Grove Racing has signed FIA WEC drivers Ben Barker and Alex Imperatori to race alongside Carerra Cup Challenge class winner Stephen Grove in the 2017 Bathurst 12 Hour. The team, which has won Class B twice, will field a new 991 Porsche GT3 Cup in the race, aiming for a third victory in the category.
“The first and most important thing is to finish the race. Our expectations are that we need to finish the race and if we do a good job we’ll be in a good position to be on the podium,” Grove explained.
“It’s a really good mix of drivers: we went for guys who had lots of experience in a Porsche. Ben and Alex are very experienced Porsche drivers overseas and it was important to get some guys with that experience.
“The Porsche is pretty unique to drive without any of the driving aids. I’ve raced with Ben in 2014 when we were successful in winning, and again in 2015 when we got onto the podium, so he was a natural guy to go and get. Alex will be quick up there and has good enduro experience.”
Grove admits that just finishing the race is the firs goal for the team, before it focuses on scoring another result.
“There’s always pressure when you go back after winning the year before, but if anything, the pressure is more internal. The pressure is making sure we finish the race and then if we can push for a podium above that it would be fantastic.”
Barker is no stranger to racing at Bathurst, with previous appearances in Porsche Carerra Cup Australia with the team on his CV.
“I can’t wait to be reunited with the mountain. Last time I was there was with Grove Racing and we almost had another win, so there is only one position in mind!” he said.
“Bathurst is one of the most unique tracks in the world, providing intense gradient and the need for no mistakes so when you complete a quick lap it is as satisfying as you can get.
“In previous years the 997 has loved this track with its nimbleness, now we have the 991 which is a little longer and requires a bit more patience which for Bathurst is not a bad thing at all, lap times are built on rhythm and this is for sure a rhythmic car! Let’s see what we can do.”
Imperatori meanwhile, who is making his Bathurst 12 Hour debut this year, admits that the race has been at the top of his bucket list.
“I am absolutely stoked going to Bathurst for the 12H race,” he said.
“It’s a race that has been on my list for a very long time and I can’t wait to get there. Even though I have done a fair bit of endurance racing, Bathurst is a monument of its own and I’m looking forward to the challenge of this amazing track and event.
“I first had the opportunity to meet Grove Racing last year during the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia visit to Australia and I could see first hand how professional the team is and that its operations matched its reputation. I also saw Stephen in action and was impressed with his performance in a 991 Cup car: I’m delighted to be able to share a car with him next month.”
The 2017 Bathurst 12 Hour event is set to run from the 3rd to the 5th of February, with the main race beginning in the morning darkness before running through the day.