2017 AUSTRALIAN MOTOR RACING SEASON IS UPON US!

AFTER WHAT seems like the blink of an eye, the 2017 Australian motor racing season is now upon us!

Bathurst hosts the season-opener this weekend … and what a season-opener it is!
 
Arguably the best-ever field of drivers, teams and cars assembled in the recent history of the sport in this country, outside of the annual Australian Grand Prix events at least, will contest this weekend’s Bathurst 12 Hour race for GT cars.
 
Like I said, there’s some serious depth to the 12 Hour field … how about GT factory or factory-backed teams from McLaren, Ferrari, Nissan, Bentley, Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz?
 
Or, for the first time, the new GTA Pro Class which partners up an all-professional driver line-up rather than the previous rule which mandated at least one no-professional on the driving staff.
 
There’s still a Pro-Am class for those entries, as well as a GT3-Am class and three other classes as well, so lots of diversity in the field which totals 55 entries. Just like the Bathurst 1000 races of old!
 
Along with the brands mentioned earlier, you’ll also find Porsche, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Dodge, Ginetta, MARC Ford Focus and Mazda 3, and even a KTM X-Bow doing battle at Mt Panorama on the weekend.
 
In terms of driving talent, it’s pretty amazing too.
 
Le Mans winner and a good friend of mine, Mark Lieb, is driving a Porsche GTS R in the GT Pro Am class, while another Porsche factory Le Mans winner, Earl Bamber, drives a similar car in the GTA Pro class.
 
About half Australia’s Supercars drivers seem to be on the grid, as are our very best GT drivers and a host of globally-rated internationals.
 
It’s an amazing field and it’s almost impossible to pick a winner.
 
Tekno won the race last year and although I was out of contention early after our car got damaged in a brush with another competitor, I’m back in the McLaren keen to help the team go back-to-back.
 
I’m sharing with McLaren factory drivers Jonny Kane and Ben Barnicoat, while our other car will be steered by Rob Bell, Come Ledoger and last year’s winner, Alvaro Parente.
 
Brother Alex is in a McLaren this year too, sharing with Warren Luff, Tim Slade and car owner Tony Walls, so they should be strong contenders in the GT Pro-Am class.
 
Both of the Tekno McLarens entries are in the GTA Pro class, where the competition is going to be very hot and the race winners are likely to come from.
 
2015 winner Craig Lowndes is back in a Ferrari, sharing with my good mate Jamie Whincup who is making his GT racing debut (at last!), and Ferrari factory driver Toni Vilander.
 
Audi look strong too with an R8 LMS for Garth Tander and factory steerers Christophers Mies and Haase, and another for Markus Winkelhock, Frank Stippler and Robin Frijns.
 
Nissan’s line up is serious, the two GTRs piloted by Todd Kelly/Forian Strauss/Jann Mardenborough and Alex Buncombe/Katsumasa Chiyo/Michael Caruso.
 
And making it even more of a family affair for the Davisons, my cousin James has had a late call-up to drive a privateer Nissan GTR … in fact the very same car he was racing in America last season.
 
And then there’s Bentley … a pair of Continental GT3s for Steve Kane/Guy Smith/Oliver Jarvis and Andy Soucek/Maxime Soulet/Vincent Abril.
 
There’s a trio of BMW M6s in the class too, with the Mark Skaife/Russell Ingall/Tony Longhurst/Timo Glock entry sure to generate lots of local interest.
 
Like I said, it’s shaping up as an awesome event … can’t wait to hit the track in a day or so’s time.
 
Wish me luck.
 
Will.
 

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CONSOLIDATING CHAMPIONSHIP CHANCES
18.05.2017
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MOMENTUM BUILDING IN THE WEST
11.05.2017
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THE RACE AGAINST THE CLOCK
20.04.2017
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TASSIE BOUND
06.04.2017
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AGP TIME
23.03.2017
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JUMPING IN THE DEEP END
09.03.2017
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THE SEASON OPENER IS HERE
01.03.2017
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2017 TEST DAY WRAP
14.02.2017
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BATHURST 12 HOUR WRAP UP
10.02.2017
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2017 AUSTRALIAN MOTOR RACING SEASON IS UPON US!
03.02.2017
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SYDNEY FINALE
09.12.2016
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PASSING IN PUKEKOHE
11.11.2016
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STACKING UP THE NUMBERS
28.10.2016
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CONQUERING THE MOUNTAIN
12.10.2016
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SUCCESS AT SANDOWN
21.09.2016
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POWERING ON TO SANDOWN
12.09.2016
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MID-SEASON
11.08.2016
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QUEENSLAND RACEWAY BLUES
27.07.2016
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TAKING ON TOWNSVILLE
18.07.2016
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THE WILD WEST
13.05.2016
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TASSIE TRIUMPH
08.04.2016
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HEADING SOUTH
31.03.2016
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WE'RE BACK
16.03.2016
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THE HOME STRETCH
18.11.2015
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WELCOME TO BATHURST
08.10.2015
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PUSHING FORWARD IN QUEENSLAND
13.08.2015
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LESSONS FROM THE NORTH
08.07.2015
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WINTON WOES
19.05.2015
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PERTH PERFECTION
11.05.2015
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ONE YEAR LATER
15.04.2015
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ROCKY START TO THE YEAR
16.03.2015
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