Rotek Racing will field an all-star driver line-up for the 2014 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hours on Australia’s spectacular and unforgiving Mount Panorama circuit (7-9 February).
Mount Panorama is a unique and merciless motorsport venue in the New South Wales region of Australia.
At 6.21km in length, it rises 174 metres and its undulating layout comprises of several challenging corners, including The Dipper – a steep, sharp left-hander – and Forrest’s Elbow, which leads onto the 1.91km-long Conrod Straight.
The Nurburgring and Sonoma-based Rotek Racing team will field a sole Audi R8 LMS for Rob Huff, Oliver Gavin, Kevin Gleason and Richard Meins in the Australian 12 hour-enduro.
Rob Huff – the 2012 FIA World Touring Car Champion – made his Bathurst debut in 2013 and is preparing to have another crack at conquering ‘The Mountain’, this time in a Rotek Racing-prepared Audi R8 LMS.
Huff heads back ‘down under’ after a recent run of success in endurance racing, having played a crucial role in Rotek’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill success in December and taken podium finishes in the Dubai and Daytona 24 Hour enduros in January.
“Bathurst is always a highlight for me,” said Huff. “I raced there last year and thoroughly enjoyed myself, both on and off the track. The Mount Panorama circuit is legendary and completely unique – the run over the mountain is a hair-raising experience that’s full of unconventional corners and blind crests and bookended by a couple of long straights – while the Bathurst 12 Hours is growing year-on-year.
“It’s exciting to be linking up with Rotek Racing once again, following the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill success in December. I’m familiar with the Audi R8 LMS after racing one at Bathurst in 2013 and the team’s driver line-up is strong, so I’m naturally hoping to replicate the Thunderhill result. I seem to be on a bit of a roll in endurance racing, so let’s hope this winning streak continues in Australia!”
Four-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner and American Le Mans (ALMS) Champion Oliver Gavin has over 12 years of sportscar racing experience but is yet to take on the undulating Mount Panorama circuit.
The long-term Corvette Racing driver from Northamptonshire will partner Huff in Rotek’s R8 LMS for his maiden ‘Mountain’ run and knows he will have to call upon all of his years of experience to defeat Australian motorsport’s sternest test.
“This will be my very first time at Mount Panorama and it’s very exciting to have the opportunity to compete in the Bathurst 12 Hours with Rotek Racing,” said Gavin. “It’s a race that’s growing in stature and it’s certainly going to be a challenge. Any Australia motorsport aficionado will say that Bathurst is very unique and a circuit that cannot be replicated, in the same way as Le Mans, Macau, the Nurburgring and Spa.
“I think you need to spend quite a lot of time there to get somewhere close to being competitive and getting used to the circuit’s high-speed sections and the closeness of the walls is going to be one of the biggest challenges for me. However, we have a solid driver line-up and the plan is to push for the class victory. We will have a good, fast and solid package that’s capable of fighting with anybody.”
The Pennsylvania-domiciled racer, who contested a full campaign in the 2013 Pirelli World Challenge Championship, is yet to sample Rotek’s Audi R8 LMS and the Bathurst circuit and will utilise his teammates’ experience to ensure the transition is seamless.
“I’ve never been to Bathurst, but it’s a world-renowned circuit and the event is rapidly rising in stature, so I’m really excited about the whole thing,” said Gleason. “It will definitely be a challenge. Mount Panorama is regarded as one the toughest circuits in the world – it’s like a street track on steroids with little margin for error. I’ve never driven the Audi R8 LMS and it will definitely be a step up for me in terms of power.
“However, with a highly professional and experienced team behind me and proven teammates, it should be a straightforward transition. I’ll be looking to learn from Rob (Huff), as he’s on a bit of a roll in endurance racing at the moment and it’s not often you get to team-up with a World Champion!”
Richard Meins has had a presence in touring cars, as well as the endurance and historic racing scenes since the mid-Nineties and enjoys contesting international motorsport’s “special events”.
The Briton is well acquainted with Mount Panorama, having already contested the Bathurst 12 Hours on three occasions and believes this experience, twinned with his background in the Le Mans Series (LMS) and solid results in the Macau Grand Prix, will serve him well in the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hours.
“I’m looking forward to driving with Rob (Huff), Oliver (Gavin) and Kevin (Gleason),” said Meins. “I’ve been racing for quite a long time now but, while I will be the senior member of the team, driving alongside the likes of Rob and Oliver takes this year’s Bathurst 12 Hours to the next level for me. I have some experience in an R8 LMS and it’s going to be quite interesting with Rotek Racing’s driver line-up.
“Mount Panorama is one of the best circuits in the world. It’s very special, old-fashioned and, with an abundance of unconventional corners, long straights and blind crests, experience counts for a lot there. It’s a long way to travel for a race, but it’s a top circuit and this event gets bigger every year, with an ever-expanding entry and larger crowds.”