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Ex-Supercars driver makes Bathurst 12 Hour return

DANIEL Gaunt will return to Mount Panorama as a centrepiece of New Zealand team International Motorsport’s Bathurst 12 Hour tilt.

The 37-year-old’s experience at The Mountain includes four starts in the Bathurst 1000 for a best result of 12th (with Tim Slade in 2011) and a bizarre 2018 Bathurst 12 Hour in which he drove for both Audi and Porsche on race day.

On that occasion, Gaunt was called upon mid-race to cover for a suddenly unwell Brenton Grove, helping deliver a class win after the Audi he’d started the day in retired.

Now, Gaunt – who made solo Supercars starts for Team Kiwi Racing and Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport, and co-drove for Stone Brothers Racing and Kelly Racing – will team up with Dylan O’Keeffe and Andrew Fawcet in an Audi R8 GT3 Evo 2 across February 3-5.

“Obviously Dylan and Daniel have driven together before, I was racing against them the last time we raced here back in 2018, now we’re all together in the same entry,” said car owner Fawcet.

“Daniel and I had a good season in New Zealand aboard the McLaren in the endurance series, am looking forward to getting back into the Audi and seeing what we can all do together at Bathurst.

“It’s a long race, and as we all know, anything can happen. So, hoping for a clean weekend and to be there at the end.”

The International Motorsport Audi R8 GT3 Evo 2. Pic: Supplied

O’Keeffe is coming off a diverse 2022, having contested the Bathurst 1000 for PremiAir Racing, completed full campaigns in TCR Australia and Porsche Carrera Cup Australia, and raced in the Bathurst 6 Hour.

“Driving a GT3 car around Bathurst is such a mind-blowing experience – there’s nothing like plunging down through Sulman Park towards the metal grate at 200km/h with the concrete walls just centimetres away,” he said.

“You’re literally holding your breath and telling yourself to trust the downforce.

“Daniel and Andrew have both had plenty of recent seat time in GT3 cars, and I’ve done a lot of racing at Bathurst lately, so our combined knowledge will stand us in good stead for the 12 Hour.

“Like any endurance race, the key will be to stay out of trouble in the early stages and make sure we’re in a position to race hard at the finish.”

Meanwhile, 2022 event winners Jules Gounon, Luca Stolz and Kenny Habul will reunite for SunEnergy1 Racing, with Martin Konrad the only piece missing from the Mercedes outfit’s triumphant four-pronged line-up.

“It will be great to be able to defend the title with Jules and Luca who are both looking forward to having another crack at The Mountain,” said Habul.

“We are going to have an extremely busy couple of weeks with Daytona and Bathurst, but there is nothing else we’d rather be doing.

“The Bathurst 12 Hour is one of the best events in the international calendar and one of the best race tracks in the world.

“I have had very few moments in my racing life that were as special as standing on the top step of the podium there last year.

‘I guess you could call Mount Panorama my home track because one of my homes is right on Conrad Straight, which gives me a chance to have a little sleep in.

“We are going to have a busy couple of weeks with the Daytona 24 Hour and then jumping on my Global 6000 for Australia that night. It is going to be great.”

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