BMW set for six-car Bathurst assault
BMW teams will be eyeing both outright and class success at this year's Bathurst 12 Hour, with two factory-backed BMW M6 GT3s and four brand new BMW M4 GT4s signed up for this week's once-round-the-clock race.
The BMW M6 GT3 made a splash on debut at Mount Panorama last year, with three cars making the Top 10 Shootout and two ultimately qualifying within the top three.
While front-running pace didn't yield a result on race day, both of the BMW M6 GT3s entered this year – one from the Australian-based BMW Team SRM squad and one from famous German outfit BMW Team Schnitzer – will head to Bathurst as genuine contenders for outright honours.
The exciting new BMW M4 GT4 will also make its Bathurst debut, with four entries in Class C. One will be run by BMW Team SRM, along with privateer entries from US-based RHC-Lawrence/Strom, Kiwis Baigent Motorsport and Bathurst champion Tony Longhurst’s Boat Works Racing.
BMW Team Schnitzer - #43 BMW M6 GT3
Schnitzer Motorsport is one of the most famous BMW racing teams on the planet.
The Munich-based squad has been racing and tuning BMWs since the mid-1960s, and has since racked up titles in the European Touring Car Championship World Touring Car Championship and the DTM. Also on the CV are wins at famous endurance events, such as the Spa 24, the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
This year the squad returns to Bathurst for the first time since the 1987 WTCC season, primed with a BMW M6 GT3 and a driver line-up capable of taking outright honours.
Mostert made a splash at last year's Bathurst 12 Hour in a privately-run BMW M6 GT3, when he qualified on the front row and led the race’s early stages.
He's since been drafted into the BMW family, making factory-supported appearances in an AAI Motorsports M6 GT3 at Asian Le Mans Series rounds in China and Japan, as well the FIA GT World Cup in Macau.
The Queenslander is one of the hottest talents in the competitive Australian Supercars field, and knows how to win at Mount Panorama after taking a stunning victory at the Bathurst 1000 in 2014.
Marco Wittmann is a testament to BMW’s talent-spotting prowess. The German cut his teeth in Formula BMW, before being drafted into BMW’s GT programme in 2012. Wittmann was then promoted to the expanded DTM line-up for the 2013 season, before dominating the 2014 season to win his first title. He proved it was no fluke by winning a second DTM title in 2016, aboard the BMW M4 DTM.
Wittmann brings both experience with the M6 GT3 and some handy Bathurst knowledge to the table; at last year's Bathurst 12 Hour he was paired with Richards and Mark Winterbottom in the SRM entry, qualifying a very impressive third.
The Brazilian ace has a long-standing relationship with BMW, having joined the brand's World Touring Car Championship campaign back in 2007 and winning 10 races over four seasons.
When BMW returned to the highly-competitive DTM in 2012 Farfus was shifted into the programme, and now has four race wins to his name in the German series.
While he's a Bathurst rookie, Farfus is no stranger to long-distance success, having finished second at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2015.
BMW Team SRM - #100 BMW M6 GT3
Local know-how paired with European flair; that's the motto behind BMW Team SRM's driver line-up for this year's Bathurst 12 Hour.
The factory-backed crew, which fields its BMW M6 GT3 in the Australian GT Championship, boasts an enviable roster consisting of Bathurst legend Steve Richards, ex-Formula 1 star Timo Glock, and BMW GT specialist Philipp Eng as it goes on the hunt for an outright win.
With four Bathurst 1000 wins under his belt, Steve Richards is one of Australia’s top drivers. The second-generation racer is a nine-time race winner in the Australian Touring Car/Supercars championships, a Carrera Cup champion, and now team boss and lead driver of BMW Team SRM.
The Richards name has a long history with BMW. Steve’s father Jim Richards won the ATCC title in a BMW 635 CSi back in 1985, and then won a second in a BMW M3 two seasons later.
Now Steve Richards will look to make his own entry into the BMW Motorsport history books, by adding the Bathurst 12 Hour to a resume that already boasts four Bathurst 1000 wins and a Bathurst 24 Hour title.
Former F1 star Timo Glock is back for a second crack at the Bathurst 12 Hour. Last year he was paired with Mark Skaife, Russell Ingall, and Tony Longhurst in the all-star 'Bathurst Legends' entry, impressing across the weekend with front-running speed.
While he now plies his trade for BMW in the DTM, Glock is best known for an enduring stint in Formula 1. The German made his F1 debut for Jordan midway through the 2004 season at the Canadian GP, where he scored points. After a brief stint in America he returned to F1 as a factory Toyota driver for the 2008 and 2009 seasons, finishing 10th in the World Championship both years. For 2010 he switched to start-up team Marussia Virgin, staying there until the end of the 2012 season before switching to the DTM as a BMW factory driver.
Austrian Philipp Eng's winning pedigree with BMW stretches right back to 2007, when he won the Formula BMW World Final for Mücke Motorsport.
After a successful stint in one-make series – which yielded two titles in the competitive German Carrera Cup series and one in the Porsche Supercup – Eng returned to the BMW fold in 2016 with a Blancpain drive for Rowe Racing. He was quickly part of the first major triumph for the BMW M6 GT3, with Eng, Maxime Martin, and Alexander Sims winning the prestigious Spa 24.
