The Mercedes-AMG GT R is set to headline a production car showdown at this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour.
Three sessions have been set aside across the race weekend for professional drivers to get behind the wheel of road cars and push them to the limit in the hope of claiming production lap records around the iconic Mountain circuit.
The new initiative was introduced as a way for manufacturers to put the road-going siblings of the GT3 cars which headline the event on track in front of the fans.
It could also turn Mount Panorama into the southern-hemisphere’s Nurburgring (a track it is already likened to heavily by international drivers), with manufacturers battling for lap-record bragging rights.
Mercedes-Benz is airfreighting an AMG GT R to Australia for German ace Bernd Schneider to wield around The Mountain. It’s also believed Ferrari, BMW, and Audi will be involved in the sessions.
The 12 Hour currently has a bumper field of GT3 cars, with Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Lamborghini, McLaren, Nissan Nismo, AMG, Ferrari and Porsche all represented in the field.
The current lap record at Mount Panorama is held by Shane van Gisbergen, set during qualifying at last year’s 12 Hour in the McLaren 650s GT3. The 2:01.5670 lap is under threat this year, though it’s unlikely to be matched by the road cars.
There are murmurings amongst the paddock that a sub 2-minute GT3 lap time may be possible if the conditions are right, so expect drivers to be pushing to the absolute limit as they hope to break the fabled barrier.
The production car sessions will be held under race conditions, for road registerable cars, and are reserved for FIA gold or platinum ranked drivers.
The closest thing to a current production car record is the 2:28.53 set by Garth Walden in a Group 3E Series Production Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG race car.
This article was first published by Wheels Magazine.
Tickets to the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 hour range from $20 to $249, or you can watch all the action on the Seven Network from 3 to 5 February.