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Estre headlines HubAuto Porsche factory line-up at Bathurst 12 Hour

World Endurance Championship star Kevin Estre will make his Bathurst 12 Hour return as part of a Porsche factory line-up fielded by HubAuto Racing in February's Intercontinental GT Challenge curtain-raiser.

Thomas Preining, Hubauto Racing Porsche 911 GT3R (992)

Estre, Patrick Pilet and Klaus Bachler will tackle the Mount Panorama Circuit in the 12 Hour race on 18 February aboard a Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) as the German manufacturer seeks to claim its first victory in the event since 2019.

The Taiwanese HubAuto team finished 18th on its only previous 12 Hour start in 2019, having been forced to withdraw prior to the 2020 race due to damage sustained in a practice crash by Daniel Serra, but the GT World Challenge Asia regular does have pedigree in international competition.

Tim Slade, Nick Foster and Miguel Molina won the 8 Hours of California at Laguna Seca when it formed part of the IGTC in 2019, and having claimed a shock pole for the GTE Pro class at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2021.

Team boss Morris Chen said: “We’re really happy to have Klaus, Kevin and Patrick for HubAuto Racing’s return to Bathurst.

"They work well together and it’s a wonderful opportunity to have them join us.

"We’re confident we have the right combination of skills and experience, which places us in an excellent position for success."

#27 HubAuto Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3: Nick Foster, Tim Slade, Nick Percat

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

#27 HubAuto Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3: Nick Foster, Tim Slade, Nick Percat

Porsche Penske Motorsport Hypercar racer Estre, who raced for HubAuto in the FIA GT World Cup at Macau last season, has the most experience at Bathurst of the trio. 

In addition to his two previous attempts on the 12 Hour, the most recent coming in 2019, he also contested the Bathurst 1000 Supercars centrepiece last year, finishing 11th in his Grove Racing Mustang.

Bathurst rookie Bachler and Pilet, who finished fourth in 2020 with Absolute Racing on his only previous Bathurst appearance, won the GTD Pro class at the Sebring 12 Hours last year in their full IMSA SportsCar Championship campaign with Pfaff Motorsport.

Estre joined the duo for the final round of the 2023 IMSA schedule at Road Atlanta, when the trio finished second at Petit Le Mans.

The announcement follows news that Supercars ace Will Brown will make his first appearance for the powerhouse Triple Eight squad in the 12 Hour when it fields a Pro class entry with its Mercedes-AMG GT3.  

Brown, signed from Erebus to replace the NASCAR-bound Shane van Gisbergen, will join his new Supercars team-mate Broc Feeney and Mercedes factory driver Mikael Grenier one week before the Supercars season begins with the Bathurst 500 at Mount Panorama on 24-25 February.

“It’s not my first time at the 12 Hour, but it’s going to be my first race with Triple Eight," said Brown.

"It allows myself to work closely with the team before we get to the first Supercars event the weekend after, so even though we’re going there to try and win the 12 Hour, it’s a great way for me to familiarise myself with the entire team."

It was announced earlier this month that Raffaele Marciello will make his BMW debut when he joins WRT for the event, the newly-appointed BMW World Endurance Championship driver pairing up with motorcycle racing legend Valentino Rossi and Maxime Martin aboard one of its two M4 GT3 entries.

Sheldon van der Linde, Charles Weerts and 2018 Bathurst 12 Hour winner Dries Vanthoor will share the second car.

The IGTC will include the Nurburgring 24 Hours for the first time next season, with the Spa 24 Hours and Indianapolis 8 Hour completing the four-round calendar.

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