Blancpain GT Series favourites confirmed among stellar Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour grid
The entry list for the 2019 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour has been revealed, with a host of Blancpain GT Series regulars set to tackle the Mount Panorama event on 3 February.
The Bathurst race represents the opening round of the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge campaign, which will also take in the Total 24 Hours of Spa as part of its five-round schedule.
The competition is set to be fierce, with the world’s leading GT manufacturers calling on their top driving talent to contest the championship. With multiple Blancpain GT Series champions and Total 24 Hours of Spa winners among the field, the standard promises to be extremely high.
Audi took the overall win at Bathurst 12 months ago and the German marque will rely on several Blancpain GT Series regulars to defend its victory in 2019.
Indeed, the #2 Audi Sport Team Valvoline crew is made up of three series veterans in Christopher Mies, Christopher Haase and Markus Winkelhock. Mies is bidding to become only the second driver to claim a hat-trick of Bathurst 12 Hour victories, while past Spa winners Haase and Winkelhock are hunting their first triumph at the iconic Mount Panorama circuit.
The #22 Audi Sport Team Valvoline machine will feature Kelvin van der Linde, who enjoyed an excellent Blancpain GT Series campaign in 2018 that included a superb podium finish at the Total 24 Hours of Spa. He is joined by fellow Blancpain GT Series race-winner Frederic Vervisch, with local ace Garth Tander completing an impressive crew.
Perhaps the most exciting line-up for the event comes from the Mercedes-AMG stable. The German brand has backed an all-star line-up at the Mann Filter GruppeM Racing squad, with overall Blancpain GT Series champions Raffaele Marciello (2018) and Maxi Buhk (2016) paired with multiple race winner Maxi Gotz.
The #77 Mercedes-AMG Team Craft Bamboo Black Falcon machine also features a stellar crew, with reigning Endurance Cup drivers’ champions Maro Engel and Luca Stolz competing alongside tin-top legend Gary Paffett. Yelmer Buurman, who completed last years’ Endurance Cup-winning trio alongside Engel and Stolz, will drive for the Griffith Corp. Team Nineteen Black Falcon squad.
All three drivers among the #75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG crew have previously tasted Blancpain GT Series success. Reigning Intercontinental GT Series drivers’ champion Tristan Vautier and bronze champion Kenny Habul will be joined by former Bathurst 12 Hour winner Thomas Jaeger for the event.
Walkenhorst Motorsport will tackle the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour with its BMW M6 GT3, which took a famous overall win at last year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa. Christian Krognes will be back behind the wheel for the German squad, alongside past Spa winner and Blancpain GT Series regular Nick Catsburg. Mikkel Jensen, who contested the 2017 Blancpain GT Series, completes the line-up.
Bentley Team M-Sport will rely on the same two-car line-up that it plans to field for the full Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup this term. The crews are unchanged from the conclusion of the 2018 season, with Steven Kane, Jules Gounon and Jordan Pepper driving the #107 Continental GT3, and the long-standing trio of Andy Soucek, Maxime Soulet and Vince Abril aboard the #108 machine.
Porsche will adopt the same strategy, with its two-car Bathurst line-up also set to contest the Endurance Cup in 2019. Both of the German marque’s entries will see an experienced racer paired with two rising talents: Romain Dumas shares the #911 machine with Sven Muller and Mathieu Jaminet, while Dirk Werner leads the #912 crew alongside Denis Olsen and Matt Campbell.
The German marque will be further represented by the #540 Black Swan Porsche, which contested last year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa. Tim Pappas, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Marc Lieb were all among the line-up for the Belgian contest and will once again form the crew at Bathurst.
R-Motorsport will contest the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour for the first time with its Aston Martin Vantage GT3. The Swiss squad will field regular drivers Jake Dennis, Mattieu Vaxiviere and Marvin Kirchhoefer in its #760 machine, while Matt Parry – who contested the 2018 Endurance Cup aboard Nissan machinery – will lead the squad’s Pro-Am line-up in the #62 Vantage.
British rising star Andrew Watson will drive the #11 McLaren 650S for Objective Racing, reuniting him with the car that he drove during last season’s Endurance Cup. Other notable entrants include 2015 Endurance Cup champion Katsumasa Chiyo, who will drive a Nissan GT-R for the KCMG squad. His successor, the 2016 champion Shane van Gisbergen, forms part of a superstar line-up in the #888 Mercedes-AMG Team Vodafone effort, partnering with local legends Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes.
With the world’s leading GT talent going up against ace local racers, the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour promises to provide a stellar opener for the biggest Intercontinental GT Challenge campaign to date. The event commences on Thursday 31 January with 12 Hour cars hitting the circuit for the first time on Friday 1 February. The event will be streamed live on the Intercontinental GT Challenge website, on its Facebook page, and on the GTWorld YouTube channel.