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‘High profile’ international drivers expected at new Bathurst event

Mat Coch Tom Howard

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Wednesday 13th November, 2019 - 2:37pm

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Organisers have had strong international interest in the Bathurst International

Organisers are expecting ‘high profile’ international drivers to take part in the recently announced Bathurst International.

Set to be held towards the end of 2020, the Bathurst International will feature a 500km TCR race, supported by S5000, Touring Car Masters, TA2, and LMP3.

Of the five classes, three have never before raced at Mount Panorama, with organisers looking to capitalise on the appeal of both the categories and circuit to lure international competitors.

“The categories are different from others at the Mountain and some of the cars haven’t been run there at all before,” Australian Racing Group director Matt Braid told Speedcafe.com.

“Most of them have the ability to attract international drivers who have perhaps driven them in other markets, and other categories, so that’s a big appeal for us.

“TCR will be the headline act, the 500km race, that’ll attract obviously teams and drivers internationally.

“There were whispers there was going to be a TCR race at Bathurst,” Braid added.

“Any touring car driver in the world either has driven at Bathurst or wants to drive at Bathurst, so in TCR land everyone’s chomping at the bit for this event.”

Braid also expects the allure of racing at Mount Panorama to tempt a number of high profile open wheel racers to the event too.

Since launching in Sandown there has been growing overseas interest in the category, which was helped by Rubens Barrichello making a cameo at the maiden event.

The Brazilian could be among those on the entry list, having been made aware of the prospect of the Bathurst event.

“Already off the back of when we first announced the class and further again when Rubens Barrichello ran the car at Sandown, there’s been talk overseas and we are getting a lot enquiries from interested drivers now factoring in the car’s racing at Bathurst,” Braid said.

“We are going to see some high profile internationals in the open wheel cars.

“Rubens has already said he’d love to come back for Bathurst,” he added.

“We obviously knew about the Grand Prix and we whispered in his ear about Bathurst, and he was like ‘yes please’.

“We’re hearing a lot of whispers out of Europe about people asking questions about the category, and now with the Bathurst announcement that should accelerate that even further and create more excitement.”

Though it does not yet have a presence in Australia, Braid says there has been interest from LMP3 competitors about the event too.

Set to make its Australian debut next season with the LMP3 Cup Australia, the Asian Le Mans Series is set to host a round at The Bend Motorsport Park in January.

It will be the first time an LMP3 race has been held in Australia, with Braid keen to capitalise on that event to spruik the Bathurst International to teams.

“That will effectively be an LMP format race, which will allow teams, local teams, European, and the Asian teams to come out, so it’ll be almost invitational in that it’s open to all,” Braid explained.

“There’s significant interest there already from the Asian Le Mans guys. Seeing those cars go around would be spectacular.

“There’s already been numerous contacts about it,” he added.

“At this stage the interest level is high, so we don’t foresee any issue filling grids for any of the categories we’ve got.”

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