Reigning Supercars champion Mark Winterbottom will join BMW Team SRM for the Bathurst 12 Hour, along with DTM champion Marco Wittmann and Formula 1 and DTM star Timo Glock.

The three new additions to the squad will be spread across the two entries. Glock will join Tony Longhurst, Mark Skaife and Russell Ingall in the ‘Bathurst Legends’ entry. Winterbottom and Wittmann, meanwhile, will be paired with team boss and lead driver Steve Richards in the #100 BMW Team SRM M6 GT3.

Both Wittmann and Glock join through the team’s involvement with BMW Motorsport in Europe. Wittmann cut his teeth in Formula BMW in Europe before a three-year stint in European Formula 3. He returned to the brand as a GT driver and DTM test driver in 2012, before being promoted to a DTM race seat in 2013. Wittman went on to win his first DTM title in 2014, backing this up with a second championship in 2016 aboard the BMW M4 DTM.

Glock also started his career in Formula BMW, before a long stint in open-wheelers that saw him win a GP2 title and spend five seasons as a full-time Formula 1 driver. After leaving F1 at the end of the 2012 season, he joined BMW’s DTM program, where he has raced for the last four seasons.

Winterbottom joins the team as the reigning Supercars champion, having broken through for his maiden title with Prodrive Racing Australia last season. ‘Frosty’ and Richards have prior form at Bathurst, the pair teaming up to win the Bathurst 1000 back in 2013. His addition to the team takes the total number of Great Race wins across the two line-ups to 15.

QUOTES

Steve Richards:

“It's fantastic that we can announce three exceptional drivers are joining BMW Team SRM for our two-car assault on the 2017 Bathurst 12 hour. Frosty and I have past experience at Bathurst, and share a career highlight together with our win there in 2013. Since then has added a Supercars championship to his CV, so there’s no doubt he’ll help us be in the hunt for a great result in February.

“BMW Group Australia has connected us with BMW Motorsport in Europe to help facilitate the inclusion of recently-crowned DTM champion Marco Wittmann in our driving lineup. As a two-time DTM winner for BMW, and with his experience driving the BMW M6 GT3, he will bring a huge amount to the table at Bathurst.

“With Timo joining Tony, Skaifey and Russell, I couldn't have possibly asked for a better lineup for BMW Team SRM to head to our first Bathurst 12 hour with.”

Mark Winterbottom:

“This is my first Bathurst 12 Hour, which is exciting. GT3 cars are obviously very cool to drive, and having all-professional line-ups in the top cars really makes it feel like a proper race to me. It’s changed my whole view on it. To have all these well-credentialed drivers going at it for 12 Hours, that’s going to be very cool to be a part of.

“Steve and I have had a lot of cracks at Bathurst together. We won together in 2013, which was incredible. That was the last time we raced there together, so we’re coming off the back of a win, technically. ‘Richo’ is easy to drive with, and working with him will make it an enjoyable week. It’s good when you know someone and you’ve worked with them before. I really enjoyed all the times we raced at Bathurst together in the past, and that was one of the things that made the decision easy for me.”

Marco Wittmann: 

“It is very exciting for me to be making my first start at the Bathurst 12 Hour. I have never been to Australia before, so there are a lot of new things awaiting me. And I am really looking forward to them. At the moment, I only know the circuit from computer games. It is iconic, and it’s sure to be a lot of fun to drive. I can hardly wait to do my first laps there in the BMW M6 GT3.

“I already know the car very well from my GT outings at the Nürburgring and in Daytona, and hope that I can use my experience to help the team.”

Timo Glock:

“It is fantastic to be back racing in Australia after a few years away. I love the country and the people. I always travelled to Formula 1 races a week early, in order to do a bit of sightseeing. The Australian GP in Melbourne was my favourite race. I have not driven at Bathurst before, but the circuit is legendary. I am really looking forward to the challenge and my first race in the BMW M6 GT3. Hopefully we can get a good result for BMW and the team.”

Aaron Seton, son of V8 Supercars Hall of Fame inductee Glenn and grandson of 1965 Bathurst winner Barry, has signed on the dotted line for all five rounds of the Toyota 86 Racing Series in 2016. Determined to extend the Seton motor racing dynasty into a third generation, the young-gun amateur racer was the first entrant to confirm their participation as entries for the much-anticipated Toyota 86 Racing Series officially opened.

