Audi announces Bathurst drivers

Audi Sport has announced its full lineup of drivers for this year's Bathurst 12 Hour.

Celebrating 10 years since winning its first Bathurst 12 Hour, Audi Sport customer racing will field a strong driver lineup in 2020 as it looks for its fourth victory at The Mountain.

Mark Horsburgh

14 January, 2020

Audi Sport has announced its full driver lineup for the coming Bathurst 12 Hour, with a mixture of familiar faces and some new to the mix for the 10th anniversary of the brand’s inaugural victory at Mount Panorama.

Since that initial victory in 2011, Audi has added another two wins to become the most successful manufacturer in the modern era of the series, so this anniversary is a particularly special one for the brand and one it would like to seal with a fourth win.

To that end, a very strong group of drivers have been assembled to drive the three Audi Sport Team Valvoline R8 LMS cars this year to take on a record field of manufacturers from around the globe at the end of the month. The Bathurst 12 Hour also marks the first of five races in the International GT Challenge (IGTC), the only worldwide GT3 racing series which Audi has won for the past five years in a row – so expect big things from Audi this year.

“Our 10th appearance at Bathurst marks a very special occasion. In 2011, 2012 and 2018, we won there with three different teams. Now we’re aiming for our fourth success with Audi Sport Team Valvoline,” says Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing.

Audi holds the record in the Bathurst 12 Hour with three victories

Christopher Mies has won the 12 hour race twice, while teammate Garth Tander has three Bathurst 1000s to his name

The lineup is impressive to say the least. Winner of the 2011 and 2012 Bathurst 12 hour races as well as the 2015 Australian GT Championship, Audi Sport driver Christopher Mies will team up with local hero Garth Tander in car # 22 along with newcomer, Mirko Bortolotti who is new to the Audi Sport ranks this year and makes his Bathurst debut. Tander is of course no stranger to the Mountain, having won the Bathurst 1000 three times and has driven in the 12 hour event for the Audi last five years. Although victory in the 12 hour has thus far eluded him, he and Geoff Emery won the Australian Endurance Championship in 2019 in an Audi R8 LMS, and Tander’s skill and competitive spirit are well known to Australian motorsport fans.

Christopher Mies won for Audi in 2011 and 2012.
Local hero Garth Tander is still looking for his first 12 Hour win.
Newcomer Mirko Bortolotti, will make his Bathurst debut.

In car #2, Belgian Audi Sport drivers Dries Vanthoor and Frédéric Vervisch – both of them last year’s winners of the Nürburgring 24 Hours and the Suzuka 10 Hours – will be sharing a cockpit with their Audi Sport colleague Christopher Haase. The German has previously won the 24-hour races at the Nürburgring, at Spa and in Dubai, but despite setting pole position at Bathurst, a victory is still missing on Haase’s track record. Dries Vanthoor on the other hand was on the team that was victorious in 2018, so will be looking to add another victory to his impressive tally.

Rounding out the Audi Sport Team Valvoline assault in #222, Kelvin van der Linde from South Africa and the German Markus Winkelhock – also previous winners of the Nürburgring 24 Hours – will be joined by 21-year-old Italian Mattia Drudi who will be debuting in Australia for Audi Sport this year.

“It’s arguably one of the best Audi driver lineups for a three-car team ever assembled,” says Audi Sport Team Valvoline’s Steve McLaughlan.

“It’s arguably one of the best Audi driver lineups for a three-car team ever assembled,” says Audi Sport Team Valvoline’s Steve McLaughlan

Dries Vanthoor was part of the winning team in 2018.
Frédéric Vervisch was last year’s winner of the Nürburgring 24 Hours and the Suzuka 10 Hours.
Christopher Haase is still chasing his first Bathurst 12 Hour win.

A total of five Audi R8 LMS cars will compete, with Team Hallmarc contesting Pro-Am and Tony Bates Racing competing in the Silver Class

“That’s three very competitive cars, any of which is capable of a podium finish, and that will be our focus. We’ve been so close the last couple of years – qualified strongly, led laps, but just little things you could never account for have kept us from that elusive podium, but I think with the roster of drivers we have this year … we might be able to change all that this year.”

In addition to the three Audi Sport Team Valvoline cars – all of which will be prepared bt the Melbourne Performance Centre – a further two local entries will compete in the Pro-Am class at this year’s Bathurst. Audi Sport’s long-standing customer team Hallmarc that scored podium finishes in its class in 2017 and 2019 will be back at The Mountain, while Tony Bates Racing will be competing there in the Silver Class with Audi for the first time. 

The 2020 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 hour will start with practice on Friday 31 January, with qualifying on Saturday 1 February and the race on Sunday 2 February.

Kelvin van der Linde returns to Australia looking for a maiden victory.
Markus Winkelhock looking to add a Bathurst title to his impressive career highlights.
Joining Audi Sport in 2020, 21-year-old Italian Mattia Drudi tackles Mount Panorama for the first time.