After an Am-Cup podium in 2017 and two outright top ten finishes at the Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in three years, Trofeo Motorsport returns to the mountain this year with a new-look team to challenge for their maiden assault on the Silver category in the stunning #29 Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
The Trofeo Motorsport/Haemokinesis entry will again be led by former Supercars regular Dean Canto, although he will be the only regular member of the team that took on the mountain across the last three years, with team-boss Jim Manolios a late withdrawal for the first time since 2016, whilst Trofeo regular – former F1 driver – Ivan Capelli, has commitments at home in Italy.
For 2020 Canto will be joined by three new team-mates, all of whom have their own experiences to draw at from Mount Panorama.
Former Supercars ‘Development Series’ driver Grant Denyer will make his GT3 return at Bathurst alongside former Dick Johnson Racing team-mate Canto, the pair looking to reignite the success that gave Canto the 2005 championship and Denyer the ‘rookie-of-the-year’ title in their BA Falcon Supercars.
Very much a part-timer these days as he pursues his various television gigs, Denyer has shown impressive pace on the mountain in the past and includes a class win in a MARC Focus GTC in 2014 (and second in Class I in 2018) amongst his eight Bathurst 12 Hour starts, three of which came in GT3 cars – his three Bathurst 1000 starts will also put him in good stead.
Liam Talbot enjoyed significant miles behind the wheel with the Trofeo team in 2019 including some solid laps at Challenge Bathurst in late November, the experienced GT campaigner also tasting victory in the Huracan at The Bend Motorsport Park alongside Shane van Gisbergen mid-year. His experience with the car and the Trofeo crew will see the team start the event with some valuable additional data.
Joining the trio will be 12 Hour rookie Marcel Zalloua who despite his status, is an accomplished State Series regular in his Production Sports Porsche GT3 Cup Car, the New South Welshman having been a regular on the circuits of his home state since 2013 – he was also one of the leading Pro-Am competitors in GT3 Cup Challenge across the 2018 season, a year in which he also contested Challenge Bathurst, but like Denyer, he will be a rookie in the Lamborghini.
Commitments in Italy have ended Ivan Capelli’s long run with the Melbourne-based team, whilst his 2017 podium finishing team-mate Ryan Millier will again step outside the driver’s seat – despite taking the car to the round win on the Gold Coast late last year – to focus on managing the team alongside the experienced Trent Levi.
A passionate competitor when it comes to Bathurst, team-boss Jim Manolios also elected to sit out the event due to business commitments, although he is expected to attend the event to support the team and the many drivers using the event as the opening round of the Australian GT Endurance season.
With such a strong Silver classified team for this year’s event, Manolios is confident they can use their three past seasons with the Lamborghini Squadra Corse built machine to keep their rivals on their toes as they go after a podium return.
“We were unlucky last year to miss a podium after mid-race contact at Murrays Corner saw us with radiator damage which ultimately sidelined us on Sunday afternoon,” Manolios reflected.
“The car to that point had been flawless, and short of minor little scuffles since we debuted it with success in 2017, it has proven bullet-proof, and that’s a factor we elected to adopt when faced with a potential upgrade to the car – this is a known package that has served us well – 2:04 laps by Dean Canto at Challenge Bathurst in 2018, and then again just a few weeks back by Liam Talbot proved just how competitive we can be.”
Ahead of the Bathurst event, Grant Denyer and Marcel Zalloua had a chance to turn laps at Phillip Island to acclimatise themselves with the stunning 5.2-litre, naturally-aspirated V10 before the experienced Trofeo team committed a full refresh ahead of the opening practice session on ‘The Mountain’ at 8:40am on Friday, January 31.
2020 Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour
Mount Panorama, Bathurst, New South Wales
31 January – 2 February, 2020
Schedule: (time – AEDST, GMT+11)
Friday, 31 January
08:40am – Practice#1 (30-minutes)
09:15am – Practice#2 (60-minutes)
12:20pm – Practice#3 (60-minutes)
03:05pm – Practice#4 (60-minutes)
Saturday, 1 February
08:45am – Practice#5 (60-minutes)
12:40pm – Qualifying#1 (45-minutes)
01:35pm – Qualifying#2 (30-minutes) – Class A only
05:05pm – Top 10 Shootout (45-minutes)
Sunday, 2 February
5:45am – RACE (12-hours)
Source. 321 Ignition Media