The grid for the 2022 Bathurst 12 Hour is taking shape as the 13-15 May race draws near. The race will be round one of the SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge.
This year’s race will feature a return to its past as a revised date caused by COVID-19 has shifted it from its usual early February running. This has created scheduling issues with major sportscar events in Europe and the US alike. With limited international resources available – particularly factory teams, the Bathurst 12 Hour has reverted back to the Pro-Am driver format that was used from 2011 to 2015. This format was last won by Nissan with a GT-R GT3 piloted by Wolfgang Reip, Katsumasa Chiyo and Nissan GT Academy/amateur driver Florian Strauss. The move has led to increased interest from local teams and an array of international entries.
Another consequence of the new date will be more darkness running on Mount Panorama. The race will now start and finish in the dark from 5:15 local time to 17:15 in the late afternoon. Organisers have organised night practice to accommodate for the extra time under lights to help acclimate drivers.
International presence in the race has been announced with regular race participants Craft-Bamboo Racing returning with an Mercedes-AMG GT3 for a yet-to-be-announced driver line-up. The Hong Kong-based team has a best-ever Bathurst finish of 3rd in the 2015 event with team director and former two-time outright winner (2010 and 2011) Darryl O’Young in the line-up. While no driver names have yet been announced it is likely that familiar experienced names and possibly O’Young himself will be in the car come the middle of May.
A second strong international AMG GT3 comes from another returnee in SunEnergy1 racing. Based in the US, the team will feature Australian owner/driver Kenny Habul alongside former Bentley and now AMG factory driver Jules Gounon, young AMG hot-shoe Luca Stolz and experienced AMG endurance racer Martin Konrad. All have raced at Mount Panorama previously. A team best result of second overall in 2018 proves the teams capability, so with a fast and experienced line-up for this event, SunEnergy1 is a strong favourite for the win.
While no car livery has yet been revealed it is highly likely that the SunEnergy1 will still be a fan favourite after its famous eye-catching fire orange and chrome blue cars of years past.
Another long-time supporter of the race will return via the entry of local team Grove Racing. The team, led by father-son combination Stephen and Brenton is complimented by long-time co-driver Ben Barker from the UK. Grove has in recent years expanded their endurance racing program from Bathurst 12 Hour Class B domination to GT3 and outright competition with a strong local and international campaign based around their latest specification Porsche 911 GT3R. A Grove/Barker combination in the team’s B12hr line-up has been a feature of six of the last seven events.
The GT3 entries are in addition to the local Lamborghini, Audi R8 and AMG entries announced recently, bringing the current top-class field to 12 cars announced so far.
Another intriguing entry is the KTM X-Bow GT2 of M-Motorsport, which will be driven by X-Bow GT4 regulars Trent Harrison and David Crampton, and joined by experienced brothers in Glen and Dale Wood. It will mark the debut of a GT2 car in the race and has been placed to compete alongside race stalwarts MARC racing cars for class honours. Both team and drivers are no strangers to the Mountain after competing in KTM GT4 cars in previous years.
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