The depth of the 2014 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour field continues to grow, with Melbourne-based Ferrari team Vicious Rumour Racing confirming today that reigning GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT class champion Alessandro Balzan will join the team next year.
The 34-year-old Italian driver will join Tony Defelice in the teams’ Ferrari 458 GT3, which arrived in the country today, with further drivers to be announced soon. Entries for the race close in one weeks time, on December 13.
The team extensively tested their new car in Europe before it was sent from the Michelotto Factory in Italy to the teams’ Melbourne Base, arriving today.
“It’s very satisfying to finally have the car on Australian soil so we can begin prepping for Bathurst,” Vicious Rumour Crew Chief Phil Hughes explained.
“The car was a bit late but cleared customs this morning and should be in the workshop by this afternoon. We know it’s a good car.
“We tested twice in Europe in Spain (Barcelona) and at the Mugello circuit and the car was very, very good. Balzan drove the car there and was super impressive so we are very pleased to have him as part of the line-up.”
The highly credentialed Balzan may not be a household name in Australia but packs substantial success at the top level of GT competition in his already lengthy career.
After several seasons competing in the European and World Touring Car Championships, a move to sports car-style racing brought instant success with Balzan winning three consecutive Porsche Carrera Cup Italy titles from 2009-2011.
A subsequent move to America also paid dividends, culminating with outright victory in the GT Class of the 2013 Rolex Sports Car Series driving an Ferrari 458 – the last season of GRAND-AM prior to its merger with the American Le Mans Series for next year.
The brand-new Vicious Rumour Ferrari will be one of the most current-specification GT3 vehicles on the grid when the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour rumbles to the green flag on Sunday morning next February 9, the team shaping as the quiet achievers of the already strong Ferrari pack.
“We’re not going to be going all-out to win the race, but we are aiming to go there and have ‘a chance’ at a good result,” Hughes said.
“We know the car is good thanks to the testing we did in Europe and we think that we will have a strong driving line-up even if guys like Tony and Allesandro have never been to Bathurst before.
“We plan to stay close to the top ten, push for the top five and then if the four guys in front come off… anything can happen!”
Additional Ferrari entrants include the lap-record holding Maranello motorsport outfit, the crack AF Corse squad plus Clearwater Racing, who finished third in 2012 and second this year – ensuring the strongest ever representation from the fabled Prancing Horse brand in Bathurst history.