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Jan 20, 2014 - 06:32 AM
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Erebus Motorsport GT Reveal Impressive 12-Hour Driver Line-Up
Posted by: newsla on Jan 20, 2014 - 06:30 AM
Sports Cars
Erebus Motorsport GT Reveal Impressive 12-Hour Driver Line-Up


Erebus Motorsport GT have revealed an impressive array of drivers for the defence of their Bathurst 12-Hour crown. Car #1 led by legendary German touring car and sportscar star Bernd Schneider will be an all-German affair after it was announced that Maro Engel and rising AMG Customer Sports driver Nico Bastian would join the reigning champion. In car #63 it will again be an all-Australian affair, with new Erebus Motorsport recruit Will Davison joined by Erebus Academy graduate Jack Le Brocq and former Australian GT round winner Greg Crick.

 

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“It’s an outstanding lineup, no question,” Daniel Klimenko, Team Principal of Erebus Motorsport GT admitted. “With the rules the way they are, it’s always a juggle to find the right mix of drivers with the right credentials, especially given the more stringent driver seeding rules this year.

“To have Bernd and Maro sharing car #1 with Nico will be impressive enough, but consider Will, Jack and Greg Crick in car #63! It’s fantastic to have worked with Jack through the Erebus Academy and see him step into the drive alongside Will, they will be a formidable combination, but don’t discount Cricky, he’s still very quick and he knows how to get around Bathurst.”

For Schneider, the addition of Engel and Bastian will only firm their position as one of the outright favourites. Both Engel and Schneider have raced, and won with Erebus Motorsport GT, and both are intimately acquainted with Mount Panorama.

23-year old Bastian however will be a Bathurst rookie, but he’s no rookie when it comes to the all-conquering SLS AMG GT3, the young German claiming a third placed finish in the grueling 24 Hours of Nürburgring last May with the Rowe Racing team (SLS AMG), where he drove alongside 2013 Bathurst 12-Hour winner Thomas Jaeger.

"I`m very proud and thankful to be a part of the Erebus Motorsport GT team,” Bastian admitted from his home in Germany. “The team won last year at Bathurst, so we have a big mission ahead of us to defend the title and the number on the side of the car!

“I think the driver line-up of both cars is very strong and competitive, so we can say, that the mission is not a ‘mission impossible’!

“For me it is a dream come true. It´s my first time in Australia and on Mount Panorama - I can’t wait, I´m really looking forward to it!"

Whilst Bastian comes to the event as a rookie, Engel had spent much of 2013 competing in V8 Supercars, so has enjoyed significant track time at Mount Panorama. He may have had just one start in the SLS AMG GT3 during the City of Dreams Macau GT Cup late last year, but he showed he’d lost none of his customary pace in the ‘Gullwing’, setting a stunning pole time and a new track record before retiring late in the race after debris cut down a tyre - he was leading by more than two seconds at the time.

“That was frustrating, but as they say, that’s motor racing..” he reflected. “It was nice to get back in the SLS and be immediately competitive. To set a new record pole time, and break the lap record was a great result, and we showed that we were more than capable of winning the race despite it being just our first visit to Macau.

“Can we win the 12-Hour again, for sure, but there is more to it than just speed, but the team have the experience, they have the best car and we have some outstanding drivers, so it’s going to make things easier, but Bathurst is Bathurst, and it’s 12-Hours of attack, so we will see what comes.”

For Jack Le Brocq, his inclusion in the #63 car comes on the back of two stunning drives during the 2013 Australian GT Championship when he piloted the Erebus Motorsport GT team to record breaking wins at both Phillip Island and Sydney Motorsport Park, on both occasions slashing the existing category lap record.

“I had so much fun driving the two Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3’s last year,” Le Brocq smiled on reflection of what had been a complete decimation of the field. “I felt I had some unfinished business though, so what better way to complete my graduation from the Erebus Academy than to drive alongside Will and Greg at Bathurst. I couldn’t be happier, and to have two such experienced campaigners alongside me and 2013 12-Hour pole-sitter Lee Holdsworth coaching me in the pits will only further my development as a driver.”

Whilst a rookie in the SLS at Bathurst, Le Brocq’s Mount Panorama credentials are impressive, the former national Formula Ford champion took three wins from three starts during his championship winning season at Bathurst, and he also ran strongly during his Erebus Academy Formula 3 debut on the mountain at Easter last year, but the SLS AMG will present a whole different set of circumstances.

“Of course, it’s a faster car than the Formula Ford and a bigger car than the F3, but it’s Bathurst, so it’s experience that will count, and between Will ,Greg and Lee, there will be plenty of knowledge for me to call on.”

For Greg Crick, the former Sports Sedan and tarmac rally champion makes a return to the mountain for the 12-Hour after previously contesting the event in 2011, the ‘veteran’ finishing fourth alongside David Wall.

His inclusion is somewhat of a master-stroke by the Erebus team, as the former GT front-runner is unseeded, but like fellow Tasmanian John Bowe, has lost little of his customary pace.

“There’s still life in us old dogs yet,” he laughed when questioned about his role with the Erebus team. “We started discussions about it mid-year, and to be honest I wasn’t sure what they saw in me.. jokingly I suggested that I’d jump in for the Safety Car periods or during the lunch break, but then I saw what they were up to with the seeding and I started to get serious.

“For me, at this stage of my career to be handed the keys of arguably the best car in GT competition, I was blown away, and extremely honoured. I drove another modern GT car recently and couldn’t believe how good it was, the aero grip especially. I’ve been studying the footage of the SLS and can see where it has the advantage, and it’s a significant advantage, it really is the best in the business.

“I love Bathurst, but I’ve always gone along as the privateer underdog, with equipment not quite up to the task, and fortunately I’ve done okay. Now here I am, in the closing stages of my career with the best car in the field, so I’m not about to miss the opportunity to keep the car in one piece for Will and Jack to go after the win.”

“Whilst Greg might consider himself to be an ‘old stager’ now, he’s still an incredibly quick driver, he’s shown that every time he’s gotten in the car,” Daniel Klimenko added. “Frustratingly for us, he’s been a great nemesis in recent years, so it will be a real treat to have him in one of our cars giving the opposition a headache for a change [laughs].”

“We’re serious about defending our title,” Barry Ryan, Erebus Motorsport’s General Manager of Motorsport said of his star driver lineup. “A lot of thought has gone into our program for this year, and a lot of internal discussion. We’d have loved to have had 2013 pole-sitter Lee Holdsworth in a car, but the driver seedings just didn’t allow it, but he’ll be there working with all of the drivers to assist them across the weekend.

“He’ll also be on board to work with Erebus Academy recruit Jack Le Brocq to give him every opportunity to continue winning in the SLS.

“We’re ready. We have a scheduled test this week at Phillip Island and we will shake the cars down and bed in everything we need ahead of Bathurst and make sure the drivers are confortable. It’s going to be a big weekend!”

Opening practice for the 2014 Bathurst 12-Hour will get underway at 8:55am on Friday, February 7.


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