One of the crack British entries for next month's Bathurst 24-Hour race has announced a multi-national driving line-up for its Porsche GT3 RS coupe. Graham Nash Motorsport, based at Mallory Park, Leicestershire, will field Briton...
One of the crack British entries for next month's Bathurst 24-Hour race has announced a multi-national driving line-up for its Porsche GT3 RS coupe.
Graham Nash Motorsport, based at Mallory Park, Leicestershire, will field Briton Mike Newton, Australian Rod Wilson, Brazilian Thomas Erdos and Austrian Manfred Jurasz in its second attempt at the Mount Panorama enduro on 21-23 November.
The team confirmed the line-up overnight, following a successful test with the Porsche several days ago at England's Silverstone grand prix circuit.
Graham Nash Motorsport is likely to be one of the strongest international rivals for local outfits such as Garry Rogers Motorsport (Holden Monaros) and PHR Scuderia (Ferrari, Porsche).
Winning is likely to require completion of more than 500 laps, or 3100 kilometres of the mountain circuit at the edge of the Bathurst city centre.
A leading Australian Nations Cup competitor in Ferraris, Maseratis and a Mustang this season, Wilson was one of four drivers in the Nash Porsche last year. It ran strongly in the leading group until a crash put it out of the race around 2 am.
His fellow drivers this time are some of the most experienced in European GT racing.
Erdos is the 2002 British GT Champion and this year has been co-driving with Newton in a Saleen in the FIA GT Championship. Jurasz also has continued his Porsche career, after sampling Mount Panorama in 2002 as co-driver with David Brabham, Allan Grice and Darren Palmer in a Cirtek Motorsport Porsche.
The Graham Nash Porsche was given its final run before being air-freighted to Australia, with both owner Newton and Erdos taking the wheel.
Team manager Graham Nash said he was keen to shake down the car now, because practice and qualifying at Mount Panorama would be limited to one day.
"The car has been fully rebuilt and repainted since Spa (24-hour race) in August," Nash said.
"We've also upgraded the aerodynamic package, fitting the 2002 spec wings, bumper and splitter arrangement.
"Tommy had never driven the car before, so this was an opportunity for him to get a few laps under his belt and gain a feel for the car."
Newton spent time developing a suspension set-up for Bathurst, where he said the Porsche would need to run higher ground clearance to clear a road surface usually used for public traffic.
Erdos had not driven a Porsche since Le Mans pre-qualifying in1998, but said he was confident the car would be a contender.
"Everything about the driving environment is comfortable and the visibility is excellent. I'd reckon this was the most driver-friendly car I've ever tried -- it's obviously an excellent 24 hour car," he said.
Meanwhile, Wilson has revealed a change of plans for his own Motorsport Innovations team. Instead of a pair of Maseratis, he will now run a single Ferrari 360 Challenge coupe for American Paul Jenkins and Australians Theo Koundouris, Richard Wilson and Ian Palmer.
A field of around 55 cars is expected to start the race at 2 pm on Saturday 22 November, after a two-day program of support events for GT Performance and Production touring cars, V8 BRutes and Porsches.
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