• Enormous interest in first ever Challenge Bathurst draws more than 320 competitors
  • Top level teams to tackle Lightning Super Sprint with GT3 vehicles
  • Entry level Thunder regularity attracts competitors from across Australia.

AN ENORMOUS response to the inaugural Challenge Bathurst will see more than 320 cars and drivers descend on Mount Panorama later this November.

The enormous field of cars has been split across three groups of 40 contesting the Lightning Super Sprint and five groups of competitors, totalling 202 cars, who will tackle the two-day Thunder Regularity.

120 cars will contest the Lightning Super Sprint sessions and many of them are major players in the Australian Motorsport landscape.

In what is set to be an unofficial two-day test for the upcoming Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour and the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour enduros, the Lightning field is filled with exotic machinery and a host of current-specification GT3 machinery.

The ‘B’ group of Lightning competitors is set to be a remarkable competition with a host of big names involved – a majority of the major GT teams running in the middle group of three.

BMW Team SRM will run two of their Bathurst 12-hour bound M6 GT3s, while Morgan Haber will drive a third BMW run by the MARC Cars Australia outfit. Bathurst winners Tony Longhurst, Mark Skaife, Steven Richards and Russell Ingall are all anticipated to be part of the BMW squad taking to the Mountain.

MARC Cars Australia has also entered five of their popular Ford Focus / Mazda 3-bodied endurance racers.

Walkinshaw Performance will run their Porsche 911 GT3R at Bathurst for the first time, while Ferrari 488 teams Maranello Motorsport and Vicious Rumour Racing will each run their latest-and-greatest 488 GT3s, with Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup likely to steer the Maranello entry alongside owner Peter Edwards.

Andrew Miedecke will steer his stunning V12-powered Aston Martin Vantage GT3 while a remarkable field of 12 Porsche GT3 Cup Cars includes noted Carrera Cup and GT3 Cup Challenge racers Stephen Grove and son Brenton, Jaxon Evans, Tim Miles, Sam Shahin and Adam Wallis.

Australian GT regular Mark Griffith will also be the first to test the stunning Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 at the Mountain.

Meanwhile, Carey McMahon will drive his ex-Tony Longhurst B&H Ford Sierra RS500 Group A car in preparation for the return of Heritage Touring Cars to the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour program next Easter. Several Radical SR3s will also take to the track ahead of their slot on the 12hr program next February.

Meanwhile, a total of 202 entries were attracted to the Thunder Regularity, to be split across five groups of approximately 40 cars each.

Where the Lightning Sprint caters to a more competitive ‘fastest lap time’ oriented group of competitors, the Thunder regularity is targeted towards people who otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to tackle the Mountain.

The enormously eclectic group of vehicles entered is split amongst a remarkable 29 different manufacturers and more than 50 models, travelling from every mainland state and the ACT.