Melbourne Performance Centre announces Bathurst squad
MPC to enter three Audis in Repco Bathurst 12 Hour
Kelvin van der Linde, Lee Holdsworth headline three-car line-up
Melbourne Performance Centre has announced a three-car Repco Bathurst 12 Hour campaign that gives the Audi team a shot at victory in both the outright and Pro-Am classes in the February 16-18 event.
The team has confirmed they will enter two of their Audi R8 LMSs in the Pro class, drawing on the hugely experienced ranks of professional drivers that have history with the team to build out both entries.
The KFC / Jamec Racing entry will be steered by Bathurst local Brad Schumacher, Markus Winkelhock and Ricardo Feller.
The sister Wash It/Jamec Racing entry will see Liam Talbot joined by Kelvin van der Linde and Christopher Haase.
While both cars technically feature ‘Pro-Am’ driving line-ups, they will enter the outright class which removes the minimum driver time requirement for bronze-ranked drivers – the same rule used by the SunEnergy1 team to win the race in 2023.
Meanwhile, Marc Cini will be joined by Bathurst winner Lee Holdsworth and Dean Fiore aboard his Hallmarc Team MPC Audi R8 LMS entry entered in the Bausele Pro-Am class.
In Schumacher and Talbot the team has two of the most experienced and successful Audi drivers in the country.
Talbot claimed six race wins en-route to the Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia powered by AWS title last year, driving an MPC-run Audi R8.
Schumacher, meanwhile, won seven times on his way to claiming the GT-Am title last year.
The experienced internationals alongside them bring an enormous amount of Bathurst experience and success to the team.
Winkelhock will make his ninth Bathurst start this year and was a runner-up in the 2015 race with Audi.
The ex-Formula 1 pilot is a former Intercontinental GT Challenge champion, a three-time winner of the Nürburgring 24 Hours and a GT1 World Champion.
South African van der Linde has four starts on the Mountain and has twice qualified second – including on his most recent visit in 2022. He has also set the fastest lap of the race on two occasions.
Feller, from Switzerland, made his Bathurst debut in 2022 for Team MPC, while Christopher Haase has become one of Audi’s go-to experts when it comes to Bathurst.
The German, a former Nürburgring 24 Hour winner, will start his eighth Bathurst enduro this year, all with Audi.
Hallmarc Team MPC driver Marc Cini will start his 12th 12 Hour this year, a record for anyone in the race’s GT3 era.
He, Bathurst 1000 winner Holdsworth and West Aussie expert Dean Fiore are one of the longest-term driving combinations in the race and finished 7th outright in the 2022 race driving together.
The Repco Bathurst 12 Hour will be held on the February 16-18 weekend and will kick off the Bathurst SuperFest this year.
The race will be broadcast live on the screens of Seven, Fox Sports and Kayo.
“After a few years of challenges and bad luck, we’ve taken a different approach this year but it’s one we think that can pay off,” Team MPC’s Troy Russell said.
“Pairing extremely experienced drivers like Brad and Liam with the Pros we have access to, all who have been here before and all who are extremely quick at Mount Panorama, we think is the way to go.
“The regulations allow those combinations to be competitive which gives guys like Liam and Brad a chance at winning Bathurst outright. We’re thrilled with those combinations in the pair of Jamec Racing entries, with KFC and Wash It on board as major partners.
“The Hallmarc car, with Marc, Lee and Dean, is such a solid combination. The Pro-Am competition is as tough as ever this year but at the same time we think they’re a good shot at challenging there.
“The Audi R8’s still have plenty to give and we showed that by winning the GT World Challenge Australia Championship last year.”
Schumacher added: “It’s an honour to drive again with the Audi Team at this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour as a Pro-Entry, and a privilege to be teaming up with Ricardo and Markus, both having experience at the mountain which is very important.
“Personally, off the back of wining the Am-GT World Challenge Australia championship last year, and combined with my in-depth experience at Bathurst, I’m in a really good physical and mental space to perform well for the team.
“After coming so close to a good result with Audi in 2022, I feel there is unfinished business with us at the Mountain for sure, so the goal is of-course to aim for outright victory at this year’s event.
"The Audi R8 has great potential, and the team is stacked with experience, so let’s hope the Mountain Gods are kind."
Talbot said: “Momentum is everything in Motorsport and after coming off potentially my best year of racing, I’m ready for the huge challenge of attempting the 12 Hour and going for an outright win.
“It’s an amazing line up of co-drivers and of course an absolutely stellar team as well.
“I’m super excited to race the Wash It / Jamec Racing Audi with Chris Haase and Kelvin van der Linde along with the incredible support of MPC.
“I’ve had a great time at Bathurst recently in GT World Challenge and Carrera Cup so I can’t wait to go back.”