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Legends line up for Bathurst 12 Hour drives

MOTOGP legend Valentino Rossi helped attract a record crowd to the 2023 Bathurst 12 Hour, and there could be more big names on the way next year.  

Bathurst 12 Hour boss Shane Rudzis has revealed enquiries from other ‘legends of motorsport’ eager to tick Mount Panorama off their bucket lists.

The international GT3 rules help make the 12 Hour a logical target for any internationals – be they semi-retired world champions like Rossi or current stars – to experience Bathurst.

Rossi performed strongly aboard the #46 WRT BMW across the weekend and, according to Rudzis, his experience should only encourage others to the Mountain.

Rossi was hugely popular at Bathurst. Pic: Supplied

“Having a driver like Rossi here has been a good drawcard,” said Rudzis at Bathurst, where the crowd was peppered with Rossi fans wearing the Italian’s trademark yellow #46.

“There’s been a lot of enquiries from F1… We get a lot of guys coming to us saying they want to race at Bathurst.

“You can’t race in a Supercar, or it’s too hard in a Supercar to race here, the 6 Hour (production car race) is great but it’s too slow for them.

“You can do sim work in a GT3 car on the track in their simulators, get here and go and do the event.

“A lot of legends of motorsport have all been enquiring about it the last few months. Who knows, we may get some more people on the grid here.

Rossi’s BMW in the thick of the mid-race action. Pic: Supplied

“It’s a bucket list item for a lot of people to say, ‘I’ve raced at Bathurst’. We’ll be aiming to do what we can to attract them and get them over here.

“Rossi has already set the model… I think that puts us in a good position for him to come back in the future.

“And the word of mouth, he’ll go and talk to the people he knows and go ‘you’ve got come and do this event, it’s a really cool bucket list item’.”

The other big addition to the 2023 event was a Formula 1 demonstration from Red Bull Racing, in which a 2011-specification RB7 took to the track on Saturday.

As well as thrilling fans trackside, vision of the car lapping the iconic circuit spread widely online – including via the official F1 social media channels.

Formula 1 meets Mount Panorama. Pic: Supplied

Although enthusing over the 12 Hour’s newfound F1 link, Rudzis says his team must come up with other drawcards for next year and beyond.

“You’ve got to have those little jokers up your sleeve to go ‘what’s a cool thing we can do each year?’,” he said.

“This year it’s an F1 car, but if you keep doing it (with different F1 teams), you’re just changing the colour of the car really.

“What else can we bring in? We’ve talked about Group C Le Mans cars, and if we could get some of those cars here.

“This track is so unique that with one car on the track by itself, the noise it makes, the talkability we get, the fan reaction we get, that’s what we want.

“What other cars can we get on to deliver something cool like that, or what other technologies? We’re open to ideas.”

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