After holding on for a thrilling victory in the race this year, defending Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour champions Maranello Motorsport has been the first to lodge an entry for the 2015 event in a bid to defend their Bathurst crown.
Entries opened on July 1 with Maranello Motorsport’s Mark Coffey quick to confirm that his Melbourne-based team will be back to aim at a Bathurst double.
With Craig Lowndes, John Bowe, Mika Salo and Peter Edwards sharing the driving duties, the Melbourne-based team narrowly missed pole position on Saturday however utilised raw speed, strategy and some defensive driving at the end of 12-hours to take a remarkable win by less than 0.4 seconds ahead of the HTP Motorsport Mercedes Benz SLS AMG.
Lowndes and German star Maximilian Buhk battled for the lead in the closing stages of the race with the Australian champion holding on to deliver the famed Italian brand their first major Bathurst success.
“The win was one of the biggest moments in the history of Maranello Motorsport and a proud moment for everyone involved,” Team Owner Mark Coffey said.
“We loved taking on the best that the world has to offer and showing how strong GT racing is in Australia and that the Aussie teams can do the job on an international stage.
“There is a lot of work ahead and plans to sort, but we know we have the depth of drivers and personnel to do the job and we have proven that the Ferrari 458 GT3 is capable of winning the race.”
Coffey said that his team was determined to achieve a rare Bathurst double – achieved only by the works Audi R8 LMS squad since GT cars were introduced into the race in 2011
“Winning at Bathurst is tough but defending a victory is even tougher. We want to showcase our teams’ abilities by coming back and aiming to win the race again.
“Based on the interest we are getting out of Europe, there is no doubt that there are a lot of teams who want to come down and join the race next year and it’s already clear that it will be even harder to defend our victory than it was to win the first one.
“There are a lot of factory Ferrari drivers lining up to come and drive, and they’re just the start.”
Maranello has not yet announced their driving combinations however Coffey hinted that two-time 12-hour winner John Bowe and ex-Ferrari F1 star Mika Salo were likely to return to the Ferrari squad.