GT teams gain value Bathurst track time at Festival
Several Australasian GT teams will use this weekend’s Production Sports Car races at the Bathurst Motor Festival to gain valuable track time and ahead of future Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour campaigns.
Melbourne Performance Centre, Wall Racing, Jamec PEM Racing, AMAK Racing, Grove Racing, Vicious Rumour Racing and New Zealand outfit Motorsport Services are among a host of top GT outfits returning to Bathurst this weekend just eight weeks after competing in this year’s 12 Hour enduro.
With track time at the circuit a rare commodity, teams say they are keen to grasp every opportunity get laps at the fabled 6.213km circuit.
Vicious Rumour Racing owner/driver Tony Defelice is a prime example, having not driven at the circuit since opening practice for the 2014 12-hour.
In a now well-documented accident, the Victorian crashed heavily at McPhillamy Park after contact with another car, ending the teams’ weekend in the first practice session.
Defelice then stood aside from competing with the team this year, electing instead to put Benny Simonsen in the car for his Bathurst debut.
The gamble paid off as despite starting from the rear of the grid, Simonsen and co-drivers Andrea Montermini and Renato Loberto ultimately stormed through the field to finish sixth outright, just one lap behind the leader and as first Ferrari home.
Among the field are an array of mainly Porsche GT3s and Audi R8s spread between strong Australian GT and Porsche Carrera Cup teams.
Motorsport Services is running a trio of Porsche 997 GT3 Cup cars for Daniel Stutterd, Sam Filmore and Tim James while Wall Racing has Greg Taylor and Barton Mawer in Taylor’s Audi R8 LMS Ultra.
Double 12 Hour winner Rod Salmon will also race his similar Audi, having sat out the opening round of the Australian GT Championship in Adelaide.
Local racer Brad Shields re-joins Andrew Macpherson’s IMAK outfit, driving the Porsche GT3-R that crashed out at Forrest Elbow in the early stages of this year’s 12-hour.
Reigning Carrera Cup Australia Challenge Class winner Stephen Grove will race with 16-year-old son Brenton this weekend, the team taking a long-term view to get the younger Grove up to speed for a potential 12 Hour start in the future.
The Grove team won Class B in the Bathurst 12 Hour last year and finished second in class this year after driver Ben Barker was hit into the Murray’s Corner gravel in the final half hour of the race.
Meanwhile, Scott Taylor Motorsport will run a pair of Porsche 997 GT3 Cup cars for Carrera Cup racer Taylor and 16-year-old Aaron Seton – who makes his Bathurst debut this weekend.
Fellow Porsche Carrera Cup teams DNA Racing and McElrea Racing will also run cars this weekend.
The 55-strong NSW Production Sports car field will tackle a pair of one-hour races this weekend, one each on Saturday andSunday.
The races are amongst the highlights of the Bathurst Motor Festival program that includes the return of the Heritage Touring Cars category to Mount Panorama for the first time since 2011.
More than 350 cars are entered across the seven categories on-track this weekend.