Maranello Motorsport has confirmed it will field a Ferrari 488 GT3 for factory driver Toni Vilander at next year’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
The Melbourne squad is the first to submit an entry for the February 3-5 Mount Panorama classic which will be led by FIA World Endurance Championship star Vilander.
Vilander is one of Ferrari’s most successful GT pilots having won the Le Mans 24 Hours GTE division in 2012 and 2014, and the 2014 FIA WEC GT title.
The 35-year-old has experience of Mount Panorama having contested the 2015 and 2016 events.
Vilander joined Mika Salo, Tony D’Alberto and Grant Denyer in the Maranello Ferrari 458 GT3 for this year’s race.
The team is yet to confirm who will share the entry alongside Vilander, but the outfit will once again receive backing from fast food giant McDonald’s.
Next year’s race will welcome the new Ferrari 488 GT3 for the first time after making its competitive Australian debut at Albert Park in March.
The replacement for the ageing 458 GT3 has already delivered a stark performance improvement compared to its predecessor, which has left Maranello Motorsport confident ahead of its Bathurst 12 Hour debut.
The 2014 race winners suffered an early retirement in this year’s endurance encounter.
“We think the 488 will be a beast on the Mountain and we can’t wait to come back and challenge for another win,” said team owner Mark Coffey.
“The car has proven already to be extremely fast and by the time we get to Bathurst next February we’re confident it will be a contender.
“We’re pleased to welcome McDonald’s back and also confirm Toni will be back to form part of our driving squad.
“He is an incredible talent and comes with the support of the factory in Italy so he is a valuable addition to our team.
“We have been proud to be part of the growth of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour and it’s great to be the first to put our entry form in and commit our first car to the 2017 race.”
Maranello Motorsport has also hinted that it will field entries in the new professional category and the Pro/Am class.