with a real chance of winning the Pro/Am division for Porsche.
Evans comes to the race with experienced ace Romain Dumas – a two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner – and helicopter film pilot David Calvert-Jones.
Now 23 years old, Evans has just one Bathurst 12 Hour start to his name though he didn’t finish.
Six cars have entered the Pro/Am field. Of them, the Garage59 quartet of Alexander West, Chris Goodwin, Come Ledogar and Maxime Martin will be strong in their Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
The Kenny Habul, Dominik Baumann, Martin Konrad and David Reynolds driven Mercedes-AMG GT3 by SunEnergy1 Racing will also be strong.
Keep an eye on Evans though who should have their car inside the top 10 by the end of the race all going to plan.
Dominic Storey/Fraser Ross/Martin Kodric
Car: McLaren 720S GT3
Dominic Storey makes his return racing this weekend. After a year out of the saddle, Storey is set to compete for 59Racing.
He’ll share a McLaren 720S GT3 with local man Fraser Ross and Martin Kodric of Croatia.
Storey returns to the GT3 scene after two years away. In 2018 he raced in the Dunlop Super2 Series without much success, but before that found fortune in the Australian GT Championship.
It’ll be the first time Storey has raced a McLaren at Mount Panorama, though they’ll face stiff opposition from some strong line-ups.
Wall Racing will field amateur drivers Adrian Deitz and Julian Westwood alongside experienced heads Tony D’Alberto and Cameron McConville in a Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
The Tony Bates, Geoff Emery, Max Twigg and Dylan O’Keeffe-driven Audi R8 LMS GT3 will be one to watch too.
This year’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour gets underway at 7:45 am NZST (5:45 am local time).