All the news, notes and facts we found on the first day of track action at the 2020 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
BATHURST 12 HOUR | LIVE STREAM | EVENT PAGE | 2010s GALLERY | INTERVIEW SCOTT DIXON | FRIDAY PRACTICE REPORT | QUALIFYING REPORT | RACE UPDATE 1: MORNING | RACE UPDATE 2: AFTERNOON | RACE UPDATE 3: FINISH | HIGHLIGHTS VIDEO | RACE NOTEBOOK | GALLERY
➤ The 39-car field’s first roar was heard on Thursday as the full field drove down from the race track to downtown Bathurst on public roads. The Spa 24 Hours style parade brought the cars from all classes closer to the fans.
➤ While most eyes will be on the GT3 class that make up the bulk of the grid, six cars from the GT4 and Invitational classes join the big cars. GT4 sees two entries: one BMW M4 GT4 and one Mercedes-AMG GT4. MARC II Ford Mustang V8s make up the Invitational class. Class B for Porsche GT3 Cup cars has been dropped from the 2020 edition of the Bathurst 12 Hour.
➤ Three out of four practice sessions on Friday were dominated by Mercedes-AMG, with only the first practice – for non-Class A Platinum and Gold-rated drivers – topped by another brand. Shane van Gisbergen set the fastest time of the day with a 2:03.9649 in the #888 Triple Eight Mercedes-AMG GT3.
➤ The first victim of Mount Panorama Circuit is the #35 KCMG Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 of local favourite Josh Burdon, 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour champion Katsumasa Chiyo and Tsugio Matsuda. The car suffered a weekend-ending accident in the opening session – the session cruelly topped by the same car.
➤ You can find our Bathurst 12 Hour Friday practice report HERE.
➤ What are the challenges five-time IndyCar champion and recently crowned four-time Daytona 24 Hours winner Scott Dixon is facing this weekend as he enters his first race at Mount Panorama? We talked with the Kiwi about this brand-new experience; read the interview HERE.
➤ Several technical issues have popped up on the first day of running for several teams. Maro Engel had a big scare driving the #77 Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo when the right rear suspension failed in Griffin’s Bend, but the Hong Kong-based team was far from the only one suffering technical issues.
Hobson Motorsport lost plenty of track time due to brake issues, forcing the Garth Walden Racing-run squad to change the brakes on its #96 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 and missing out on much of the afternoon’s running. The #62 R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 saw its planning turned upside-down up by problems with the drive-shaft. And the #12 NED Racing Team Porsche 991.2 GT3R that came to a stop at Forrest Elbow in second practice had to have its engine replaced. The combined Earl Bamber Motorsport and McElrea Racing crew worked quick enough to get the Porsche back on track for the third session. Both Bentley Team M-Sport Continental GT3s appear to have hit engine problems as well, having missed the final practice session.
➤ From 2020 on the race will no longer be a previous-year spec only race for GT3s. Mercedes-AMG is the first manufacturer to have homologated its new-spec car in time for the Bathurst 12 Hour, making the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo eligible for the 2020 race. Three 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo models have been entered, with Craft-Bamboo Racing, Triple Eight Race Engineering and GruppeM Racing each taking care of an Evo.
➤ Other new cars making their first Bathurst 12 Hour appearance are the Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 – entered by R-Motorsport and Garage 59 – and McLaren 720S GT3 – entered by 59Racing. Audi and Porsche teams are now running their brands’ respective new-for-2019 evo kits. Nineteen Corp brings the Mercedes-AMG GT4 to the Mountain for the first time.
➤ Late changes were made to the entry list in the week before the race. The AutoArena-sponsored Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Patrick Assenheimer and Sergej Afanasiev sees the addition of former Lamborghini racer Michele Beretta. Hobson Motorsport’s line-up of Brett Hobson and brothers Kurt and Jake Kostecki has seen the latter withdrawn and replaced by Garth Walden whose GWR team prepares the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 for the Hobson Motorsport. It will be Walden’s first start in the Bathurst 12 Hour since 2014. The #19 Nineteen Corp Mercedes-AMG GT4 has Dirk Müller and Harrison Newey join teamowner Mark Griffith for his first outing with his new car as part of a full-season Australian GT Championship campaign.
➤ Grove Racing father and son duo Stephen and Brenton Grove take on the Bathurst 12 Hour for the first time in the GT3 class. After winning the race with a Porsche Carrera Cup in Class B four times – the last two in 2018 and 2019 – the Groves got their first taste of GT3 last year at the FIA Motorsport World Games where they represented Team Australia. The team sticks with Porsche, entering a 991.2 GT3R run by Herberth Motorsport. Porsche specialist Ben Barker joins Grove Racing for the fourth consecutive year – impressing on Friday by racing the 911 to the fastest time of the day for any of the Porsche teams.
