NATIONS Cup star John Bowe will lead a top-flight Australian team chasing victory in this month's Bathurst 24-Hour race in a specially-imported BMW V8 coupe. Melbourne-based PHR Scuderia's new BMW M3 GTR is due to arrive from California by air...
NATIONS Cup star John Bowe will lead a top-flight Australian team chasing victory in this month's Bathurst 24-Hour race in a specially-imported BMW V8 coupe.
Melbourne-based PHR Scuderia's new BMW M3 GTR is due to arrive from California by air tonight and will be driven by Bowe, Greg Crick, Neil Crompton and Australian-based Indonesian team owner Maher Algadri.
Its arrival confirms widespread speculation about the spearhead for PHR Scuderia's three-car Bathurst attack and promises experienced international endurance teams will have another tough Australian rival for the event on 21-23 November.
Team manager Terry Little said today: "There has been a lot of speculation about PHR's plans, but we didn't wish to say anything until we knew the BMW was on its way.
"By the time it arrives there won't be much time for the drivers or crew to get to know the BMW, but we're confident it has the pace and reliability to win the race."
After its arrival, the car will be stripped and rebuilt in a round-the-clock effort by six PHR mechanics, in time for Bowe to run the first shakedown test at Victoria's Winton Motor Raceway on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the team will move to Calder Park in Melbourne, where Bowe's teammates will drive.
At Bathurst, the BMW M3 GTR will contest the outright Class A against the two factory-based 7.0 litre Holden Monaros, Martin Short's Mosler MT900R, a Porsche GT3 RS entered by England's Graham Nash Motorsport, Porsches from Australian Peter Floyd and England's Cirtek Motorsport, plus another Porsche and a Ferrari 360GT also entered under the PHR Scuderia banner.
The lightweight BMW was built by the factory-endorsed Prototype Technology Group in Winchester, Virginia, and contested one round of the 2001 American Le Mans Series and the 2002 Daytona 24-hours.
It features a modified BMW M5 5.0 litre engine, six-speed Hewland gearbox, 18 inch x 11 inch BBS wheels and all-carbonfibre bodywork.
Little said the GTR was one of only six built and one of two with a 5.0 litre engine.
"We bought it for reliability and low running costs. We had the choice of a Porsche or a Ferrari or the BMW as PHR Scuderia's lead car," he said.
"Obviously we think the BMW is the better choice and we're confident we can race against the Monaros, the Mosler, the Porsches and the Ferraris.
"Due to delays in getting the car shipped, we're about four weeks behind in our preparation, but we had a good look over it in the States and know it will do the job."
Around 55 cars from Australia, Britain, Germany, Austria and New Zealand are due to start the race at 2 pm on Saturday 22 November, after a 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.