GT World Challenge Europe stars prepare to tackle the Mountain at Bathurst 12 Hour

30 January 2020

This weekend's Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour will feature a wealth of current talent from GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS, as well as stars from the championship's Blancpain GT Series era. 

The season-opening Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli event takes place at the iconic Mount Panorama circuit, with the round-the-clock race set to begin at 05.45 local time (19.45 CET) and reach its conclusion 12 hours later. 

The 2020 season will see Porsche looking to repeat a remarkable 2019 campaign, which included victory at the Total 24 Hours of Spa and an IntGTC drivers' and manufacturers' title double. Its full-season line-up of Matt Campbell, Mathieu Jaminet, Patrick Pilet, Dirk Werner, and Romain Dumas are all regulars on the European scene, while Laurens Vanthoor won the Endurance and combined GT Series titles in 2014.  

2018 Endurance Cup champions Yelmer Buurman, Maro Engel and Luca Stolz will resume their successful partnership at the wheel of the #77 Mercedes-AMG, which will be run by their regular Black Falcon squad and Asian powerhouse Craft-Bamboo. The #999 Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing crew is equally formidable, with Blancpain GT Series champions Raffaele Marciello and Maxi Buhk joined by Felipe Fraga. The Brazilian won the Silver class title in last year's Endurance Cup as part of the all-conquering AKKA ASP squad. 

Maxi Goetz will drive the Mercedes-AMG Team Triple Eight Race Engineering entry alongside 2016 Endurance Cup champion Shane van Gisbergen and Aussie tin-top legend Jamie Whincup. In the #46 Black Falcon machine, 2016 GT Series champion Dominik Baumann will link up with Nick Foster and Patrick Assenheimer, both of whom were regulars in Europe last term.

Audi will tackle the event with its leading factory drivers. GT World Challenge Europe stars Dries Vanthoor, Christopher Haase and Frederic Vervisch will pilot the #2 Audi Sport Team Valvoline car, while the sister #222 machine features Kelvin van Der Linde, Mattia Drudi and Markus Winkelhock. In the #22 entry, long-serving Audi man Chris Mies will share with Mirko Bortolotti – who recently joined the German marque from Lamborghini – and local ace Garth Tander.

Long-serving GT World Challenge Europe squad M-Sport will focus on IntGTC this season, allowing Bentley's new customer outfits to establish themselves in the championship. The squad's #7 Continental GT3 features factory drivers Jules Gounon, Maxime Soulet and Jordan Pepper, all of whom will tackle this season's Endurance Cup with Bentley customer squad K-PAX Racing. The sister #8 machine will include Alex Buncombe, who holds the all-time record for Endurance Cup starts. He will be joined by Seb Morris, who is set to contest this year's Endurance schedule with French outfit CMR, and returning Bentley driver Oliver Jarvis.

Aston Martin is embarking on its first full IntGTC campaign this year. GT World Challenge Europe entrant R-Motorsport will field a pair of cars on the Mountain, with Endurance Cup regular Jake Dennis lining up in the #62 alongside IndyCar legend Scott Dixon and Aussie ace Rick Kelly. The #76 Vantage will feature Sprint Cup race winner Marvin Kirchhoefer and new signing Luca Ghiotto alongside youngster Olli Caldwell.

Now entering its second season as an Aston squad, Garage 59 will also be present with a brace of cars. In its #188 Pro-Am entry, Alexander West and Chris Goodwin will be joined by 2016 Endurance Cup champion Come Ledogar, while GT World Challenge Europe racer Andrew Watson leads the squad's #159 Silver Cup crew. 

Lamborghini is also contesting its first full campaign in the globe-trotting series. Leading squad Orange1 FFF Racing will field the tried and tested line-up of Andrea Caldarelli, Marco Mapelli and Dennis Lind as it looks to earn yet more international success. Caldarelli and Mapelli made history last season when they clinched the Endurance, Sprint and GT Series titles, an achievement made all the more remarkable by the fact that FFF was contesting its maiden European campaign. 

BMW's full-season assault will be led by Walkenhorst Motorsport, which established its international credentials by winning the 2018 Total 24 Hours of Spa. Their line-up will be led by Nick Catsburg, who has appeared in every Endurance season to date with a variety of BMW outfits.  

McLaren will field Alvaro Parente – who will contest this year's Endurance Cup with the K-PAX Bentley squad – and Tom Blomqvist, who was recently confirmed as part of the R-Motorsport Aston Martin line-up for the European campaign. Former Blancpain GT Series racers Ben Barnicoat and Martin Kodric also feature for the British supercar brand. 

Finally, 2016 Endurance Cup champion Katsumasa Chiyo will be targeting a second Bathurst 12 Hour win, this time with the KCMG Nissan squad. Should the team maintain its 2019 programme, the Japanese ace will also be back in GT World Challenge Europe action at the Total 24 Hours of Spa.

Indeed, many of the drivers competing at Bathurst will be on duty at the Belgian endurance classic, which represents the second round of Intercontinental GT Challenge and the marquee event of GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS. For now, however, all eyes are focussed on the action Down Under. European viewers can watch practice, qualifying, the Pole Shootout and all 12 hours of racing live on the IntGTC website and Facebook page, as well as on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel.