McLaren has confirmed it will back Australian outfit 59Racing in this year’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
The team will field two McLaren 720S GT3 race cars across the Pro and Silver classes.
Named after the 1995-winning 24 Hours of Le Mans team Kokusai Kaihatsu Racing, which used the no. 59, the race will mark their debut in the race.
A line-up for the leading Pro entry has been confirmed with factory-backed McLaren driver Álvaro Parente set to race alongside Ben Barnicoat and Tom Blomqvist.
Parente is a previous winner of the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2017 with TEKNO Autosports alongside Kiwi driver Shane van Gisbergen and Jonathon Webb.
The Portuguese driver is well credentialed with a British Formula 3 Championship title and a Formula Renault 3.5 Series crown.
“Bathurst is a great track with a lot of happy memories for me, so to be able to go back there with McLaren and 59Racing is very exciting,” Parente said.
“There are a lot of familiar faces in the team, so I am very confident heading into the race that we can do a good job.”
Like Parente, Barnicoat is another sports car specialist. At just 23-years-old he’s found success in junior formulae including Formula Renault and Formula 4. In recent years Barnicoat has focussed on various GT3 and Le Mans prototype-based championships.
“A huge thanks goes to 59Racing for the opportunity to race at Mount Panorama,” he said.
“It’s one of those bucket list circuits in world motorsport, so I’m really looking forward to driving the McLaren 720S GT3 around there.
“It’s even more exciting that it’s the first year the car has raced there, so there will be some learning to do but we know the car and team are up to the task.
“It’s been a few years since I’ve raced there, and I can’t wait to get back.”
For Blomqvist, it’s a new beginning of sorts. After he was dropped by BMW, Blomqvist has since been picked up by R-Motorsport for this year’s GT World Challenge Europe.
Now 26 years old, Blomqvist has been racing largely in Europe with drives in Formula 3 leading to a gig with BMW in the DTM and more recently IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in GTLM. Blomqvist’s biggest success to date includes a 24 Hours of Spa win with BMW.
Confirmation of his Bathurst 12 Hour debut comes after he drove in the recent GT3-based Challenge Bathurst race meeting.
“I’m very much looking forward to joining 59Racing at Bathurst and driving the McLaren 720S,” Blomqvist said.
“Having never raced at Bathurst before it looks like a very challenging circuit, but I have some great co-drivers that I’m sure will help me.
“I’m looking forward to racing with the Alvaro, Ben, and the whole team.”
The 2020 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour takes place on 31 January-2 February at the famed Mount Panorama.