2020 Bathurst 12 Hour (Round 1, Intercontinental GT Challenge)
Grove Motorsport’s 2020 racing season kicks off at this weekend’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour as the team makes the leap into the outright class for the Intercontinental GT Challenge season opener.
The Melbourne-based outfit, a four-time winner of the race in Class B, is gearing up to tackle the Mount Panorama endurance race for the first time in Class A for GT3 machinery.
Drivers Stephen Grove, Brenton Grove, and Ben Barker will steer a Porsche 911 GT3 R under the Grove Racing banner with support from close partners Herberth Motorsport.
Track action begins on Friday with FP1 for bronze and silver-rated drivers at 08:40 local time immediately followed by FP2 at 09:15.
Four practice sessions take place across Friday in total, with FP3 at 12:20 and FP4 to close out the day 15:05.
Saturday’s running features a fifth practice session at 08:45 ahead of a pair of qualifying hit-outs, the first of which begins at 12:40.
There will be a Top 10 Shootout on Saturday evening to decide the pointy end of the grid for Sunday’s 12-hour race which will see the green flag at 05:45.
“It’s massively exciting to step up into the GT3 class this year at Bathurst; operationally and logistically it’s been no different to any other year. This year will be more about fine-tuning our processes and making sure we don’t make any little mistakes. The competition will be tighter than ever so we need to ensure we’re on the top of our game.
I think it’s a massive benefit that the driver line-up is consistent. We all understand our role within the team and get on really well so it’s exciting to take our crew and have a crack outright. Obviously we are wanting to ensure we do a good job. From strategy to the pit stops to the drivers, we are all trying to maximise ourselves and from there the results will sort themselves.”
“For us, this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour is quite similar to previous years in terms of planning and preparations, the difference being the extra gear needed to run a Class A car. We have a strong technical partnership with Herberth Motorsport which will see us utilise their car, their fuel rig, tyre ovens, etc. Those are the smaller things that are different to what we’ve needed before. Beyond that it’s also about the presentation as obviously there will be a lot more eyes on us. Trying to ensure all the I’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. It’s really a culmination of 5 or 6 year’s work. We’ve always entered the event but you’d be lying if you said there wasn’t a desire to go to Class A. So to be there now with a familiar team in a familiar car with a strong driver line-up is really exciting.
“I think the car specific support Herberth bring will be invaluable for the weekend but the Grove Motorsport crew we have assembled from engineers to mechanics are also extremely experienced. I strongly believe every team member provides some unique bit of experience that makes it quite a strong crew for the weekend. As Stephen said the only goal is to maximise. From P1 to pit stop practice to race start to race finish if we are all able to maximise what we’re doing, I think we will be there or thereabouts come the end of the race.”
“It’s really exciting and a really good opportunity to have a proper crack at a good overall result. In previous years we’ve been in the Cup car which was really fun because that car suits that track but obviously the competition is in GT3 really, that’s where it’s really hard to cut the butter. Giving it a go this year is really exciting.
“We’re all ready for it, we’ve had enough knowledge of the track over the years together as a team. As a team Stephen, Brenton and I are very strong and a very familiar lineup, also with the team, mechanics, engineers, all very familiar people so that really helps to get a race performance to be honest. With all our experience together we can definitely take the pressure of a GT3 car and really have a good go and I think expectation for result is going to be eyes on the Pro-Am win, but also try and get a decent top 10 overall result, top 8 would be even better; it all depends on the race itself and how many safety cars there are. The idea and the ideal situation is to stay on the lead lap. Overall we’ve got a very strong package and we all know the track very well, so using all of that I think we stand ourselves a great chance.”