The return of Bentley Team M-Sport headlines an initial 58-car entry list released today ahead of February’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
Fifteen brands feature on the current entry list, with the addition of a pair of Bentley Continental GT3s from the M-Sport operation adding to an already stunning GT3 grid that presently stands at 35 cars.
ENTRY LIST: Bathurst 12H
In just two years, the works Bentley operation has quickly established themselves as fan favorites of the 12-hour, narrowly missing a podium finish in 2015 before hustling to third place this year.
The team will announce further details, including whether 2016 podium finishers Matt Bell, Steven Kane and Guy Smith will return, in due course.
Hong Kong-based team Craft Bamboo Racing will also return to the Mountain next year with their pair of Porsche 911 GT3R entries, two years after finishing on the podium in the thrilling conclusion to the 2015 race when they raced Aston Martins.
The Craft Bamboo entries join Walkinshaw Racing and U.S.-based Competition Motorsport in an expanded outright Porsche attack, the latest Porsche 911 GT3 R set for its race debut.
Other highlights include four Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 entries (two each from the Nissan factory outfit and privateer entry Hobson Motorsport), the return of 2014 runners-up HTP Motorsport and their Mercedes AMG GT3 from Germany plus a host of locally-run AMG entries.
Audi are the most numerous marque with seven R8 LMS entries confirmed starters, while five Mercedes-Benz/AMG entries are on the list alongside the two BMW Team SRM M6 GT3s.
Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG, Nissan and Porsche are all represented in Class A.
The 15 brands include teams from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, England, Switzerland, Hong Kong and the U.S.
A strong driver roster has already begun to emerge, with stars from Australia’s Virgin Australia Supercars championship and GT racing around the world confirming their intention to compete.
Current Supercars stars Craig Lowndes, Jamie Whincup, new champion Shane van Gisbergen, Mark Winterbottom and Chaz Mostert will all compete while legends of the sport like Mark Skaife, Russell Ingall, Tony Longhurst and Steven Richards are also set.
International stars like Timo Glock, Marco Wittmann, Patrick Long and Marc Lieb have already been locked in amongst a host expected to compete.
Class allocations within the three-tiered outright class, including those to contest the B.R.M Chronographes Pro/Am and Am classes, are yet to be determined.
While the outright GT3 class is the strongest ever entered for the race, growth has also been seen in the various classes – particularly in Class C for GT4 vehicles.
Eight cars are currently confirmed for the emerging growth category, representing Aston Martin, Porsche, Lotus, KTM and McLaren, respectively.
While the R-Motorpsort Aston Martin Vantage GT4, Donut King Racing Lotus and Pro-Sport Performance Porsche team have previously visited the Mountain, the KTM X-Bow and McLaren 570S will be making their first Bathurst starts.
The diverse Invitational class is set to provide a remarkably diverse array of machinery, both Production-based cars and endurance racing specials alike.
While MARC Cars Australia dominate the list with a record-breaking eight entries, surely the most ever by a single team in a Bathurst enduro, the Bathurst debut of an Aston Martin Vantage GT8 will be a fascinating addition – Swiss-based R-Motorsport entering in Invitational alongside their Vantage GT4 in Class C.
The fan-favoorite Daytona Coupe returns, as done the double race-winning BMW 335i and the iconic Mazda RX7.
Entries close on Dec. 16 with a final entry list for the race to be released following that date.