Following a step-up from karts in 2014, 17-year old Aaron has since made his mark in GT and production car competition. Bearing one of the most famous names in Australian motorsport, he says he is eager to further his progress in a series designed to encourage and support emerging talent.

With sponsorship support from Sci-Fleet Hino, plus his famous father overseeing the build and on-going development of his car, not to mention managing test and race operations, Aaron is off to a flying start.

"I've got a lot to live up to, with dad and pop's success," Aaron said. "But heading into this series, I see their experience and support as a big advantage, and I'm keen to make them proud," he said.

Underpinned by a straightforward and relatively affordable technical spec, the Toyota 86 Racing Series provides the perfect platform for competitors to learn and develop their skills. A high-performance, low-cost mandatory race package developed by Neal Bates Motorsport (NBM), enhances the 86's natural balance and agility. The NBM kit focuses primarily on the suspension tune, exhaust, braking, wheels and engine management.

To further assist driver development, Toyota is also adding selected professional racers to the starting line-up, with different drivers brought in throughout the season. These nominated drivers are not eligible for prizemoney; their primary role being to mentor regular competitors by sharing tips on everything from race-craft and driving technique to engineering set-up and team structure.

In Aaron Seton's case, mentoring and tips from a pro (or two) are things he definitely won't be short of.

The Toyota 86 Racing Series

The Toyota 86 Racing Series is an initiative designed to provide an entry point and training ground for up-and-coming drivers, offering a confirmed prize pool of $125,000. Open to all manual variants of Toyota's cult-classic sports car*, the series is part of the support program at selected rounds of the Australian V8 Supercars championship. In 2016 the Toyota 86 Racing Series will run over five events: May 20-22 (Winton SuperSprint), August 26-28 (Sydney Motorsport Park SuperSprint), September 16-18 (Sandown 500), October 6-9 (Bathurst 1000) and November 25-27 (Sydney 500).

To coincide with the 2016 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, Mercedes-AMG is presenting its very latest racing car: the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the first time in Australia. Motorsport and Mercedes-AMG are inseparable entities: competition on the racetrack is deeply ingrained in the DNA of AMG, and constantly drives the team in Affalterbach on to achieve top-class performance. In no other customer race series in the world is there so much variety as in those held according to the FIA's GT3 rules. They attract the entire international sports car elite to the starting line. The mixture of demanding sprint races and legendary endurance classics around the globe constantly confronts the teams with new challenges.

"We are entering a hotly contested and strongly occupied competitive environment with the new Mercedes-AMG GT3. The high technological level and fair race rules motivate us to be right up in the front rank with our new customer racing car," says Tobias Moers, Chairman of Mercedes-AMG GmbH. "Our standard version of the AMG GT is already aimed specifically at the fiercely contested sports car segment. We are now systematically continuing this strategy on the racetrack as well. Only those who win against the best can substantiate a claim to leadership."

The spectacular design and cutting-edge technology of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 will make their mark in customer sport, and the high racetrack performance of the standard GT already provides the best possible basis for this. The development team also had the benefit of the experience gained from the successes of the SLS AMG GT3. This first customer sport racing car from AMG, which celebrated its debut in 2010, has had an impeccable career with 187 victories, and was able to win the "Grand Slam" in 2013: the four endurance classics in Dubai, Bathurst, at the Nürburgring and in Spa-Francorchamps.

The design lines of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 say everything about the character and ambitions of this racer: make way for a car that is primed for the attack, and wants only one thing, namely to win. Its matte paintwork in designo selenite grey magno covers the muscular contours like a second skin. As an alluring contrast, yellow exterior highlights create sophisticated effects in counter lighting. From whatever the viewing angle: this racing car from Affalterbach already makes a mighty impression at standstill, and embodies sheer power.

The widened body, the large air inlets, the diffuser and the enormous rear aerofoil – numerous features from motorsport give the Mercedes-AMG GT3 a decidedly dynamic appearance. At the same time it avoids any sign of unnecessary showmanship: all modifications to the body are in the interests of maximum downforce and aerodynamic efficiency, for best results on the racetrack. The specially incorporated features also improve the effective cooling of components subject to high thermal loads.

The new "Panamericana" radiator grille is particularly noticeable when viewed from the front. Its design with vertical chrome struts is reminiscent of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing sports car. In 1952 this won the famous "Carrera Panamericana" endurance race across Mexico. With this modern reinterpretation of a classic design, Mercedes-AMG is paying respectful homage to its illustrious racing antecedent. Its victories are both a powerful incentive and an obligation to strive for peak position once again. 

