***This weekend’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour kicks off the 200th anniversary celebrations for the town of Bathurst, which was inaugurated in 1815. “Outside of Sydney, we are the oldest settlement anywhere in the country,” said Bathurst Mayor Garry Rush. “I couldn’t think of a better way to kick start the year than to have this very significant event here.”
***Members of the Mobil 1 GT3 Endurance Porsche team were involved in a serious road car accident Thursday, resulting in four of its drivers being hospitalized and the team pulling one of its Class B Porsche entries from the race. While two drivers were released, both Phil Mauger and Hayden Knighton are expected to remain in a Sydney hospital for at least the next three days, one of them currently being in induced coma.
***Maranello Motorsports’ Bathurst 12 Hour may not be over as first reported, as the team could strike a late deal with AF Corse to purchase its spare Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 chassis that’s on-site. The car was due to race with Piergiuseppe Perazzini but the Italian driver was forced to withdraw at the last minute due to undergoing back surgery.
***Both the No. 11 M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 and No. 99 Craft-Bamboo Racing Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3s are expected to return to action tomorrow morning following separate accidents. Andy Soucek slammed into the wall at Turn 3 while Jean-Marc Merlin was involved in the accident that sent Maranello’s Tony D’Alberto to the hospital.
***The lack of full-time V8 Supercar drivers taking part in this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour is no coincidence, and is largely due to the ongoing saga involving the V8 series promoters, which scheduled a mandatory test at Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend.
***Nissan, which had planned to enter two cars this weekend, was forced to reduce its effort to a single GT-R NISMO GT3, while other V8 stars such as Jason Bright and defending race winner Craig Lowndes were also unable to take part in Australia’s premier endurance race because of the clash.
***Benny Simonsen, the brother of Allan, makes his Bathurst debut following a late deal with Vicious Rumour Racing. The Dane joins Andrea Montermini and Renato Loberto in the team’s Ferrrari 458 Italia GT3, which will be among the cars vying for the Allan Simonsen Pole Trophy, named in his late brother’s honor, on Saturday.
***While many GT endurance races around the world feature a spec tire, that’s not the case in the Bathurst 12 Hour, which sees a tire war between Michelin and Pirelli. Twenty nine of the 53 cars are fitted with Michelin tires, with the French tire giant having shipped 1,700 tires to Mt. Panorama this weekend.