The Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour will undergo its second major eligibility shakeup in two years as it aims to position itself among the world's premiere endurance races.
As part of a new deal with Dubai 24 Hour, Barcelona 24 Hour and Hungary 12 Hour event promoters Creventic, the 2012 Bathurst 12 Hour will see a wide array of GT, touring cars and production cars eligible to race.
While class structures have not yet been finalised, GT3 cars will remain as the ‘outright' contenders, while two production classes will bring up the tail of the field.
The 2012 race date has been set for February 26 – allowing Dubai 24 Hour competitors to ship their cars to Australia in time for the race.
While the Bathurst race will not become part of Creventic's own endurance series, Bathurst 12 Hour event director James O'Brien believes that the Dutch company's assistance with freight packages and international marketing will lead to having more competitors on the grid.
“This is another step forward in establishing the Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour as one of the premier international endurance races,” said O'Brien.
“In our first year including GT vehicles in the eligibility structure, we attracted six international entrants including three from New Zealand, one from Ireland and the two-car Audi Race Experience team from Germany that would go on to finish 1-2 in the race.
“Our new partnership with Creventic allows us to broaden our horizons and reach a significant competitor base that already exists and regularly competes in this kind of race.
“We would hope that the result of this partnership is an increase of between 8-12 international entrants in the 2012 race to compliment a stronger domestic grid.”
Creventic spokesman Gerrie Williams believes that the Bathurst 12 Hour may soon be thought of with the same revere as Germany's Nurburgring 12 Hour.
“This is an opportunity for both parties to work together to expand both the Bathurst 12 hour and the 12/24 Hour series,” said Williams.
“With our cooperation we expect to add more international teams, so within three to five years the Bathurst 12 Hour will be mentioned alongside the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Dubai.
“We hope this is the first step towards a long-term relationship, resulting in an even stronger and more international grid for the Bathurst 12 Hour, and more ‘Aussies' at the start of the 24 Hours of Dubai.”
The 2011 Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour was dominated by a two-car Audi Race Experience squad run by Germany's famed Team Joest.