The three-dimensionally formed Panamericana radiator grille is more convex at the top than at the bottom – designers refer to these proportions as a "shark nose". It is particularly recognisable from the side, and gives the Mercedes-AMG GT3 a combative demeanour. The shape of the Panamericana radiator grille opens out downwards, suggesting the stylised "A" that is typical of the front end in AMG cars. The lower air inlet above the large front diffuser is likewise A-shaped. The carbon-fibre front diffuser transitions into a smooth underbody to produce hefty downforce together with the rear diffuser and rear aerofoil. Special cooling ducts in the front apron ensure efficient cooling of the front brakes, which are particularly subject to high thermal loads when racing.

To keep the vehicle weight as low as possible, the body is mainly of carbon-fibre: the bonnet, doors, front wings, front and rear aprons, side walls, side skirts, diffuser, boot lid and rear aerofoil are made from this particularly lightweight yet extremely strong material. As in the road going version, the vehicle structure of the GT3 consists of a likewise extremely lightweight yet rigid aluminium spaceframe. With numerous detailed improvements, systematic implementation of the "AMG Lightweight Performance" strategy has resulted in an even lower kerb weight than that of the SLS AMG GT3.

Flics mounted on the sides of the front apron generate downforce at the front axle, as do the so-called "louvres", the wheel arch air vents at the top of the front wings. On each side, the wider body compared with the standard version of the AMG GT3 creates space for the wide track of the double wishbone axles and 45.7 cm (18-inch) light-alloy wheels with centre locks. An air inlet on the left and right shoulders ahead of each rear wheel conducts the necessary cooling air to the transmission at the rear axle. The standardised connection for the fast-fuelling system is located in the C-pillar, where it is ergonomically ideal for the pit crew.

A large, central aperture in the bonnet has the appearance of a gaping mouth. Its purpose is to expel large volumes of air warmed by the cooling module. Behind the front wheels there are noticeable wheel arch air vents which likewise conduct away warm air. Air inlets ahead of the rear wheels assist cooling of the rear brakes. Directly in front of each one is an exhaust tailpipe – it is from these scarcely muffled "sidepipes" that the typical AMG eight- cylinder sound thunders. Music to the ears, not only of hard rock enthusiasts. Below the side skirts, the smooth underbody ensures an efficient airflow beneath the vehicle.

Extremely wide and sporting its large rear aerofoil, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 also cuts an impressive figure from the rear. Maximum downforce at the rear axle and high aerodynamic performance are ensured by the multiply adjustable rear aerofoil and the prominent diffuser. Large apertures in the rear apron expel the warm air from the rear wheels.

The AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine, with additional improvements for the new racing car, ensures the fulminating power already familiar from the SLS AMG GT3. Low operating costs, long service intervals, the user-friendly technology and, not least, the great reliability of this naturally aspirated, high-revving AMG engine were the reasons for staying with this concept for the customer sports segment. Dry sump lubrication obviates the need for an oil sump, allowing the V8 engine to be installed low down in the chassis and well behind the front axle.

As is usual for the standard production engines, the racing engine also has an AMG engine badge bearing the signature of the technician who assembled it: Production of the V8 engine is a manual operation following the traditional "one man, one engine" principle applied in the AMG engine shop in Affalterbach. Naturally these AMG engine specialists are particularly proud to be assembling engines that are used to compete on legendary race circuits.

The sequential six-speed racing transmission of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 is mounted at the rear axle (transaxle concept), and connected to the engine by a torsionally rigid torque tube. A drive shaft rotates at the engine speed inside the torque tube. Both components are of lightweight carbon-fibre. A multi-disc locking differential integrated into the transmission acts together with the adjustable traction control to ensure that the engine power is optimally transferred to the racetrack during acceleration. The driver shifts the six gears using two steering wheel shift paddles. Gearshifts are performed by pneumatic actuators which are likewise integrated into the transmission.

Like the road going version, the GT3 has a double wishbone suspension made almost completely of aluminium. This solution once again demonstrates how closely regular production and racing technology are linked at AMG. The same applies to the vehicle concept, with a low centre of gravity, perfect weight distribution, long wheelbase and wide track. This layout guarantees precise self-steering characteristics, high lateral acceleration, first-class agility, high traction and low inertia during fast changes in direction. On the different race circuits, all of these attributes give the driver the advantages necessary to achieve top placements.