➤ Walkenhorst Motorsport only barely managed to make it to Bathurst. Planned for a two-car assault, problems out of the team’s control while shipping the BMW M6 GT3s from South Africa to Australia at the end of last year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge forced BMW Motorsport to take the unusual – and highly expensive – step of flying in a spare chassis at the last minute. The Melle-based team will be BMW’s sole representative in the 2020 Intercontinental GT Challenge, entering a car for Augusto Farfus, Nick Catsburg and Chaz Mostert for Bathurst and a second car in the remainder of the championship for Martin Tomczyk, Nick Yelloly and David Pittard. Schnitzer Motorsport, another of BMW’s go-to teams for factory racing endeavours, meanwhile will focus on the Nürburgring 24 Hours and the development of the BMW M4 GT3.
➤ Ferrari is the latest manufacturer to confirm its full-season Intercontinental GT Challenge entry, bringing the total number of manufacturers to a record-breaking nine. HubAuto Corsa will again be the Italians’ flagship team in the global championship. Aston Martin and Lamborghini recently announced their first full-season campaign.
➤ 25 drivers are doing the Daytona-Bathurst double, with Harrison Newey being the latest addition to the entry list, the LMP2 class winner receiving his call-up from Mark Griffith’s Nineteen Corp hours after taking victory with DragonSpeed. Renger van der Zande and Scott Dixon come to Australia on the back of outright Daytona 24 Hours victory, while Augusto Farfus and Chaz Mostert won in GTLM and Andrea Caldarelli took GTD honours.
Drivers doing the intercontinental double are: Laurens Vanthoor (#1 Earl Bamber Motorsport Porsche), Earl Bamber (#1 Earl Bamber Motorsport Porsche), Dries Vanthoor (#2 Audi Sport Team Valvoline), Jules Gounon (#7 Bentley Team M-Sport), Oliver Jarvis (#8 Bentley Team M-Sport), Mirko Bortolotti (#22 Audi Sport Team Valvoline), Daniel Serra (#27 HubAuto Racing Ferrari), Mario Farnbacher (#30 JAS Motorsport Honda), Renger van der Zande (#30 JAS Motorsport Honda), Dane Cameron (#30 JAS Motorsport Honda), Augusto Farfus (#34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW), Nick Catsburg (#34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW), Chaz Mostert (#34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW), Álvaro Parente (#60 59Racing McLaren), Andrea Caldarelli (#63 Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini), Marco Mapelli (#63 Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini), Scott Dixon (#76 R-Motorsport Aston Martin), Shane van Gisbergen (#888 Triple Eight Race Engineering Mercedes-AMG), Matt Campbell (#911 Absolute Racing Porsche 991.2), Mathieu Jaminet (#911 Absolute Racing Porsche 991.2), Patrick Pilet (#911 Absolute Racing Porsche 991.2), Felipe Fraga (#999 Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing), Andrew Watson (#159 Garage 59 Aston Martin), Roman De Angelis (#159 Garage 59 Aston Martin) and Harrison Newey (#19 Nineteen Corp Mercedes-AMG).
➤ It is unlikely newly crowned two-time Daytona 24 Hours champion Renger van der Zande will make any additional GT3 appearances beyond what has already been announced as he focuses on his third season with Wayne Taylor Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship: “I’ll be doing Bathurst, Suzuka and Kyalami, but right now that’s about it,” the Dutchman said. “My schedule around the Nürburgring 24 Hours is really busy so we’ll see what happens around that time if I will be able to attend the race.”
➤ 2020 marks the 10th edition of the Bathurst 12 Hour under GT3 rules, the class having made its first appearance on Mount Panorama in 2011. Rewind to the 2010s with our gallery of photos from the past decade.
➤ Last year saw a record-breaking 312 laps completed in the 12 hours since the green flag, with Earl Bamber Motorsport takings its first win in its first GT3 start. 312 laps translate to 1,938 kilometres with an average speed of 161.06 km/h across the 6.213-kilometre long race track. No race in Australia had reached a further distance since the 2003 Bathurst 24 Hour.
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➤ Weather continues to play a part for the rest of the weekend. After Friday’s 36 degrees Celsius and Saturday’s 37, race day sees a slight drop in temperature to 33 degrees with an increased chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. For a more detailed weather report visit Racecast Weather.
➤ You can find all you need to know on our dedicated Bathurst 12 Hour Event Page: Entry list, time schedule, least year’s photos, the latest news and more. Click HERE.
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