IT may never rise to the same level as the Bathurst 1000, but the annual Bathurst 12 Hour race is gaining more prestige on the international motor sport calendar.
Held each February, the endurance race sees teams across four classes lap the mount continually until they reach the 12-hour mark.
Richard Craill, the event’s media manager, said the 12 Hour has grown steadily in recent years in both entries and crowd numbers.
“Last year the event attracted 41,610 spectators, which was an increase of three per cent on the previous year,” he said.
“Since 2015 the event has had a nearly 28 per cent increase in attendance, which shows how fans are embracing the race and the Bathurst region each February.”
- READ MORE:Bathurst 12 Hours 2018 | Photos
Entries for the 2019 event opened several weeks ago and already an international team has confirmed its entry.
Mr Craill said the response has been pleasing so far.
“Our first official entries were received from R-Motorsport, a Switzerland-based team who are going to bring a pair of Aston Martin V12 Vantage cars and will be going for the outright win,” he said.
“They’ve been here before and won the GT4 category so it’s great to see teams coming back to try and win the big trophy.
“We’re very confident of another great field of the world’s best cars and drivers and a lot of local talent, too.”
The appeal for drivers is the opportunity to race on Mount Panorama, which is widely considered as one of the best in the world.
It presents challenges from the constant twists and turns, as well as the changing elevation.
“For overseas drivers and teams, it’s the lure of competing at Mount Panorama. It’s iconic worldwide and the race has a great global audience now – everyone wants to be part of it,” Mr Craill said.
“[The 12 Hour is] the longest race in Australia and one of the most challenging so drivers from here want to be part of it and strut their stuff on an international stage, which they often can’t do at such a level in Australia.”
The fans, whether they are at the track or watching a broadcast, also love seeing racing unfold on Mount Panorama.
“Local fans love seeing their heroes from the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship racing different cars, but also racing against some of the top GT racing drivers from around the world and showing how good they are,” Mr Craill said.
“A 50-car grid with more than 10 different brands involved is also a massive drawcard, especially when those brands include Audi, Porsche, Mercedes-AMG, Ferrari and more.”
To find out more about the 12 Hour or to purchase tickets for 2019, visit www.bathurst12hour.com.au.