There's a rich tradition of Hollywood actors dabbling – some more seriously or successfully than others – in motor sports. Great names like Steve McQueen and the late Paul Newman instantly come to mind, but Eric Bana is aspiring to fill their considerable racing shoes. The star of Munich and Black Hawk Down has been campaigning his Porsche 996 Cup at various events, and is now gearing up to compete at one of his native Australia's biggest motor races: the WPS Bathurst 12 Hour.
The "once around the clock" race at Mount Panorama will feature a record 49 teams this year, driving Alfas, BMWs, Fords, Holdens, Hondas, Mazdas, Mitsubishis, Nissans, Porsches, Subarus and Toyotas – 12 marques in all, representing eight of the ten top-selling automakers in Australia. Pictured above with his Ford Falcon, star of his upcoming documentary Love the Beast, Bana will be driving a Mitsubishi Evolution X, competing alongside his team mates against V8 Supercar and Australian rally drivers, as well as local television personality Grant Denyer who is currently recovering from injuries sustained while driving a monster truck. No sign of the Top Gear Australia crew, though. Follow the jump for more details in the press release.
Star Studded Field For WPS Bathurst 12 Hour
Some of the biggest names in Australian motorsport are set to line up for the WPS Bathurst 12 Hour Showroom Enduro at Mount Panorama next month.
A total of 49 entries have been received for the February 20 – 22 Event with former Bathurst Champions Russell Ingall, John Bowe, Tony Longurst, Peter McLeod and Jason Bargwanna, V8 icons Glenn Seton, Brad Jones and Neil Crompton, reigning Fujitsu V8 Champion Steve Owen, Australian Rally Champions Neal Bates and Simon Evans and Australian actor turned racing driver Eric Bana all competing.
Bana, who has starred in such films as Chopper, Black Hawk Down, Hulk and Munich, has competed in several Targa Tasmania events and the Porsche Challenge previously but the WPS Bathurst 12 Hour Showroom Enduro will be the biggest race of the 40 year-old's racing career. He will compete in a Mitsubishi Evo X alongside Tim Leahey and Peter Hill.
"I'm thrilled to be able to compete in this Year's 12 Hour. Bathurst is an iconic track that I have always wanted to race at. Most of my racing has been on Victorian tracks so it will be a huge challenge," said Bana.
"Tim and Peter are great mates which will make the Event a lot of fun regardless of outcome. I've never raced a 4WD, so I look forward to getting to grips with the EVO. It will certainly be different to my 996 Cup Car."
Joining Bana at Mount Panorama next month will be television star Grant Denyer.
After spending the past six months recovering from a back injury suffered while driving a monster truck, the likeable 31 year-old will make his return to the driver's seat in the WPS Bathurst 12 Hour Showroom Enduro.
Denyer, who is the star of Channel 7's Australia's Got Talent and a former winner of Dancing with the Stars, is an established racer competing in the Bathurst 1000 and both 24-hour encounters held at Mount Panorama several years ago.
"After spending almost four months staring at the ceiling, I've been scratching my eyes out to return to racing," said Denyer.
"I had a scan yesterday and was given the full clearance to race subject to me being fully comfortable in the car.
"The WPS Bathurst 12 Hour is a great Event to get back behind the wheel at, it is a very enjoyable race with a heap of good drivers.
"We finished runner-up there last year, I think we missed out on the win by 23 seconds and this was after we copped three drive-through penalties during the race. So if we can keep out of trouble I think we're in for another good showing this year."
Event Director James O'Brien is delighted with the support shown by Australia's top level drivers for the once around the clock encounter which will see no less than 12 different marques competing.
The 49 entries received is a healthy increase on the 37 cars that took to the grid last year and represents an increase of 17 cars in the two years since the WPS Bathurst 12 Hour Showroom Enduro was rejuvenated in 2007.
"It is pleasing to see the increase in the overall numbers and also to see that eight of the top ten manufacturers by volume in Australia are represented at the Event," said O'Brien.
"The field for this year's WPS Bathurst 12 Hour is not only up on last year's but sees more competitors with a chance of outright victory.
"The Event has defied the current economic downturn, which can only be a good thing for the Australian motor sport industry and for the fans, with more cars, more marques, more drivers and as a direct result, stiffer competition all round on the cards for the 2009 Event.
"The wide variety of cars will certainly provide some interest with outright speed, race tactics, fuel strategy and team work all coming into play throughout the race."
The 2009 WPS Bathurst Showroom Enduro will be held at Mount Panorama on February 20-22.
The 2008 WPS 12 Hour Showroom Enduro attracted in excess of 100 drivers across 37 entries from various parts of Australia and New Zealand with the Mitsubishi Evo 9 of Damien White, Graham Alexander and Rod Salmon taking the victory.
For further enquires regarding the technical regulations in the WPS Bathurst Showroom Enduro please contact Jodi Zylstra – SPHERIX, phone 07 5667 7384 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For media enquires please contact Lee Hanatschek – BAM Media, phone 07 5563 1155 or email email@example.com
Tickets to 2009 WPS Bathurst 12 Hour Showroom Enduro
Patrons attending the 2009 Event are strongly encouraged to pre purchase their tickets through Ticketek in order to take advantage of the Advance Pricing. Patrons will only be able to purchase tickets through Ticketek up to and including Sunday 15 February 2009 after which patrons will need to purchase their tickets at the Gate – see prices below.