For their individual, circuit-specific setup, customer teams are able to precisely set the springs and dampers, stabilisers, suspension height, track and camber. The servo-assisted, direct ratio rack-and-pinion steering likewise contributes to agile handling. The development team paid particular attention to the vehicle's predictable handling and good controllability at the critical limits. In these respects the SLS AMG GT3 has already scored top marks from racing drivers all over the world.

Neither did the AMG engineers accept any compromises when it came to the brakes: Good deceleration is ensured by a fade-resistant and very effective steel racing braking system with composite technology and adjustable racing ABS. Rapidly replaceable brake linings reduce idle time during endurance races. The pneumatic jacking system with four plungers integrated into the underbody allows fast pit stops and tyre-changes.

Functionality and safety are dominant features in the cockpit of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3. In addition to high passive safety standards, ergonomics was very high up in the list of development specifications. A clearly laid-out interior, ergonomic access to the controls and good ventilation to ease driver stress are very important aspects during sprints and endurance races.

The cockpit layout is basically the same as that of the road going sports car: the low, sloping dashboard resembles a powerful wing, and emphasises the width of the car. Numerous controls are arranged in the prominent centre console, whose shape is reminiscent of an NACA air intake, e.g. the main switch, the switch activating the ignition and the starter button for the V8 engine. A manual brake balance adjustment is located next to the rotary switch for traction control and ABS. Reverse gear and the fire extinguishing system can also be activated on the centre console.

The quick-release racing steering wheel eases access and egress. Like that of the pedal cluster, its position is adjustable within a wide range for rapid adaptation to different sizes of driver. As only the steering wheel and pedals are adjusted, but not the seat shell, the car's centre of gravity and therefore the wheel load distribution always remain the same. This safeguards the setup during endurance races, where up to four different drivers often take the wheel. It also ensures that each driver is seated in the safest position within the confines of the rollover cage. Ergonomically arranged shift paddles allow gear changes without the driver's hands leaving the wheel – a further safety aspect. The driver is able to activate the two-way radio, headlamp flasher or drink function using keys on the steering wheel. 

The central display is optimally positioned in the driver's field of vision. The so-called DDU (Digital Display Unit) provides all relevant information such as road speed, engine speed, operating temperatures, lap times, current gear and upshift indicator. A function key on the steering wheel is also used to switch between the information shown by the colour display.

The safety concept of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 translates the exemplary safety level of the road going GT to the racetrack. The development focus was on the greatest possible driver safety. One of the central elements of this philosophy is the carbon-fibre seat shell for the driver, which has a specially developed structure providing much greater protection than a conventional racing seat. The already well-proven concept of the SLS AMG GT3 was further optimised and adapted to the current FIA requirements. 

Thanks to its special shape, the safety cell bolted to the rollover cage and aluminium spaceframe provides a high level of protection for the driver's shoulders, pelvis and legs, and it is also compatible with the HANS system (Head and Neck Support). The HANS system helps to prevent serious head, neck and spinal injuries, and is mandatory in many race series. The seat shell is individually foam-padded for every driver, features a six-point seat belt with reinforced anchorage points and provides an outstanding level of occupant protection.

Additional protection is ensured by the rollover cage of high-strength steel, which is bolted to the aluminium spaceframe and helps to rigidify this even further. It too was optimised for easier access and egress by the driver. An escape hatch is integrated into the roof, so that the driver can be rapidly rescued in an emergency if e.g. no access is possible via the doors. For reasons of balance, the carbon-fibre safety fuel tank is located directly behind the passenger cell and features an inner sac of elastic rubber.

Production is in close cooperation between Mercedes-AMG GmbH and HWA AG, at the Affalterbach plant. A long-standing motor racing partner of Mercedes-Benz, HWA AG is one of the most successful teams in international motor sport: in total, the team won ten driver's titles (DTM and ITC) and three team titles for Mercedes-Benz and as such is the most successful team in the history of the DTM.

Mercedes-Benz will return to Mt Panorama from 4 – 7 February to provide the Official Safety Car for the 2016 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour. The Safety Car, a Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Sedan, is expected to make several appearances on the iconic roads of Australia’s most revered and intimidating circuit.

