The world’s most exotic sports racing cars will descend on Melbourne next month when the Australian GT Championship takes to the sweeping Albert Park circuit in support of the 2017 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.
From the mighty Mercedes, ferocious Ferrari and beautiful Bentley, nine of the world’s leading manufacturers will be represented on grid, making for a diverse and eclectic collection of shapes, sounds and colour.
GT3 racing has become a sensation internationally and as interest in the category rises ever further, Australia boasts the fastest growing and strongest national competition anywhere in the world.
With a combined value in excess of $20million, the cars are state of the art masterpieces designed to duke it out on track, while remaining loyal to their road-going beginnings.
In many instances their roots can be traced to Formula 1, with three of the motor racing’s most successful names going toe-to-toe in sports car racing.
Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren have vied for on-track supremacy at the sport’s highest level in recent seasons, a battle which has been rekindled in GT racing as the trio produce world class GT racers.
McLaren has developed the incredible 650S GT3, which last year claimed five race wins with four different driver combinations, capping off the year with the Australian GT Championship courtesy of Klark Quinn.
Strapped to the back of the driver’s seat is a McLaren-developed turbo-charged eight-cylinder engine with a Formula 1 style carbon-fibre chassis unpinning the state-of-the-art design.
Mercedes has taken a different approach, bolting its own highly-tuned V8-engine to the front in their pursuit of performance, the normally-aspirated eight-cylinder engine produces an almost seismic rumble from the long, sleek bonnet.
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 was unveiled to the world in Australia last year, before Craig Baird handed the German marque its first win with the car at Albert Park following a wheel-to-wheel battle with Audi superstar Christopher Mies.
It’s pushed hard by the Ferrari 488 GT3, which last year made its global competition debut at Albert Park.
The brand-new car marks the first time the iconic Maranello manufacturer has produced a twin-turbo V8 since the famous Ferrari F40 a generation ago, with the Ferrari 488 GT3 the successor to the successful 458 Italia GT3.
Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren won’t have it all their own way though, with another six of the world’s leading brands also ready to go to battle in a packed 35-car field which also includes the latest Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Porsche 911 GT3 R, Audi R8 LMS, Aston Martin Vantage V12, BMW M6 GT3 and Bentley Continental GT3.
Developed in-house by those at Lamborghini, the Huracan GT3 couples racing performance with the Italian marque’s famous styling to create a sleek, aggressive looking racer which sports a boisterous V10 mid-mounted engine.
Fans attending the 2017 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix will experience the Shannons Australian GT Championship round across all four days of the event, with qualifying and the first of four races on Thursday, March 23.
Fans will see some of Australia’s great drivers participating including multiple Bathurst winners, Steve Richards (BMW M6 GT3) and John Bowe (Bentley Continental GT3), Craig Baird (Mercedes-AMG GT3), Cameron McConville (Lamborghini Huracan GT3) and the first female in the GT Championship, Melinda Price.
Three more 25-minute races across the weekend will see the 35-car Australian GT field on track with fans able to get up and close with the exotic cars when not out on track by visiting the Coates Hire Supercars Village precinct.