Enthusiast's Guide to The 2014 Bathurst 12-Hour Race


We are living in a golden age of GT sports car racing. People may scoff at that sentence, saying that the IMSA GTO/GTU era was better, or perhaps the sixties with Ford vs. Ferrari, then Porsche vs. Ferrari at Le Mans, or some will even state that the golden era was inhabited by the silhouettes and prototypes of the 1990s. While I will agree that those periods were absolutely epic, with the passage of time, I believe we’ll have the perspective to announce the current crop of FIA GT3 cars as among the best racing that has ever occurred, and 2014 is shaping up to be the worldwide breakout year for it. One only has to look as far back as the 24 hours of Daytona to see some excellent (albeit slightly modified) GT3 racing. There are GT3 cars available for sale from Aston Martin, Bentley, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes AMG, Nissan, Porsche, Ginetta, SRT, and even Callaway (soon). The remainder of the North American Endurance Championship GTD class should shake out pretty well, and when you add in all of the Creventic 24h series races, the Stephane Ratel promoted Blancpain Endurance and Sprint series, plus one-off events like the Nurburgring 24, the Spa 24, and this weekend’s Bathurst 12 hour, we’re living in the best time for GT sports car racing.

Bathurst, for a lot of us, is equated more with the 1000 km event for the Australian V8 Supercars, which is responsible for a lot of the circuit’s legendary status. Since the early 1990s, however, the circuit has played host to a 12 hour event for sports cars, too. Initially, the race was for production sports cars, but as of 2011, the rules were updated to include FIA GT3 and GT4 class competitors as well, and this year, the race is absolutely flush with them. International teams have come from across the globe to converge on the hill in the Australian countryside, including Germany’s Phoenix Racing Audi, and HTP Motorsport Mercedes, AF Corse’s Ferraris out of Italy, and Anglo-Americans in the form of United Autosport’s Audi. NISMO will be bringing a GT-R GT3, and Erebus Motorsport is toting over a pair of Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 to attempt the overall victory. Even Hooniverse favorite Brighty will be showing up to compete in a Audi R8 LMS Ultra #5.


If you need anything to get you pumped up for the race, try this promotional video on for size.

Class A – GT3 Outright


Due to all of these amazing entries, finding a clear favorite to win overall is nigh on impossible. There are a handful of different classes with the GT3 Outright cars (Class A) being the quickest. The Class A drivers assembled are among the best of the best in international GT racing, featuring the likes of Marcus Winkelhock, Harold Primat, Bernd Schneider, Michele Rugolo, and René Rast. That isn’t even to mention the V8 Supercars drivers. In addition to Jason Bright, Rick Kelly, Craig Lowndes, and Will Davison will also be competing in Class A machinery.

In previous years, qualifying was determined by amassing the best laps of three drivers from each team. Previously, Alan Simonsen made himself known on the mountain for being a single-lap legend in qualifying, holding the lap record from 2012, and then re-breaking the record last February. In honor of his tragic passing at Le Mans last year, qualifying has been changed to a “fastest lap goes first” format, and the Simonsen name will now grace the pole winner’s trophy. Three qualifying sessions will be offered on Saturday, with one hour being run in the morning, a second hour at 1:30PM in the heat of the afternoon, and a third 15 minute shootout reserved only for the Class A cars taking place in the cool of the late evening. It’s sure to be an exciting session, regardless.

My money’s on – Phoenix Racing’s Audi R8, but this is truly anyone’s game. Also keep an eye on the purple #1 SLS AMG.

Class B – GT3

The Class B cars are also FIA GT3 based, but are limited to cars at least one season old (2012 and older). The class of 13 cars is packed to the gills with 10 Porsche GT3 Cup cars, plus a pair of 2011 R8 LMS, and a single 2008 Lamborghini Gallardo. While these cars are not expected to be quick enough to fight for the overall lead, it wouldn’t take much attrition to get a couple of them into the top 5 overall. The cars are slower, but not by leaps and bounds, and when you add in the number of quality drivers in these relatively older GT cars, it will make for some interesting on-track action.