“Mercedes-Benz has a proud heritage at Mount Panorama and we’re excited to bring a strong presence back to the Bathurst 12 Hour” said Horst von Sanden, CEO and Managing Director, Mercedes-Benz Cars Australia/Pacific. “We’re thrilled to showcase the performance and safety of our vehicles at such an iconic event, and feel honoured to continue our provision of the Official Safety Car.”

Mercedes-Benz has an illustrious history of safety in the world’s premiere motorsport events. For 20 years the official Formula One safety car has been supplied by Mercedes-Benz, starting with a C 36 AMG in 1996. In 2016, the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S will provide maximum safety for the field at the Bathurst 12 Hour, and safely negotiaite the circuit when adverse weather conditions or incidents call for the Safety Car to be deployed.

The 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine of the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S generates a maximum output of 375 kW and peak torque of 700 Nm, accelerating from 0 - 100 km/h in just 4.0 seconds. Utilizing an extensive array of high-performance AMG equipment, including a ceramic brake system and electronic rear axle locking differential, the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S fuses outstanding driving dynamics and safety, with first-class quality materials and craftsmanship, to embody the pinnacle of sports performance.

The Bathurst Regional Council has completed the purchase of an 80-acre parcel of land that will be used for a second circuit alongside Mount Panorama. The deal was made between the local council and orchardist Lee Rayner. The council will take over an 80 acre block of land east of Mount Panorama circuit. While the price of the land hasn’t been officially disclosed, it is estimated to be a $4.5 million deal. The project is expected to cost around $50 million, with the council itself to tip in $662,000 from next year’s budget. In total the council is expected to pay $10 million, with another $40 million to ultimately come from state and federal funding.

“Some of the legalities of the contract for this parcel of land are still in the throws of being sorted out, but saying that, council is confident the sale will proceed following lengthy negotiations with the owners of the land,” Bathurst mayor Gary Rush told the Western Advocate. “The price is undisclosed, but it’s 80 acres and now [this] gives council 212 acres in that precinct to move forward with the second track. I think we will look back in decades to come at the magnitude of this deal in the push to bring the second track to fruition. The $15 million in next year’s budget is the main item in the $189 million management plan. We anticipate the settlement of this land deal to occur about the same time as the budget comes into force around the end of the month."

“This is huge for Bathurst, I can’t stress that enough.”

It’s not every day that you see a young driver calling his own shots but Sunday was such a day. Leading up to the final event of the testing weekend the defending Bathurst champion, Chaz Mostert, felt confident heading into the one-lap shootout. “I believe we have a pretty good race car and always have. That’s out biggest goal this year is to try and get a qualifying car,” Mostert explained. ““The SuperShootout is the main event so we will be working towards it to see if we can get up there.” Get up there he did by beating out a field of drivers who were bringing their A-game to this event. With a time of 1:30.658, Mostert took the new FG X to the top of the charts.

Shane van Gisbergen, arguably one of the most aggressive drivers in the series, is also one of the fastest. As he took to the track for his flying lap, the crowd was on the edge of their seats as he looked to hunt down Mostert’s time. As he crossed the line, however, he had just missed out by a mind blowing 0.008 seconds. James Courtney brought home third, followed by Mostert’s teammate, Mark Winterbottom. Between these four drivers, there was only a difference of just .05 seconds. Scott McLaughlin once again carried the Volvo up towards the front by posting the fifth quickest time. It was up to the six-time champion, Jamie Whincup, to pull an upset but he delivered a mediocre laptime to finish the event in 12th.

With Mostert taking the first pole position of 2015, he also brought home a handsome check for $2,500 as well as bragging rights for the time being. Completing the top-ten were James Moffat, Jason Bright, Craig Lowndes, Fabian Coulthard and Garth Tander.

Audi has achieved a thrilling podium finish at Mount Panorama, winning the Pro-am Class and narrowly missing out on the outright victory in an exciting Bathurst 12 Hour race yesterday. The 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour race has been decided in an extraordinary two lap sprint to the finish after a race that saw a record number of accidents and 20 safety car appearances throughout the day. In a race that nearly finished under safety car conditions, the final laps came down to a four-way sprint between the #15 Audi R8 LMS ultra, #35 Nissan, #10 Bentley and the #97 Craft Bamboo Aston Martin. Taking advantage of traffic and the final safety car, the Nissan managed to take the lead, crossing the line just 2.45 seconds ahead of the Audi R8 LMS ultra in a stunning finish.

