THE most significant Australian entry for November's inaugural Bathurst 24-Hour international race has been confirmed, with Holden set to run a 6.7-litre Monaro coupe against some of the world's best sports car teams. Race organiser PROCAR ...
THE most significant Australian entry for November's inaugural Bathurst 24-Hour international race has been confirmed, with Holden set to run a 6.7-litre Monaro coupe against some of the world's best sports car teams.
Race organiser PROCAR Australia has received the entry for the Group One outright class from Melbourne-based V8 Supercar outfit Gary Rogers Motorsport, which will run the car for Holden and has nominated its young ace Garth Tander as one of four drivers.
Announcing the entry today, PROCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Ross Palmer said the Holden Monaro was the star of a growing field of competitors in the 16-17 November event.
"Without doubt this is a key entry and I congratulate Holden for its ambition in wanting to put 'Australia's own' Monaro up against exotic European marques such as Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini," Mr Palmer said.
"Of course, Holden has an unmatched record at Mount Panorama and I'm sure that in taking on this entirely new challenge of the Bathurst 24-Hour its experience and that of the Gary Rogers Motorsport team will prove an advantage against the top European endurance teams."
Mr Palmer also announced PROCAR had gained approval to extend the official entry deadline to Tuesday 15 October.
He said: "We have been aware some intending entrants were behind time in seeking to meet the original deadline yesterday, in some cases because of outstanding technical issues and in others because teams were simultaneously trying to run championships here or in Europe.
"Well, they've been given a break and they should hear the Holden Monaro entry as the rallying call to really get cracking. Holden is raising its flag on top of the mountain and saying to the internationals, 'come and get us'.
"Now that we have a substantial list of entrants and more coming in, the race is on in every sense of the word.
"There are cars on ships from Europe already, local teams are working on their vehicle preparation, logisitics and driver line-ups, spectator tickets are on sale, officials are being signed up and planning is well under way for the live television broadcasts of the meeting by the Seven Network and Fox Sports.
"There are just over six weeks to go to one of the most exciting motorsport events ever staged in Australia."
The Monaro has been built to the regulations of the Australian Nations Cup Championship, in which it will race next year.
Put together over the past few months by Gary Rogers Motorsport, it features a 6.7 litre Chevrolet aluminium engine, six-speed sequential Holinger gearbox and all-independent suspension within a standard Monaro bodyshell.
With the engine capacity equating to 427 cubic inches in US Imperial measurement, the Monaro will carry the racing number 427 on its doors and bonnet.
The car is expected to have its first private track test in the next few weeks.
Mr Palmer said entries were strong across the several main Groups, or classes, eligible for the Bathurst 24-Hour.
Group One-outright has attracted teams from Australia, Britain and Germany and makes including Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Mosler, as well as the Holden Monaro.
Group Five, for Australian GT Performance cars, also will have a strong line-up, with one of the highlights the first Nissan 350Z in the country, to be run by Sydney's Nathan Pilkington.
Melbourne team owner and driver Greg Haysom has lodged the biggest individual entry, for three Nissan 200SX coupes and a Toyota Supra twin-turbo requiring a total of 16 drivers.
AUSSIES & AUSTRIANS LINK FOR DOUBLE BMW ENTRY
AUSTRIAN team Duller Motorsport will include two Australian drivers in its entry of two BMW M3 coupes for the Bathurst 24-Hour on 16-17 November.
Melbourne-based Domenic Beninca, the 1995 Australian GTP champion, will share one of the cars with Briton Howard Redhouse, Peter Hannen from Austria and a fourth driver, still to be decided.
The driving line-up in the second car will include Melinda Price, also from Melbourne, who has competed this year in the Nurgburgring, Germany, and Spa, Belgium, 24-hour races and will be the second woman driver in the Bathurst event.
Redhouse has an impressive recent record in endurance events.
In March, he drove the Duller BMW to outright victory in the 24 hours of Enna Pergussa, Italy, and in June won the Group N class at the Nurburgring.
The team will be run by its Austrian owner, Hermann Duller.
"We are delighted to have two experienced Australian drivers on our team. We know that Mount Panorama is a very challenging circuit and Domenic and Belinda will bring to us invaluable local knowledge," Duller said.
Australia's first major international 24-hour race, the Bathurst 24-Hour will start at 4 pm on Saturday 16 November. Practice and qualifying, including night sessions, will be on Friday. Support events will be a two-hour Showroom Showdown for GT Production Cars on Saturday, and races on Friday and Saturday for V8 BRutes and Holden HQ sedans. Tickets, priced from $40 for two days, can be purchased through Ticketmaster7 by phoning 1300 136 122 or visiting www.ticketmaster7.com. More information about the event is on the official website, www.bathurst24hr.com.