AudiSport Team Joest have today announced plans for a 2011 assault on Australia’s Bathurst 12 Hour event. In a collaborative agreement with local team and regular AusGT competitors Penfold AudiSport, Joest confirmed its support for two Audi R8 LMS GT3 entries.
Following a second place finish at the emerging Sepang 12H event earlier this year, the announcement arrives at a time when Joest attempt to expand their customer sport portfolio, with the illustrious firm now offering its factory-support services to AudiSport customers around the world.
Driver lineups for the event were also unveiled. The squad’s first entry consisting entirely of locally-sourced drivers, with Penfold AudiSport team owner, Mark Eddy partnering reigning Bathurst 1000 champion Craig Lowndes, and V8SC endurance specialist, Warren Luff. Despite a lack of prior experience with Audi’s R8 LMS, both Lowndes/Luff are arguably the most suitable candidates for such an undertaking as a result of race miles alone, accrued on the legendary circuit.
Craig Lowndes responded to the announcement with the following statement:
“Team Joest and Audi Sport have a reputation for being the best in the business, much like Team Vodafone in V8 Supercars, so when they rang it was impossible to say no! I’m excited to be joining the works Audi team for this race and to be teaming up with some great drivers like Mark and Warren.
The R8 looks like a fantastic car and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel in February. Long distance racing is a great challenge, especially when you get to an amazing track like Bathurst, and it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to. It should be a great race.”
The team’s second entry will consist of an all-professional lineup, with German drivers Marc Basseng and 2009 FIA GT3 champion, Christopher Mies joining Canadian ace, Darryl O’Young. Although having never contested an event at the Mt. Panorama circuit the trio are no strangers to endurance, boasting collective starts at the Nürburgring 24H, Le Mans 24H, Sebring 12H, Spa 24H, and Sepang 12H events, in addition to GT1/GT3, ADAC, and VLN duties.
Bathurst 12H Event Director, James O’Brien made the following statement:
“Having a team of this calibre commit to the Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour with two cars is a fantastic show of support for the Event. I was fortunate enough to see the Audi team in action at Sepang (Malaysia) earlier this year and they are hugely professional as you would expect.
Their participation is sure to bring further international exposure to the Event and we look forward to welcoming the team and drivers to the Mountain in February.”
AudiSport Team Joest Technical Director, Ralf Jüttner issued the following statement in relation to the announcement:
“For the structure of our new customer sport programme, Bathurst is certainly the perfect place to begin the season. Seeing the Audi R8 LMS in operation will certainly be a great experience for the fans.”
Although in recent years the Bathurst 12 Hour had been relegated to the domain of primarily amateur and gentlemen driver entries, organisers have openly expressed an intent to lure further international interest and, with the adoption of new regulations, aim to expand the depth of the field with additional factory-supported and professional entries in future years.
Up until recently the 12 Hour event had been restricted to a production-based field of Saloon and Touring entries. Only in recent times have organisers modified event regulations, allowing the inclusion of GT3 class machinery.
The 2011 rendition of the event will run from Februrary 4-6 and, for the first time, will see the 6.2KM circuit play host to a variety of world-class GT machinery, in addition to a thriving support field of production-based saloon and touring entries.