WPS Bathurst 12 Hour Showroom Enduro Ticket Prices
Friday GA Adult $15(Advance) $20(At the gate)
Friday GA Concession $10(Advance) $15(At the gate)
Saturday GA Adult $20(Advance) $25(At the gate)
Saturday GA Concession $15(Advance) $20(At the gate)
Sunday GA Adult $20(Advance) $25(At the gate)
Sunday GA Concession $15(Advance) $20(At the gate)
Three Day GA Adult $40(Advance) $50(At the gate)
Three Day GA Concession $30(Advance) $40(At the gate)
Three Day Covered Grandstand Adult $50(Advance) $60(At the gate)
Three Day Covered Grandstand Concession $40(Advance) $50(At the gate)
2009 WPS BATHURST 12 HOUR SHOWROOM ENDURO
Class A - High Performance Rear Wheel Drive
5 Holden HSV VY Series II Barrie Nesbitt Paul Freestone Robert Jones
11 BMW 335i Barry Morcom Luke Searle Paul Stubber
12 Holden HSV VY GTS Coupe Tony Alford Peter Leemhuis Mal Rose
20 BMW 335i Gary Holt Paul Morris Rick Shaw
32 Holden VE R8 Clubsport Gerard Keogh tbc tbc
tbc Holden VE R8 Clubsport Shaun Keogh tbc tbc
51 Holden HSV VZ GTO Coupe Ian Tulloch John Sax Connel McLaren
69 Holden HSV VY GTS Coupe Todd Zani John O'Dowd Jim Pollicina
71 Holden HSV VY Series II David Mertins Leigh Mertins Steve Cramp
99 Ford Falcon FG GT-P Nathan Tinkler Nathan Callagham tbc
tbc Holden R8 Clubsport Marty Miller Kerry Millar tbc
tbc Holden HSV R8 Sportwagon Russell Ingall Nathan Pretty Andy Jones
Class B - High Performance Sports
15 Nissan 350Z Track Z33 Josh Hunt Jonathan Webb Paul Stokell
10 Lotus Exige Mark O'Connor tbc tbc
Class C - High Performance All Wheel Drive
tbc Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evo X Rod Salmon Tony Longhurst Damien White
3 Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evo IX Steven Jones Kerry Wade Aaron Caratti
9 Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evo X Charlie Holings George Meidecke Nathan Caratti
22 Subaru Impreza WRX Sti Chris Delfsma David Wood Gary Tierney
25 Subaru Impreza WRX Sti Craig Baird Lee Castle Rodney Forbes
26 Subaru Impreza WRX Sti Paul Kelly Dean Grant Max Twigg
29 Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evo VIII Tony Quinn Klark Quinn Grant Denyer
33 Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evo X Mark King Bob Pearson Bruce Stewart
34 Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evo X Jason Bargwanna Neil Crompton Brad Jones
35 Mitubishi Lancer RS Evo X Glenn Seton Steve Knight tbc
43 Mitsubishi Lacer GSR Evo IX David Wall Des Wall Trevor Symonds
44 Subaru Impreza WRX Sti Jim Hunter John Bowe Gavin Bullas
55 Mitsubuishi Lancer RS Evo X Glyn Crimp Tony Ricciardello Stuart Kostura
91 Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evo VIII Anton Mechtler Jason Walsh Mark Brame
96 Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evo IX James Koundouris Theo Koundouris Steve Owen
tbc Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evo X Tim Leahey Peter Hill Eric Bana
Class D - Hot Hatch Performance Cars
36 Mazda 3 MPS 3A Jake Camilleri Scott Nicholas
27 BMW 130i Alan Shepard Peter O'Donnell
28 BMW 130i Greg Ross tbc
Class E - Production Sedans
8 Ford XR8 FG Glen Kenny Corey Baldock Tom Todd
17 Ford XR6 TURBO Jason Tremeer Craig Tremeer Troy Stone
18 Ford XR6 TURBO Alan Letcher Clint Harvey Malcom Nial
24 Holden Commodore SS VZ Garth Walden Brian Walden Michael Auld
94 Ford BF Richard Howe Dennis O'Keefe Dean Neville
Class F - Production Sports
13 Toyota Celica ZR Colin Osborne Neal Bates Simon Evans
14 Honda Integra type S Peter Conroy Carl Schembri Richard Gartner
21 Honda Integra type S Terry Conroy Lee Burgess Leanne Tander
31 Toyota Celica ZR John Rocken Stuart Jones Trevor Keene
50 Holden Astra Sri Gerard McLeod Peter McLeod Ryan McLeod
Class G - Micro Sedans and Hatches
66 Subaru Impreza 2.5 Heather Spurle Christina Orr Molly Taylor
88 Subaru Impreza 2.0R Matthew Windsor Steve Sheils Paul Newman
Class H - Eco Diesel/Hybrid 3.5 litre and Over
76 Alfa Romeo 159 JTD Kean Booker Rocco Rinnaldo David Stone
Class I - Eco Diesel/Hybrid Under 3.5 litre
77 Alfa Romeo 147 JTD David Filipetto Nathan Gotch tbc
tbc Holden Astra CDTi Nigel Barclay tbc tbc
Class J - Sports Utility Vehicles & V8 Utes
47 Holden SS VE UTE Grant Johnson Jeff Watts