Names like Alex Davidson, Patrick Long, Oliver Gavin, Rob Huff, Steve Owen and even Eric Bana will grace the roofs of Class B racers, and each one a legendary driver in their own right. Bana has a lot of experience on the mountain, and has previously raced the Bathurst 12 Hours in a production class car. It’ll be a tough time for him, however, as the Gallardo has not proven to be an extremely reliable platform in endurance racing. Rotek Racing (Who I recently watched run to victory at the 25 hours of Thunderhill) will be bringing an R8 LMS with Gavin, Huff, Richard Meins, and Kevin Gleason as driving talent, and they are expected to do quite well. Another top contender in Class B is the Competition Motorsports Porsche 997 GT3 Cup (ex-ALMS GTC) car of David Calvert-Jones, Alex Davison, and Patrick Long.

My money’s on – The Competition Motorsports Porsche. As good as Rotek are, Patrick Long is an absolute machine.


Class C – GT4

The Class C GT4 field is quite small, with only a pair of Lotus racers, one Exige Cup R, and one Exige S, accompanied by a single Ginetta G50 GT4. The Motionsport Exige S gave a very good showing last year, and this year they’ve hired BTCC driver Gordon Shedden as a last minute inclusion. In 2013, the Donut King team brought a Nissan GT-R, and were handily beaten by Motionsport, so this year, they’ve pulled out all of the stops and joined them at their own Lotus game with an Exige Cup R. The Ginetta is a very good GT4 competitor, and the Spray Booth Services car should be well prepared to fight.

My money’s on – The Motionsport Exige S.


Class D – Invitational (3001cc+)

The Class D invitational class is the fastest of the production based racers. A pair of Seat Leon Supercopas, and an aging E46 M3 GTR are about as close to racers as you can get while still being production based. The trio of bespoke racers disguised as production cars are joined by a Subaru WRX Sti, a be-winged Daytona Sportscar Coupe, and a further pair of BMWs in the form of a 335i, and an E92 M3.

My money’s on – The Motorsport Services Seat Leon Supercopa. They won last year, and if they can keep their nose clean again, it’s a good bet to make.

Class F – Invitational (Up to 3000cc)

The Class F cars are a trio of Fiat Abarth 500s, as driven by an amalgam of pro racers, journo-types, and Fiat marketing staff. The drivers expect times in the 2:35 range, while the Class A cars are expecting qualifying to drop as low as 2:03 this year. It is yet to be seen whether the Fiat trio can post lap times fast enough to qualify for the race. If they do qualify, will they simply be rolling chicanes for the faster cars?

My money’s on – Only 2 of the cars qualifying, with the slowest of the three being outside the minimum lap time.


Class I – Invitational (Non-Production)

The Class I cars are a bit interesting. A threesome of PACE Innovations Ford Focus GTC (Global Touring Car) were invited to compete. The GTC was created for the motorsport-crazy Australian and South African markets. The cars feature custom aluminum chassis with 500 horsepower V8s up front, sequential manual gearboxes in the middle, and a drive axle out back, making them the relatively inexpensive cousin of JGTC, DTM, or V8 Supercars. They are being evaluated for inclusion in other series, or perhaps a one-make series in Australia based on their performance in this race.

My money’s on – These cars sounding great, looking a little wonky, and the drivers just pounding out laps trying not to break things.


How To Watch

As an amazing show of gratitude for their existing fans, as well as an attempt at drawing a larger international audience, the LiquiMoly Bathurst 12 Hour will be live streamed (the whole thing) on the race website, in a free-to-air, non-geoblocked program. Live race commentary will be provided by the Radio Le Mans guys, who will also have audio commentary for every on-track session leading up to the race.

For further live updates, follow the race on Twitter using the official hashtag #B12hr and the official twitter feed @Bathurst12hour.

Complete event entry list available here.

The race begins this Saturday, February 8th at 2:15 PM EST/11:15 AM PST, which translates to a 6:15 AM local time drop of the green flag.

All photographs are provided either by their individual teams, or by Bathurst12Hour.com.au.

Bradley C. Brownell is an Editor with Hooniverse.com, but he also contributes to his own site “BavarianDrive“. Head over there for more of his work.

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