David Brabham and Le Mans winner Ortelli lead star-studded Porsche attack on Bathurst. LE MANS winner Stephan Ortelli and expatriate Australian David Brabham will lead a high-powered multinational Porsche entry in next month's Bathurst 24-Hour...
David Brabham and Le Mans winner Ortelli lead star-studded Porsche attack on Bathurst.
LE MANS winner Stephan Ortelli and expatriate Australian David Brabham will lead a high-powered multinational Porsche entry in next month's Bathurst 24-Hour motor race.
Frenchman Ortelli, Brabham, fellow Australian Darren Palmer and American Vic Rice will drive a Porsche GT3-R coupe for the British Cirtek Motorsport team.
They join a growing list of international entrants for the 16-17 November event and are expected to be among the most formidable rivals for the new 7.0 litre Holden Monaro and other Australian teams.
The race will start at 4 pm on Saturday 16 November with a range of exotic makes including Porsche, Ferrari, Monaro, Mosler, Viper and Lamborghini expected to vie for outright honours.
Ortelli, the 1998 Le Mans 24-Hour winner, is one of the biggest stars in European sports car racing.
On Sunday at Donington, England, he wrapped up the FIA N-GT Championship and the weekend before in Indianapolis he became the 2002 Porsche Supercup Champion.
Georgia-based Brabham, who brought his Panoz sports car home fourth in an American Le Mans Series race in Florida last Saturday, said he was excited about returning to Mount Panorama.
He and brother Geoff won the AMP Bathurst 1000 in a BMW in 1997, although the last time he competed in Australia was in a Panoz in Adelaide's Race of a Thousand Years on 31 December 2000.
"What expat Australian driver wouldn't jump at the opportunity to come back with a top team and compete in a race like this at Mount Panorama?" Brabham said.
Cirtek Motorsport ran the Porsche in which the Gold Coast's Darren Palmer, 28, finished 11th in the Race of a Thousand Years.
""I'm thrilled to be back with the team again and to be driving a Porsche with a genuine chance of winning," said Palmer, who currently is second in the Australian Formula 3 Championship.
"The GT3-R will be a great thing at Bathurst. It might not be quite as fast down the straight as some of the bigger-engined cars, but we'll be able to run it hard right round the clock and it should be relatively gentle on brakes and tyres.
"Teaming up with internationals of the calibre of Stephan, David and Vic is probably the biggest thing in my racing career so far.
"My goal will be to latch on to the pace of the other guys and put in some steady stints."
The fourth team member, Californian Vic Rice, has competed in many international and US sports car races over the past decade. He finished seventh outright in a Cirtek Porsche in this year's Spa, Belgium, 24-hour race.
Cirtek also will run a second Porsche at Bathurst, although team boss Rob Schirle has not yet named the drivers.
At least seven of the rapid six-cylinder Porsches are expected to enter the race.
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. For more information, see www.bathurst24hr.com.