Mount Panorama hosts the 13th running of the annual Bathurst 12-Hour this weekend, with the event officially launched today.
This year’s race could boast the largest field since the event returned in 2007, with 54 cars currently scheduled to make the starting line early Sunday morning.
Last year’s race saw 42 starters and 28 finishers, with high temperatures and a newly-resurfaced track the day’s main talking points.
The heat is set to return for this weekend’s race according to the weather bureau - but not to the same extent as last year - with no rain predicted on race day at this stage.
A host of entries not yet seen at The Mountain before could lift the pace of this year’s event, with 2014 seeing a record 296 laps and more than 1,835km covered by the leading cars.
Audi, Porsche, Ferrari and Mercedes-AMG will be well-represented at this year’s 12-Hour, while the Nissan team will be hoping its fan-favourite GT-R Nismo has more luck second time around following last year’s dramatic exit.
The number 88 Maranello Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia will be back to defend its crown, but only one member remains from last year’s driver line-up.
Shrinking from four to three drivers for this year’s race, the 88 car will be piloted by ex-Formula 1 driver Mika Salo who makes his return, joined by Ben Collins (well known as the first ‘white Stig’ from BBC’s Top Gear) and Tony D’Alberto.
An ‘unavoidable’ date clash will see the 12-Hour and the official season-opening test session for V8 Supercars take place on the same day, meaning several of the touring car drivers who took part in 2014 are prohibited by V8 Supercar’s governing body from returning this year.
While a large number of international drivers will contest this year’s race - including Red Bull daredevil Felix Baumgartner - well-known local names include John Bowe, David Brabham and Dean Canto.
Fans unable to make it to Bathurst for this year’s 12-Hour can catch every minute of the action on the 7 Network, which will split coverage across its main channel and 7-Mate. The race will also be streamed live on the 12-Hour website and broadcast on Radio LeMans.
The 2015 Bathurst 12-Hour gets underway from 5:50 AM this Sunday. TMR will of course be trackside for the big race - stay tuned for more.