Bana to make Bathurst debut and Denyer making his racing return

Some of the biggest names in Australian motorsport are set to line up for the WPS Bathurst 12 Hour Showroom Enduro at Mount Panorama next month.

A total of 49 entries have been received for the February 20 -- 22 Event with former Bathurst Champions Russell Ingall, John Bowe, Tony Longurst, Peter McLeod and Jason Bargwanna, V8 icons Glenn Seton, Brad Jones and Neil Crompton, reigning Fujitsu V8 Champion Steve Owen, Australian Rally Champions Neal Bates and Simon Evans and Australian actor turned racing driver Eric Bana all competing.

Bana, who has starred in such films as Chopper, Black Hawk Down, Hulk and Munich, has competed in several Targa Tasmania events and the Porsche Challenge previously but the WPS Bathurst 12 Hour Showroom Enduro will be the biggest race of the 40 year-old's racing career. He will compete in a Mitsubishi Evo X alongside Tim Leahey and Peter Hill.

"I'm thrilled to be able to compete in this Year's 12 Hour. Bathurst is an iconic track that I have always wanted to race at. Most of my racing has been on Victorian tracks so it will be a huge challenge," said Bana.

"Tim and Peter are great mates which will make the Event a lot of fun regardless of outcome. I've never raced a 4WD, so I look forward to getting to grips with the EVO. It will certainly be different to my 996 Cup Car."

Joining Bana at Mount Panorama next month will be television star Grant Denyer.

After spending the past six months recovering from a back injury suffered while driving a monster truck, the likeable 31 year-old will make his return to the driver's seat in the WPS Bathurst 12 Hour Showroom Enduro.

Denyer, who is the star of Channel 7's Australia's Got Talent and a former winner of Dancing with the Stars, is an established racer competing in the Bathurst 1000 and both 24-hour encounters held at Mount Panorama several years ago.

"After spending almost four months staring at the ceiling, I've been scratching my eyes out to return to racing," said Denyer.

"I had a scan yesterday on was given the full clearance to race subject to me being fully comfortable in the car.

"The WPS Bathurst 12 Hour is a great Event to get back behind the wheel at, it is a very enjoyable race with a heap of good drivers.

"We finished runner-up there last year, I think we missed out on the win by 23 seconds and this was after we copped three drive-through penalties during the race. So if we can keep out of trouble I think we're in for another good showing this year."

Event Director James O'Brien is delighted with the support shown by Australia's top level drivers for the once around the clock encounter which will see no less than 12 different marques competing.

The 49 entries received is a healthy increase on the 37 cars that took to the grid last year and represents an increase of 17 cars in the two years since the WPS Bathurst 12 Hour Showroom Enduro was rejuvenated in 2007.

"It is pleasing to see the increase in the overall numbers and also to see that nine of the top ten manufacturers by volume in Australia are represented at the Event," said O'Brien.

"The field for this year's WPS Bathurst 12 Hour is not only up on last year's but sees more competitors with a chance of outright victory.

"The Event has defied the current economic downturn, which can only be a good thing for the Australian motor sport industry and for the fans, with more cars, more marques, more drivers and as a direct result, stiffer competition all round on the cards for the 2009 Event.

"The wide variety of cars will certainly provide some interest with outright speed, race tactics, fuel strategy and team work all coming into play throughout the race."

The 2009 WPS Bathurst Showroom Enduro will be held at Mount Panorama on February 20-22.

The 2008 WPS 12 Hour Showroom Enduro attracted in excess of 100 drivers across 37 entries from various parts of Australia and New Zealand with the Mitsubishi Evo 9 of Damien White, Graham Alexander and Rod Salmon taking the victory.