THEY came within 0.2 seconds of a Bathurst 12 Hour podium 12 months ago, so Supercars stars Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen are intent on claiming a trophy when they return to Mount Panorama.
It was revealed on Wednesday evening that Whincup and Van Gisbergen will once again steer the #888 Mercedes-AMG Team Triple Eight Race Engineering entry in the Bathurst 12 Hour.
While the man they shared a seat with last year when placing fourth in the prestigious enduro, Craig Lowndes, has made the switch to steer an Earl Bamber Motorsport Porsche, the team have found a more than adequate replacement.
Whincup and van Gisbergen will be joined by Maximilian Gotz, the German star who was part of the GruppeM Racing Mercedes team which placed third in the 2019 Bathurst 12 Hour.
It is a combination of car and drivers which has Whincup excited. He is hoping for a repeat of 2017 when he was part of the victorious Maranello Motorsport Ferrari entry.
"It's always exciting to get back to the mountain, no matter what you're driving, but to kick off the year at one of the best tracks in the world behind the wheel of an AMG GT3 is pretty special," Whincup, who was also a 12 Hour runner-up in 2018, said.
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"The event is getting bigger and better every year. I'm one of the most patriotic people you'll meet and it makes me really proud to see so many teams from around the world coming to Bathurst and holding it in such high regard.
"Everyone wants to win this race, so no doubt it's going to be ultra-competitive again this year."
While the Triple Eight entry was one of the best performed in last year's 12 Hour, the outfit is even better prepared for their 2020 assault on the Mount.
The team will once again run a Mercedes-AMG GT3 as they did in Bathurst 12 months ago, but this time brings with it the experience of having competed in the GT World Challenge Asia in 2019.
Van Gisbergen feels that will be an advantage as the team battle against some of the world's biggest GT3 teams and most talented drivers.
"I was lucky enough to do three of the six rounds of GT World Challenge Asia with Triple Eight last season, which was cool and definitely helps us coming into the Bathurst 12 Hour because we know the car that much better than this time last year," he said.
"It's cool to be teaming up with Maxi, his experience in the AMG will definitely be valuable.
"Last year's race came down to a battle between us and his car, which was really tough but awesome for the fans.
"With Jamie as well, I think we've got a really strong line-up. Hopefully we can put on a good show again this year, but come away with a trophy."
This year marks the first time that Triple Eight will compete independently in the Bathurst 12 Hour, which doubles as the opening round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
It will enjoy full factory support from Mercedes-AMG, as well as backing from Mann Filter and Johor Motorsports.
As well as fielding the #888 car in Class A Pro, Triple Eight is running the #777 Pro-Am entry, a Mercedes-AMG GT3 piloted by Yasser Shahin, brother Sam Shahin, Nick Foster and Anton de Pasquale.
The Bathurst 12 Hour runs from January 31 to February 2.