The final event of the A1ustralian GT season will see a number of Australia’s leading GT3 teams contest the inaugural Pirelli AGT SuperSprint for just under four hours of track action at Bathurst’s Mount Panorama.
Unlike the previous seven events for Australian GT, the Bathurst event will not see track competition, rather a battle between the individual teams in four different categories, against the clock in three one hour open pit lane sessions, ahead of an all out assault on Christopher Mies 2018 GT3 lap record – 1:59.2910 – in a final 40-minute session where cars can run to FIA regulations, but without their mandated SRO Balance of Performance restrictions.
An array of teams and drivers have entered this weekend’s two-day event, led by 2015 CAMS Australian GT Champion Christopher Mies and his Audi teammate – newly crowned 2019 CAMS Australian Endurance Championship title winner, Garth Tander.
Tander will be battling against Red Bull Holden Racing Team endurance series partner Shane van Gisbergen, although they will represent different marques, the New Zealander behind the wheel of the Triple 8 Race Engineering Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the event, hot off the final round of the Supercars Championship final at Newcastle.
Whether 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour winner van Gisbergen is joined by his Triple 8 teammates Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes is open to speculation, however Lowndes has recently made no secret of the fact that to be prepared for the Supercars endurance championship next season, he needs to be in a car turning laps.
With three AGT events at Bathurst – and the likely addition of the 2020 Pirelli AGT SuperSprint as a fourth – next year, starting with the season-opening Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in late January, the event provides an ideal opportunity for teams to test and prepare for the coming season, an opportunity many felt was too good to miss.
There will be a selection of teams and cars entered in the outright GT3 Championship, with a string of world class cars and drivers vying for that top time, including a number of drivers who have figured prominently in Australian GT in recent years, including five-time Bathurst 1000 winner Steven Richards, who will be reunited with the BMW M6 GT3 alongside car owner Dean Grant.
Richards isn’t be the only former Bathurst 1000 winner entered, with Luke Youlden and Garth Tander both campaigning Audis – Youlden alongside car owner Vince Muriti, whilst the list of Bathurst 12 Hour winners includes Shane van Gisbergen (2016) and Christopher Mies (2011/2012).
Alongside the returning BMW, the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 will return to the mountain, with car-owner Brett Hobson joined by brothers Jake and Kurt Kostecki.
The Kostecki family put on a strong show during the recent Bathurst 1000, whilst the GT-R has recently enjoyed a makeover with Garth Walden Racing, a refresh Hobson believes might just see the popular Japanese icon pushing for a time at the top of the sheets.
Amongst the new entries on the mountain will be 59Racing’s McLaren 720S GT3, with the local team fielding an as yet unnamed driving squad, which is expected to see an international flavor with the British marque keen to build some valuable data ahead of next year’s Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
Another British marque that is no stranger to ‘The Mountain’ is Aston Martin, with former Australian GT race-winner Tony Quinn debuting his new Aston Martin GT3 in Australia alongside New Zealander Dan Gaunt, whilst fellow circuit owners Sam and Yasser Shahin will join forces in The Bend Motorsport Park Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Brothers James and Theo Koundouris will return to Bathurst with their Audi R8 LMS GT3, whilst Mark Griffith will jump back behind the wheel of his Mercedes-AMG GT3 off the back of a podium run at Sandown during the final round of the CAMS Australian GT Championship.
Meanwhile former Audi GT4 campaigner Victor Zagame will make his Bathurst debut in his ex-Team Valvoline Audi looking for valuable miles on Australia’s most popular circuit.
Trowel Challenge will see a good mix of cars including the green Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo EVO of Trofeo Motorsport.
As yet a driver lineup has not been finalised, however with the pending Lamborghini category in next year’s 12 Hour, there is a long list of drivers keen to turn laps and gain valuable data.
The team also finalizing names for a run in their 12 Hour Pro-Am finishing Huracan GT3.