GT

Le Mans 1000km GT winner heads to Bathurst 24

The leading Ferrari attack for the Bathurst 24 Hour will hit the mountain in winning form after the BE Racing combination of Klaus Engelhorn, Philipp Peter and Andrea Montermini took victory in the GT class at the Le Mans 1000km at the ...

The leading Ferrari attack for the Bathurst 24 Hour will hit the mountain in winning form after the BE Racing combination of Klaus Engelhorn, Philipp Peter and Andrea Montermini took victory in the GT class at the Le Mans 1000km at the weekend.

The trio will contest the 24 Hour in a Ferrari 360 GT prepared down under by PHR Scuderia - the same car Engelhorn drove in Nation's Cup competition recently at the Gold Coast CART weekend.

Engelhorn, Peter and Montermini finished 10th outright in their class winning performance aboard a Ferrari 360 Modena.

The BE Racing combination were three of several top international sportscar drivers who contested both the Le Mans event and will compete at the Bathurst 24 Hour.

Other drivers include Martin Short who drove a Reynard LMP900 at Le Mans and will return to Bathurst this year with the Mosler MT900R; Australian Neil Cunningham (Morgan Aero 8 at both Le Mans and Bathurst); Liz Halliday (TVR at Le Mans/Porsche 911 GT3 RS at Bathurst) plus Mike Newton and Tomas Erdos (Lola MG at Le Mans/Porsche 911 GT3 RS at Bathurst)

The French race was run on the shorter Bugatti circuit - the same one used for the French Motorcycle Grand Prix - but utilises the same pit facilities as the fabled Le Mans 24 Hour.

Montermini is no stranger to Australia having driven Formula One in Adelaide and Melbourne as well as competing on the Gold Coast in CART.

"It is a great thing to come back to Australia again and I am really looking forward to coming to Bathurst because I do some commentary on Italian television for the V8 Supercar Bathurst event," Montermini said.

"It looks like a fantastic circuit and after speaking to a few people who have raced there, I really can't wait to make the trip."

Team-mate Philipp Peter kicked off the year in fine style, winning the Sebring 12-Hour for Audi with Frank Beila and Marco Werner - the opening round of this year's American Le Mans Series.

"This will be my first trip to Australia so it was not just only the chance to do the race, but heading down under for the first time made me very excited to be a part of this program," Peter said.

"Winning will certainly be tough because this is a very competitive field and we don't know the circuit like the local guys.

"The car looks to be competitive and reliable so it should play out OK."

Bathurst will be the second Australian race for Englehorn who drove in Nation's Cup at the recent Gold Coast CART event.

"There are many good drivers and many good teams at this event and I really think it is going to be special and unique," Englehorn said.

"I finished 6th in the second race on the Gold Coast and felt I could have improved in the last race that was cancelled so I am very confident the car will be very competitive."

Around 55 cars from Australia, Britain, Germany, Austria and New Zealand are due to start the race at 2 pm on Saturday 22 November, after a program of support events for GT Performance and Production touring cars, V8 BRutes and Porsches.

Erdos, the UK based Brazillian sportscar specialist will be driving the third different style of car of the year with Newton at Bathurst. The pairing drove an LMP675 class MG Lola prototype at Le Mans and contested the FIA GT Championship in a Saleen SR7.

"This is such a very unique circuit that drivers rave about and I can't wait to get down there," Erdos said.

"The Porsche is a great handling car and should be well suited to the track, but this year looks like it will be a lot more competitive than last year's race.

"It is going to great to say you have done Bathurst 24 Hour on your CV."

Short will be hoping to repeat his podium performance in the Mosler at Bathurst after a gearbox problem seriously delayed his efforts at Le Mans.

"I think anybody who saw our faces on the podium last year knows how much we enjoyed it and we said straight away we would be back because it is such a great event," Short said.

"Like all great tracks it has such a unique nature. It really requires a different discipline to all the other tracks you go to."

The Channel Seven television network in Australia will devote more than seven hours' live coverage to the race, mixed with its telecast on Saturday night of the Rugby World Cup final match, which will be watched by fans on two giant screens at the top and bottom of Mount Panorama.

Tickets to the Bathurst 24-Hour are on sale from $32 for adults through Ticketmaster7, on ph. 1300 136 122 or www.ticketmaster7.com.au.

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