Having shown great pace over the last few editions of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour, Melbourne’s M-Motorsport are heading into the 2016 running of the event intent on taking the fight to the top teams as the first major GT3 event of the year gets underway in just over one week’s time.
With two experienced Bathurst V8 Supercar campaigners behind the wheel combined with the two drivers that will lead the team in the Australian GT Championship and the Australian Endurance Championship, team-owner Justin McMillan believes the Interlloy/Wilson Storage Lamborghini has the right mix of experience and speed.
“Over the last couple of years at Bathurst we’ve been right in the mix early, and have actually led the race, so we have that experience to draw on,” he explained.
“Experienced Bathurst campaigners Dale Wood and John McIntyre will anchor the team, whilst Dale’s younger brother Glen and I will back them up.
“Dale always rises to the occasion in the Bathurst 1000 and he was fast when he drove with us ahead of our shortened race in 2014, whilst John has proven fast on the mountain in the past and was strong there last year in the Trass Family Ferrari.
“As for Glen, well he’s been a revelation since joining the team last year where he was quick at Sydney, Sandown and Highlands, and whilst he’s not competed at Bathurst before, he was quick in New Zealand last year despite having no prior event experience, and actually handed me the car in the lead in the AGT final. He’s also got Dale to draw on for experience, and we’ve got a bit of time to dial ourselves in with more than five hours practice.
“I’ve been quicker every time I’ve been there with 2016 my fifth Bathurst event, and I’m happy to say I’ve completed every session I’ve started.
“We’re also going to run our incumbent Gallardo FL2 as opposed to the new Extenso that is on its way from Reiter Engineering right now. Potential delays and issues with running a brand new car with no time to test ahead of the event ultimately made the decision for us.
“We saw last year in the final rounds of AGT that the FL2 was as quick as anything else in the field, and it’s a known product, we’ve been running one for three seasons now.
“After the fire at Highlands which was mostly superficial, the car has had a complete birthday and is almost new and good to go. We’ve tested, and both Glen and I had some pretty serious pace at Phillip Island, so I think it’s going to be an exceptional event for the M-Motorsport/Interlloy team.”
For the younger Wood, despite his success in a variety of cars over the years, this year’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour will be his maiden race on ‘the Mountain’.
“I’ve done plenty of laps on foot with track walks over the years, and a lot of miles on the simulator, but I expect it’s all going to be very different the first time out the gate.
“Fortunately I’ve done quite a few miles in the car now, and am pretty relaxed behind the wheel, so that’s an advantage, it will just come down to logging laps ahead of the race.
“I’m excited but 100% aware of the challenge, and at Bathurst there are so many of them - from managing traffic, to patience, to knowing when to charge and when to conserve, there’s going to be a lot to take in, but I’m fortunate to have Dale’s experience to draw on, and I’m sure John and Justin will have plenty of tips for me too.
“It’s funny too - despite the fact that Dale has plenty of V8 Supercar miles around Bathurst, he’s never actually driven a race lap in the Gallardo, despite having been entered for the 2014 12-Hour and the Highlands 101 last year. On both occasions the car was retired before he got a chance to turn any race miles, so I know he’s pumped about getting behind the wheel and having a real crack at the Mountain in anger.
“I can’t wait to get there, and I can’t thank my supporters enough - especially Wilson Storage - for the chance to not just join the team for Bathurst, but also the complete Australian GT and Australian Endurance Championship events this year in the new Extenso, it’s going to be a season to remember!”
For McIntyre, a return to Bathurst 12-months after making his GT3 debut at the mountain, comes a chance to fulfill the promise he showed in the Trass Family Ferrari, and the experienced Touring Car veteran is looking forward to rejoining the M-Motorsport team.
“Any time you get to drive a GT3 spec car around Bathurst is a highlight of your racing career.” McIntyre admitted. “I am already incredibly excited to go to Bathurst again. My expectations will really only formalise as we go through the weekend because it is such a different environment in regards to the circuit, cars, mix of teams and drivers and the crazy changing conditions like driving in the dark avoiding Kangaroos!
“We do have a very strong driver line-up. Everyone is either experienced at Bathurst or experienced in the #48 Gallardo or a combination of both. Last year I went there with a rookie team with two rookies drivers and after eight hours we were well in contention for a top 10. But we didn’t finish so it was all theoretical. If we can keep the car clean for 11.5 hours we will be in the top 10 and with a genuine chance of a podium in the AM category.” Opening practice for the 2016 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour gets underway at 8:20am on Friday, 5 February, with the first of five practice sessions totaling five and a half hours ahead of qualifying on Saturday afternoon and the main event - the Bathurst 12-Hour -which begins in the early morning light at 5:45am on Sunday, 7 February.
The 2016 event will be broadcast LIVE on Channel 7 and 7mate (check local guides for details).
Keep up to date with the M-Motorsport/Interlloy race team from Bathurst by visiting; www.facebook.com/MMotorsportGT3
2016 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour (5-7 February, 2016)
Schedule: [AEDT]Friday, 5 February
8:20am - Practice #1 (30-minutes)
8:55am - Practice #2 (60-minutes) 12:30pm - Practice #3 (90-minutes) 3:45pm - Practice #4 (90-minutes)
Saturday, 6 February
8:30am - Practice #5 (60-minutes)
12:55pm - Qualifying #1 (60-minutes)
2:05pm - Qualifying #2 (20-minutes)
Sunday, 7 February
5:45am - Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour