Shane van Gisbergen expects traffic to play an increasingly critical factor in deciding this weekend’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
The once-around-the-clock Mount Panorama endurance classic continues to grow both in stature and entries with the most talented GT3 field ever assembled in Australia set to do battle this weekend.
The 2017 edition will see 55 crews go in search of glory, up from a 40-car grid last year.
Defending race winner Van Gisbergen believes the growth, which has seen numbers in lower classes increase, will make navigating slower traffic a challenge.
After guiding the Tekno Autosports McLaren to victory last year, Van Gisbergen has switched manufacturers in one of the biggest off-season GT3 moves.
The Kiwi joins the Scott Taylor Motorsport factory supported Mercedes AMG GT GT3 squad alongside Works driver Maro Engel and experienced sportscar racer Craig Baird.
“The biggest thing for me is with the expanded field there are lot more classes of car and we didn’t really have that last year,” Van Gisbergen told Speedcafe.com.
“This year there is going to be a lot of Safety Cars and traffic and there will be guys that make desperate moves on slower cars.
“I don’t know if more patience is required but you have just got to be more calculated and know when to make a move.”
The reigning Supercars champion heads to Mount Panorama confident his STM outfit has all the ingredients to challenge for outright honours.
Van Gisbergen has already clocked plenty of miles in the AMG GT3 having conducted a test day with STM, while driving a version of the car for WeatherTech Racing at the Daytona 24 Hours last weekend.
“The car feels really good and is nice to drive,” he added.
“It has a very different feeling from other cars I have driven but I think it will be solid.
“The biggest thing for me is that I’m confident in the car. We have three solid drivers and that is key for that race.
“I never go racing with expectation but we have left no stone unturned with our preparation.
“We have had a good test day and we have three solid drivers and no ego.
“We have got nothing to prove results wise and we are there to do a job and have a good race.
“I think we are in a good spot but anything can happen in 12 hours of racing.”
Official track sessions begin on Friday with the opening 30-minute practice scheduled for 0815 local time.