The result gave Audi the Pro-am class victory and second overall in a race that didn’t lack for incident or excitement from the first lap to the last over the grueling 12 hours. The #15 Audi R8 LMS ultra entrant by Phoenix Racing, with its spectacular ‘Kangaroo’ livery, set the pace from the very beginning, with Markus Winkelhock racing away from the start and building a commanding lead early on. A blistering 2:03.3091 on lap 29 was the fastest racing lap ever achieved by a GT car at Bathurst and left no-one in any doubt as to the speed and commitment of the Phoenix Racing team.  But as on-track incidents began to mount in the large field, and the safety car became an all too familiar sight on the track, the lead changed constantly throughout the race.

The Audi R8 LMS ultra #16 Phoenix Racing entry of Felix Baumgartner, Christopher Haase and Stephane Ortelli climbed through the field to join the top five cars, ultimately finishing in ninth position to round out a strong performance for the race. The Audi R8 LMS ultra #9 Hallmarc / Network Clothing entry driver by Marc Cini, Mark Eddy and Christopher Mies was consistently quick throughout the day, and despite the heat and safety car conditions, ran a faultless race to cross the line just behind the Phoenix Racing #16 ‘Crocodile’ car, rounding out the Top 10.

Pos

Competitor/ Team

Drivers

Vehicle

Race Time

Fastest Lap Time

1

NISMO Athlete Global Team

F.Strauss/ K.Chiyo/ W.Reip

Nissan GT-R NISMO GT

12:00:11.0280

2:03.9769

2

Phoenix Racing

M.Mapelli/ L.Vanthoor/ M.Winkelhock

Audi R8-LMS Ultra 20

12:00:13.4809

2:03.3091R

3

Craft Bamboo Racing

D.O'Young/ A.MacDowall/ S.Mucke

Aston Martin Vantage

12:00:13.8296

2:04.4514

4

Bentley Team M-Sport

G.Smith/ S.Kane/ M.Bell

Bentley Continental

12:00:14.8101

2:05.1808

5

Erebus Motorsport

J.LeBrocq/ R.Muscat/ D.Canto

Mercedes SLS AMG GT3

12:00:14.9710

2:04.5607

6

Vicious Rumour Racing

B.Simonsen/ A.Montermini/ R.Loberto

Ferrari F458 Italia

12:00:14.7389

2:05.5603

7

JBS Australia

R.Lago/ D.Russell/ S.Owen

Lamborghini Gallardo

12:00:15.8879

2:04.8101

8

Clearwater Racing

WS Mok/ T.Vilander/ M.Griffin

Ferrari F458 Italia

12:00:17.9999

2:04.8706

9

Phoenix Racing

F.Baumgartner/ C.Haase/ S.Ortelli

Audi R8-LMS Ultra 20

12:00:22.7640

2:05.0164

10

Hallmarc / Network Clothing

M.Cini/ M.Eddy/ C.Mies

Audi R8-LMS Ultra 20

12:00:20.6153

2:05.0948

The Nissan GT-R has taken another significant victory at Mount Panorama after scoring a dramatic victory in the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour. After a race full of drama, crashes and Safety Cars, Japanese star Katsumasa Chiyo passed two cars on the penultimate lap to secure a remarkable win for the NISMO Athlete Global Team. The victory for Chiyo and GT Academy winners Wolfgang Reip and Florian Strauss is the first time that the Nissan GT-R has won at Mount Panorama since the GT-R took back-to-back Bathurst 1000 wins in 1991 and 1992. The crowd at the top of the Mount Panorama roared as Chiyo put the Nissan into the lead, a fairytale story after the car was damaged in a qualifying crash on Saturday, with repairs to the #35 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 only completed at 4:30am local time on Sunday morning. Strauss was especially ecstatic to take victory, as he was a late recruit to the event when Alex Buncombe was unable to attend the event due to the birth of his first child. Strauss has only been a racing driver for 18 months following his win in GT Academy in 2013.

QUOTES

Katsumasa Chiyo:
“It is just unbelievable because I couldn’t imagine that end of the race, with a strong Audi and Bentley and we are still in the amateur class,” said Chiyo. “The car is very good, it is very strong on the straight. I tried to imagine, it was just amazing, we couldn’t know what would happen in this race, but we just tried our best in the moment and then I had a chance in the final restart. It was just awesome. The car was amazing, and so was the team.”

