Shane van Gisbergen's B12 Hour Mercedes is a gorgeous throwback
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February's Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour is one of the fastest growing endurance events on the planet, with the level of international interest expanding exponentially on an annual basis. But even in these early days, this newly revealed combination might be the standout favourite for next year's race.
It's been confirmed that Triple Eight racers Shane van Gisbergen, Jamie Whincup, and Craig Lowndes will be teaming up in a Scott Taylor Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3. And it will sport the backing of Vodafone — a throwback of sorts for fans of the team.
“It’s amazing to team up with these guys. Working alongside them in the race team has been awesome, but getting to drive with them will be a pretty special moment for me,” said van Gisbergen.
“I think every year the event gets bigger and bigger. More European teams and drivers come out, more Australian Supercars guys jump in it too and it just seems to get tougher and tougher every year and the fans support that.
“Hopefully it’s an even bigger race next year and we can put on a good show.”
Each driver has won the Bathurst 12 Hour in the past at some stage. Lowndes and Whincup won it together with Toni Vilander in 2017 with a Ferrari 488 GT3, while van Gisbergen won it the previous year in a factory-run McLaren 650S GT3. But, this will be the first time they'll all be vying for victory together.
“It’s sort of like the old rat pack back together again, although we’ve got Shane on board,” said Lowndes,who will be retiring from full-time Supercars Championship competition at the end of 2018.
“The car has lots of memories of when we had Vodafone on the Supercar, but it’s great to see the old colours back, great memories for that era. Hopefully the three of us can do Vodafone, Scott Taylor Motorsport and Triple Eight very proud.
“To have all three of us in one car is very strong. The car for me, I’ll need to get my head around it, but I’m sure that’ll come pretty quickly.”
Yes, as Lowndes' mentioned, the relationship between Vodafone and Triple Eight is a well-known one. The telecoms company signed up with the team in 2007, when they were still considered an 'up and comer' in the Supercars framework — having only just won their first Bathurst 1000 the previous year.
What followed was a six-year partnership that saw Triple Eight become a true powerhouse in Australian Motorsport while sporting the familiar red-and-chrome look. There were four Bathurst wins (including the second and third in a row for the team in 2007 and 2008, plus the one-two finish of 2010), as well as four championships — all of them going to Jamie Whincup.
“I’m looking forward to teaming up with Lowndesy again, but both years Shane has been opposition for me, so it’s good to be in the same team for an all-out assault,” he said.
“All the elements are there for a good show, but I’m just looking forward to bringing all that good that Triple Eight has, STM do a fantastic job and combining all that, we’re confident we can do a good job.”