Danish international Allan Simonsen and his Le Mans Series co-driver Dominik Farnbacher will lead an outright Ferrari assault on next year’s Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour.
The pair will team with Australian touring car legend John Bowe and businessman Peter Edwards in the latter’s 458 GT3 specification Ferrari, to be prepared for the event by Melbourne firm Maranello Motorsport.
Simonsen finished sixth in this year’s 12 Hour driving a Ferrari 430 GT3, but says the new car will mount a strong challenge to the expected Audi and Mercedes competition.
“It’s a very strong team,” Simonsen told Speedcafe.com.
“It’s clear that this year, the teams going for the win pretty well ran three professional drivers, so you’ve got to put a strong team together to be in with a shot.
“The 458 is a new spec GT3 car, so it should match the Audis that were there this year – I certainly don’t think you’ll see them running away with it again.”
Simonsen, who drove alongside Greg Murphy in the Pepsi Max Commodore at the weekend’s L&H 500 at Phillip Island, currently races a GT2 specification 458 in the Le Mans Series.
Also a Ferrari regular in the British GT Championship, the 33-year-old expects the Bathurst 12 Hour to garner increased international interest in the coming years.
“I think it has strong future,” said Simonsen of the race.
“It’s been growing every year and people are talking more and more about it in Europe.
“I’m in close association with the Ferrari factory and the guys at Michelotto, who build the cars. They’ve shown great interest in the fact that Dominik and I are coming down to do the race, so it’s something that is on their radar.
“Audi is obviously strongly behind it, and we’re expecting Mercedes to give a fair bit of support to next year’s race. I think it’ll grow and grow – I think it’s going to be a big thing.”
Several international teams are expected to compete in the 2011 race, with German Audi squad Phoenix Racing set to be joined by UK-based Birchwood Racing (Aston Martin N24), Belgium’s VDS Racing Adventures (Ford Mustang GT3) and Holland’s Red Camel Racing (Seat Leon TDi).
Expressions of interest have also been received from international endurance racing outfits Liqui Moly Team Engstler (BMW Z4 GT3, Germany), Qvick Motors Racing (BMW E90 WTCC, Belgium), Speedlover (Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, Belgium), a2b Racing (BMW 120 D, UAE) and CEA Racing (Honda City, Thailand), with organisers currently working on fitting the proposed entries into the race’s class structure.
The 2012 Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour will take place on February 26.