Wolfgang Reip:
“Yes it was very stressful (watching the final laps), I couldn’t keep calm,” said Reip. “It is incredible, our first win for the last two years we have been racing, so really a lot of emotions. I took the start this morning, at the beginning of the stint I was following the Audi and then I started to save the car because we knew we had to do it to reach (the window). It was pretty long, a two hour forty minute stint and then Chiyo did a three hour stint, so it was quite long, but very exciting. “My second stint went pretty well, there were a lot of safety cars but I could reach the pit in time. It was very stressful as we had a strategy and then with the Safety Cars we did not know what would happen – we didn’t really expect any more to win, but the last ten minutes was incredible. The car was very good here, it is definitely a track that suits us. It was a good race.”

Florian Strauss:
“It is just awesome, still unbelievable,” said Strauss. “I am very lucky that we have won, no one can say what would you have achieved with Alex, we couldn’t have achieved a better result. The team did an amazing job all weekend, Chiyo put the car in first place, the team put all the effort in to get the car ready in the morning. “The car gave me a lot of confidence, I got up to speed quite well I guess, not too far away from my team mates. My stint was amazing, a bit long and a lot of Safety Cars. Disappointingly, half way from the end of the race we were in third place, but Chiyo put the hammer down at the end and we achieved a good result, and it’s awesome for Nissan.”

Darren Cox – Global Head of Marketing, Sales and Brand, NISMO:
“This is a truly historic result for Nissan,” said Cox. “It is another great chapter in the history of NISMO and the legendary GT-R. I am proud of the teamwork from a global group of committed Nissan and NISMO racers in the car, garage and behind the scenes keeping the fans up to date. The news will reverberate from Australia to Japan and into Europe especially Belgium, Germany and the UK.”

Richard Emery – Managing Director and CEO, Nissan Motor Co Australia:
“It was a crazy day, it was an amazing outcome,” said Emery. “The team worked hard to get the car right for today, and they’ve got the fruits of their hard work. “This race is part of Nissan’s global program, and it is important for Australia to be part of that. You’ve got unique and innovative programs with the way the drivers come through the GT Academy system, and GT-R has always been known for its innovation, and in a few months time, we’ll be going to Le Mans with an innovative car. “It’s really great that our program is part of the global effort.”

After winning the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2012, Phoenix Racing will fight for the third Audi victory in the iconic Australian race, alongside five local R8 LMS ultra entries. The predominantly black #15A ‚Kangaroo‘ car is reminiscent of the victorious Phoenix Racing entry in 2012, then driven by Christopher Mies, Darryl O’Young and Christer Jons.

In 2015, the ‘Kangaroo’ car will be driven by 2014 Blancpain endurance series champion Laurens Vanthoor (B), alongside another multiple GT3 race-winner for Audi, Markus Winkelhock (D) and Italian GT rising star Marco Mapelli. Vanthoor steps in to replace Rene Rast, who will drive instead an Audi R18 e-tron quattro in the 2015 WEC championship.

The #16A ‘Crocodile’ car is reminiscent of the victorious Audi R8 that won the final round of the 2000 ALMS series in a special race in Adelaide, Australia on December 31, known as ‘The Race of a Thousand Years’. Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello were the victors in that occasion, but in 2015, there will be a very different line-up behind the wheel.

Extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner (A) will be making his debut at Bathurst, following an impressive top-ten finish in the 2014 Nurburgring 24 Hours. Alongside him will be another multiple GT3 race-winner for Audi, Christopher Haase, and newcomer Stephane Ortelli (MC).

Nissan has confirmed that Alex Buncombe, Katsumasa Chiyo and Wolfgang Reip will return to Mount Panorama for the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour race, driving for its NISMO Athlete Global Team. The trio will line-up in the #35 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 as the team seeks to build on the speed and potential shown at last year’s edition of the endurance event where Buncombe, Chiyo and Reip were joined by Nissan Motorsport V8 Supercar driver Rick Kelly in the team’s driver line-up. The 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour is one of the first events in an enormous year of motorsport for Nissan, with participation in top categories across the globe. 2014, also the 30th anniversary of NISMO, saw the manufacturer score 42 wins and 82 podiums globally, including championship victory for the factory NISMO team in the Super GT Championship with Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda in the #23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500).

