Australia’s premiere endurance racing event, the Bathurst 12 hour is on this week. The 2017 race will feature four BMW M6 GT3s, the first time for BMW at Mount Panorama circuit later this week, as BMW tackles the Bathurst 12 Hour for the first time.
This amazing piece of engineering features a 4.4L V8 Twin Turbo that’s good for around 585HP.
BMW has form at the mountain, with BMW Motorsport Australia winning the Bathurst 1000 some 20 years ago. This year the 4 BMWs will be piloted by some of the current and previous crop of Supercars superstars.
BMW Team SRM #60
Five Bathurst 1000 wins, two DTM titles, and a Supercars championship – that’s how seriously BMW Team SRM is taking its return to Mount Panorama.
BMW Team SRM will kickstart its second season of competition by leading the BMW M6 GT3 charge at Mount Panorama, the #60 car locking down an enviable driver line-up as it looks to take outright honours. The team’s owner/driver, Australian racing royalty Steve Richards, will be joined by Supercars star Mark Winterbottom and two-time DTM champion Marco Wittmann.
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 Championships/Supercars, a Carrera Cup champion, and the 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.
The man known as ‘Frosty’ is a current star of the Supercars series. The Prodrive Racing Australia driver broke through for a maiden Supercars title in 2015, toppling long-time rival Jamie Whincup. He also has a Bathurst 1000 win to his name, taking out the Great Race in 2014 alongside Steve Richards. The 2017 Bathurst 12 Hour will be Winterbottom’s GT3 debut.
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 program 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. Wittmann has extensive experience with the BMW M6 GT3 too, having campaigned it at the 24-hour races at Daytona and the Nurburgring.
BMW Team SRM #7
It’s been dubbed a ‘Bathurst Legends’ entry, and with 10 Bathurst 1000 wins shared across the four drivers the #7 BMW M6 GT3 is set to be the crowd favourite at Mount Panorama this year.
The all-star line-up features Australian motorsport legend Mark Skaife, 2005 Supercars champion Russell Ingall, two-time Bathurst 1000 winner Tony Longhurst, and former Formula 1 star Timo Glock.
The Skaife and Ingall dynamic is a particularly interesting one, given the bitter rivalry that has existed between the pair since their infamous on-track spat at Eastern Creek in 2003.
Skaife’s name is synonymous with Australian Touring Car racing. He has won five ATCC/Supercars titles, and six Bathurst 1000s. Now a Fox Sports commentator, Skaife will make a comeback to the driver’s seat in a bid to add another Bathurst triumph to his enviable list of achievements.
‘The Enforcer’ is one of the more divisive characters in Australian motorsport. During his 19-year stint as a full-time Supercars driver he forged a reputation as a ruthless racer, racking up a championship (2005) and two Bathurst 1000 titles (1995 and 1997) along the way. The no-nonsense star is still an active Supercars driver, having raced in the three endurance races last season.
Tony Longhurst is a genuine star of Australian Touring Car racing from the 1980s, ‘90s, and early 2000s – and he joins BMW Team SRM with a strong BMW pedigree. 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 a two-time Bathurst 1000 winner too, winning The Great Race alongside Tomas Mezera in 1988 and again with Skaife in 2001. He’s the sole Bathurst 12 Hour winner in the line-up too, having won the event in 2009.
Capping off this impressive line-up is former Formula 1 star Timo Glock. The German made his Formula 1 debut for Jordan midway through the 2004 season, scoring points on debut at the Canadian Grand Prix. After a brief stint in America he returned to Formula 1 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.
Glock then switched to the DTM, signing on as a BMW factory driver for the 2013 season. He has since won two races.
Walkenhorst Motorsport #99
German-based squad Walkenhorst Motorsport will bolster BMW’s Bathurst 12 Hour attack by making the long journey from Europe to Australia for the 2017 race. Walkenhorst will run a BMW M6 GT3 as part of BMW Motorsport’s junior development program, with experienced works driver Jörg Muller to be joined by promising young drivers Ricky Collard and Nico Menzel.
Leading the Walkenhorst effort will be long-time works driver Jörg Müller. The Holland-born German has an association with BMW that goes all the way back to the mid-1990s, and has seen him race an assortment of BMW racing cars in Super Touring, the American Le Mans Series (which he won in 2001), both the European and World Touring Car Championships, Super GT, and at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Son of British Touring Car Champion Rob Collard, Ricky Collard was named as part of BMW Motorsport’s junior program ahead of the 2016 season. With an impressive record in karting and single-seater racing, the 20-year-old Briton will make his Bathurst debut, hot on the heels of finishing the 24 Hours of Dubai alongside Müller in a BMW M4 GT4 prototype.
Like Collard, Nico Menzel is a second-generation racer. His father Christian Menzel won the Nürburgring 24 in 1998 in a BMW 320d, before going on to have a long career in sportscars. Nico Menzel cut his teeth in Formula BMW and ADAC Formula Masters, and heads to Bathurst as the reigning Carrera Cup Asia champion.
MARC GT #90
MARC is no stranger to the Bathurst 12 Hour. The Queensland-based team has enjoyed remarkable success running its own V8-powered racers in the Invitational class, and will look to carry that success over to the GT3 class this year. The Bathurst entry comes off the back of a partial Australian GT program in 2016, and an impressive test at Mount Panorama last November.
Chaz Mostert is one of the hottest young talents in Australian motorsport. He is teamed at Prodrive Racing Australia with Winterbottom in the Supercars category, and was on course to challenge his teammate for the 2015 Supercars title before a season-ending crash during qualifying for the Bathurst 1000. He made his Mount Panorama comeback at last year’s Bathurst 6 Hour, winning alongside Nathan Morcom in a BMW 335i.
With a background in the Supercars development series and the Australian GT Championship, young North Queenslander Morgan Haber switched to the BMW M6 GT3 ahead of the 2016 AGT season. He teamed up with BMW factory driver Bruno Spengler for the Phillip Island 101, before taking the M6 GT3 to race at the Super GT round in Thailand later in the year. He heads to the Bathurst 12 Hour as a reigning class winner, having taken out the Invitational class last year.
Max Twigg is one of the most decorated amateur drivers in Australia. He’s a three-time winner of the Carrera Challenge class in Australian Carrera Cup competition, having won 13 rounds and 46 races along the way. He has recent experience in a BMW M6 GT3 too, having joined Steve Richards in the BMW Team SRM entry for the Australian GT season in 2016.
The Bathurst 12 Hour commences with practice sessions on Friday 3 February, followed by qualifying and Top Ten Shootout on Saturday. The race commences at 5.45am Sunday. To watch live you have a couple of choices..
Watch on TV
The entire 2017 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour will be broadcast across Australia live on 7Mate. The inaugural Bathurst 12 Hour Top Ten Shootout will also be broadcast live on 7Mate.
|Saturday 4th February||Top Ten Shootout||3.30pm-4.30pm|
|Sunday 5th February||Race||5:30am-6.00pm|
Head over to this page during the event weekend to access free live streaming of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour from within Australia, including qualifying and support categories. You can also stream the Top Ten Shootout and Race via 7Live.