Eng is also a race winner for BMW in the ADAC GT Masters series, and has been promoted to BMW's DTM line-up for the 2018 season
Class C Entries
RHC Lawrence-Strom - #13 BMW M4 GT4
RHC Lawrence-Strom will make the long trek from the US to Bathurst, less than a week after competing at BMW Endurance Challenge in Daytona. Thanks to some help from the MARC GT squad in Australia, the Thermal, California, based team will back up the opening IMSA round by running a brand new BMW M4 GT4 at the Bathurst 12 Hour just days later.
Drivers Daren Jorgensen and Cameron Lawrence will be on double duties between the two races, and joined by Brett Strom and Kuno Wittmer for Bathurst.
Jorgensen heads to Bathurst off the back of a busy 2017 that included more than 30 club races and 20 wins across a number of different classes. He also competed in the Pirelli World Challenge TC class in a BMW M235i Racing, and finished fourth in the GT4 class at the California 8 Hours.
Florida-born Lawrence burst onto the US racing scene in the 2011 in the SCCA Trans-Am Series, winning two consecutive TA2 titles in 2013 and 2014 before going within a handful of points of making it a hat trick in 2015. Not that he finished that season empty-handed; a switch to the United Sportscar Championship yielded a GTD class win at the 24 Hours of Daytona, before he went on to win the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship North American Endurance Cup in the GTD class.
GT racing professional Wittmer arrives in Bathurst after a two-year stint with the famous BMW Team RLL squad, racing the M6 in the IMSA GTLM category. He capped off his time with the team in perfect fashion, winning the GTLM class at the Petit Le Mans alongside Alexander Sims and Bill Auberlen last November. The Canadian is also a former IMSA GTLM champion, having won the class while driving for the SRT Dodge team back in 2014.
Brett Strom, whose Strom Motorsports business in California specialises in building, tuning and running BMW racing cars, completes the line-up.
Baigent Motorsport - #15 BMW M4 GT4
For well-known New Zealand driver Kent Baigent, the Bathurst 12 Hour marks a return to Mount Panorama.
The 69-year-old competed at the Bathurst 1000 as a privateer a number of times in the mid-1980s, including an appearance in a BMW 635 CSi in 1985 which saw Baigent and Neal Lowe finish a credible fifth. These days he races a BMW M3 GTR in New Zealand.
Baigent will be joined at Bathurst by Neil Allport, an icon of New Zealand rallying. Allport has competed in national and international rallies in all manners of top-flight machinery, and has three national rallying titles to his name.
V8 Utes star Matt Spratt will also be in the Baigent BMW M4 GT4, along with 2016 New Zealand Toyota 86 Champion Ash Blewett. Both of the young drivers bring Bathurst experience, with Spratt having won a race in the Ute at Mount Panorama last October, while Blewett impressed on debut in the Australian 86 Series.
Boat Works Racing - #30 BMW M4 GT4
Tony Longhurst is a genuine legend when it comes to Australian Touring Car racing from the 1980s, ‘90s, and early 2000s – and brings a proper BMW pedigree to the Bathurst grid.
Longhurst made his ATCC debut in a BMW 635 CSi back in 1985, continuing to campaign BMWs in the ATCC and the Super Touring series until 1994 – the year he won the Australian Super Touring Championship in a BMW 318i.
Longhurst is also a two-time Bathurst 1000 winner, winning The Great Race alongside Tomas Mezera in 1988 and again with Skaife in 2001, before adding the Bathurst 12 Hour to his CV with victory in 2009.
Having campaigned an M6 GT3 at the 12 Hour last year, Longhurst has elected to run alongside some young talent in a BMW M4 GT4 this time around.
He'll be joined in the Boat Works BMW by two third-generation stars, Aaron Seton and Matt Brabham.
Seton is the son of Australian Touring Car hero Glenn Seton, a man famous for never having won the Bathurst 1000 despite his successful ATCC/Supercars career. His father – and Aaron's grandfather – Bo Seton won The Great Race back in 1965.
Brabham, meanwhile, is the grandson of Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jack Brabham, and son of Geoff Brabham, who won the 1997 Bathurst 1000 with his brother David in a factory BMW 320i.
BMW Team SRM - #44 BMW M4 GT4
Parallel to its M6 GT3 programme, BMW Team SRM will debut its M4 GT4 at the Bathurst 12 Hour.
Leading the driver line-up is exciting young talent Cameron Hill. The Canberran burst onto the Australian motor racing scene back in 2015 when he won the ultra-competitive Australian Formula Ford Series as a privateer. He then switched to the then-new Toyota 86 Racing Series in 2016, becoming the series’ most successful driver over two seasons in terms of wins and pole positions. In fact, he locked out every pole position on offer across the 2017 season.
Hill has now been given the opportunity of a lifetime to team up with BMW Team SRM for the Bathurst 12 Hour.
He'll be joined by a pair of very experienced amateur racers in Dean Grant and Xavier West, who combined to win Class B at last year's Bathurst 12 Hour in a Carrera Cup car run by Steve Richards Motorsport.
Grant is also a two-time Tag Heuer Challenge winner in Carrera Cup, while West has competed in Carrera Cup and the Australian GT Trophy Series.
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