Last year’s Bathurst 12 Hour was the first time a factory-entered Nissan GT-R had raced at Bathurst since Mark Skaife and Jim Richards scored back-to-back Bathurst 1000 victories in 1991 and 1992.
Despite being the first attempt at the Bathurst 12 Hour, the strength and speed of both team and car was clear throughout the event, with the NISMO Athlete Global Team qualifying in fifth position in a quality field. After a solid start to the race, the car was unfortunately withdrawn after sustaining heavy damage in an incident at McPhillamy Park in the third hour of the race on lap 59.

Buncombe, the longest serving NISMO Athlete in Nissan’s global GT3 program that is also the training ground for Nissan GT Academy graduates, will be making his third Bathurst start in 12 months, having also teamed up with Todd Kelly in the Nissan Motorsport V8 Supercar team at last year’s Bathurst 1000. Buncombe also partnered Kelly at the Sandown 500 and Gold Coast 600 endurance events in 2014.

Chiyo returns to Mount Panorama with a wealth of new experience, having been based in Europe for most of 2014 as part of the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN squad in the Blancpain Endurance Series by virtue of the NISMO Global Driver Exchange program. Chiyo raced the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in major GT events such as the Nürburgring 24 Hours, Spa 24 Hours, Bathurst 12 Hour and Macau GT Cup. Chiyo is one of the young rising stars of Japanese motorsport, winning the Japanese Formula 3 Championship N Class title in 2011.
Reip, the 2012 Nissan GT Academy Europe winner, who enters only his third year of motorsport in 2015, is one of the shining examples of Nissan’s gamer-to-racer mantra. Despite having no motorsport experience just three years ago, the Belgian driver’s CV already includes feats such as driving the first fully-electric lap of Le Mans and second place at the 2014 British GT Championship event at his home circuit of Spa-Franchorchamps. The 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour will be held at the Mount Panorama circuit on 6-8 February 2015. Check YouTube for video content from the event and follow on Facebook at NISMO Australia.

Quotes

Alex Buncombe:
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to Bathurst. I feel we have some unfinished business there as we never got to show the full potential of the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in 2014,” said Buncombe.
“The circuit is simply amazing, like no other. You have to treat it with the upmost respect. My V8 Supercar experience from last year will put me in a better position this time so I can't wait to get back behind the wheel, especially as the flowing corners and long straights at Mount Panorama are just what the GT-R loves.
“The atmosphere at Mount Panorama is spectacular with the most enthusiastic fans I know. We showed very well last year in the running we had so my expectations are high - I would love to walk away with a podium.”

Katsumasa Chiyo:
“I’m really pleased to come back to the Bathurst 12 Hour race because last year our first challenge ended after only a couple of hours due to the big accident in my stint,” said Chiyo.
“I felt so sorry for the team. That’s why I’m really looking forward to racing again at Bathurst for the revenge.
“Unlike last year, I feel very confident because this isn’t my first time and I’ve learned a lot from last year. In addition, my team-mates Alex and ‘Wolfie’ are very trustable, we have good relationships and our team, NISMO Athlete Global Team, is very professional and reliable. But the only thing I’m sad about is that Rick can’t join this year due to a schedule clash.
“This event has many accidents during the race every year, so I think.it is one of the most difficult races. We definitely must drive carefully all the time, because we can’t know what will happen until the last second and we must be careful about kangaroos as well.
“Finally, I will do my best until finishing the race with all of the team for all our fans!”

Wolfgang Reip:
“Mount Panorama is one of the most magnificent tracks I have seen! It’s very difficult mentally; I would say it is as hard as the Nordschleife. I have raced on both and I would say that although Bathurst is shorter it is just as challenging,” said Reip.
“Racing at Bathurst as a European is a great feeling because not that many drivers get an opportunity like this during their career. It’s a privilege to be given that opportunity for the second time in a row alongside Alex and Chiyo.
“My expectations are always high for this event. We have a strong close-knit line-up and we can all push hard from the start. For sure it will be tough, due to the track itself and the amount of traffic we have to deal with but last year we were running in the Top 5 when the crash happened so we can expect at least as good as that. Let’s aim for a podium and we will see after 11 of the 12 hours where we are!”

Darren Cox - Global Head of Brand, Marketing & Sales, NISMO:
“It’s true that we have unfinished business at Mount Panorama,” said Cox.
“We want a good result in this historic event and we have a great team of people in place to make sure we meet our own high standards. It was important for us to give Al, Chiyo and Wolfie another shot at the Mountain and I think together they will get the best out of the GT-R.”