Bathurst 24 news 2003-10-09

The world's best GT teams, drivers and cars top a mouth-watering list of 71 provisional entries for the second annual Bathurst 24-Hour race at Mount Panorama next month. Current FIA N-GT World Champion Freisinger Motorsport, ...

The world's best GT teams, drivers and cars top a mouth-watering list of 71 provisional entries for the second annual Bathurst 24-Hour race at Mount Panorama next month.

Current FIA N-GT World Champion Freisinger Motorsport, from Germany, has entered two of the latest Porsche GT3 RS coupes, but will face strong competition for outright victory from makes such as Monaro, Ferrari, Mosler, Morgan, BMW, Maserati, TVR and Marcos.

Teams are due to come from Britain, Germany, Sweden, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Austria, as well as Australia, for the 21-23 November event.

The international line-up will include drivers experienced in Formula 1, Le Mans 24-Hour, FIA and British GT, Porsche Supercup, Formula 3000, Champ Cars and other high-level racing categories.

Event organiser PROCAR Australia has approval to start 55 cars -- one of the biggest Bathurst fields in many years - but says it is investigating the possibility of accepting even more if final numbers require it.

"This huge entry follows an explosion of interest in the Bathurst 24-Hour since the inaugural event last November, when we fielded 36 cars," Deputy Executive Chairman John Cowley said.

"We have nominations from some of the best teams from overseas and Australia -- 71 is just amazing for only our second year.

"We're in the process of asking every applicant to confirm and will then determine with our partner Bathurst City Council if it is viable to accommodate more cars by constructing temporary pit bays."

Mr Cowley said fans could expect one of the most exciting events in the 65--year history of the Mount Panorama circuit.

"This is the only race that makes it possible for teams from the other side of the world to bring their own cars to take on the Mountain -- and to take on the best of Australian competitors.

"Fans at the track and the television audience on Channel Seven will be treated to an unprecedented line-up of cars more usually associated with tracks like Le Mans, Nurburgring, Spa-Francorchamps or Daytona and, also like them, it will be a gruelling race around the clock," Mr Cowley said.

Freisinger Motorsport will be making its first Australian foray, but comes with the reputation as one of the world's top Porsche endurance outfits.

It is the defending FIA N-GT series World Champion and leads the points standings for this year. Freisinger beat more powerful GT class teams to outright victory in the Spa 24-Hours in Belgium in July.

Although Freisinger has not named its Bathurst drivers yet, speculation includes regular pilot Stephane Ortelli.

The 33-year-old Frenchman won last year's FIA N-GT drivers title and leads this year's competition. He also won the 2002 international Porsche Supercup series and the 1998 Le Mans 24-Hour with Porsche.

Other high-profile overseas contenders include Euro GT Series star Cor Euser, from Holland, in a Marcos Mantis; the Rollcentre Mosler team that finished second at Bathurst last year; the factory-backed Morgan Aero 8 of expatriate Australian Neil Cunningham; Graham Nash Motorsport (UK) with British GT Champion Tommy Erdos of Brazil, in a Porsche; Cirtek Motorsport (UK) with a Porsche and CDL Motorsport (UK) with a TVR Tuscan R.

Melbourne-based PHR Scuderia will host an entry for Austrian team BE Racing, new owner of one of the Ferrari 360 GTs seen in the Australian Nations Cup Championship.

Italian ex-Formula 1, Champ Car and Formula 3000 driver Andrea Montermini will be in the team.

The majority of entry nominations are from Australian teams, however.

Last year's winner Garry Rogers Motorsport has entered two 7.0-litre Holden Monaros for nine-time Bathurst 1000 winner Peter Brock and seven current V8 Supercar drivers.

PHR Scuderia will run John Bowe, Brad Jones, Greg Crick and Maher Algadri in a yet-to-be-announced new car on its way from overseas and is seeking two drivers to complete a team for its Porsche GT3 RS.

Touring cars from the Australian GT Performance and Production Car Championships make up more than 25 provisional entries.

The Channel Seven television network 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

-procar-

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