After two seasons of global communication between four-time Australian production car champions Pedders Racing and dual Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) champion Michele Abbate, the 2017 Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour will play host to a promising combination as the fellow Toyota 86 racers join talents to take on the mountain challenge.
With three attempts on the Mount Panorama Circuit completed, Pedders Racing were keen to make an impact as the Bathurst 6 Hour event enters a time of significant growth where the 72 place grid is on the verge of being full for the first time at the iconic circuit, vehicles and racers are returning, and sponsors, media and supporters are coming on board as the race brings the true roots of Australian motor sport, production racing, back to the fore.
For Abbate, it’s a dream come true to have the opportunity to race at one of the world’s greatest circuits. A dream that was big enough to cancel a honeymoon and make the journey to Australia to go racing.
Beginning in go-karts and autocross, Abbate made her racing debut with the Sports Car Club of America at the age of sixteen, notably achieving a podium finish behind two national champions in her debut outing. Expanding into road course racing and time attack, Abbate’s impressive performances and university education sealed the deal to become a factory driver for Scion Racing.
In her rookie year, Abbate became class Champion of the MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championships in the National Auto Sport Association’s Southern California region, backing it up with a top four place in the overall standings in just her second season of the series.
Realising opportunity as the renowned Toyota 86 (also released internationally as the Toyota FT-86, Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S) hit the highs across the global automotive market, Abbate took the reins of team ownership with the new chassis and support from Scion Racing. Making a debut at the world famous Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in her first professional race with the United States Touring Car Championship series, Abbate took out another Rookie of the Year honour, while earning Scion its first manufacturer points in the history of the series.
Following two wins, ten podiums and a fourth of July 2015 championship victory in the SCCA USA Majors Tour Western Conference, Abbate of GRR Racing, went on to earn the Lindley Bothwell Driver of the Year Award, becoming the first female to take the honour in its 66 years. Abbate has since driven in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, as well as introduced a new Chevrolet SS 363 V8 GT-1 to the SCCA Majors Tour, while adding drift and motorcycles to her racing repertoire, and will now make her international debut at none other than Mount Panorama, Bathurst. Having gained sponsorship commitment, qualifying for the USA SCCA National Run-Offs led to a growing passion to take motor sport to the next level, so when the door was opened for a Bathurst co-drive with Pedders Racing in an 86 chassis known to the Las Vegas native, it was a match made in motor sport heaven, and the American racer can’t wait to land down under, saying,“I couldn’t be more excited and thankful to take advantage of this amazing opportunity.
“It has always been my dream to visit Australia and watch some of the best racing in the world, and, thanks to seasons of sharing information, a mutual commitment to the FRS (Toyota 86) chassis, and now with this open door from Pedders Racing, I don’t have to watch, I can actually get out there and race Bathurst!
“We’ve been toying with the idea of joining forces for a while now, but our racing seasons and business commitments hadn’t fallen in line, so when the date was mentioned, my Crew Chief (fiancé) and I changed our plans because, let’s be honest, is there any where or any way better to do a honeymoon?!”
In a unique education-first partnership, and with Australia’s most promising motor sport professionals, the students of Motorsports Training Australia, at the helm of preparations, strategy and crew operation, Abbate’s signing to the seasoned production racing outfit could just prove to be their ticket to tame the mountain.
With high hopes shared across the Pacific, the #86 champion Toyota has undergone a complete mechanical and electrical review during the Australian Production Cars Series off season to give the greatest of opportunities when Easter rolls around.
Pedders Racing driver and Team Principal, Grant Phillips, echoed the excitement of his latest star co-driver, saying,
“We’ve had lots of exciting things happen to the team since we joined the national scene seven years ago, but to be able to secure the opportunity for an international driver to be with us at Bathurst is pretty up there.
“Michele (Abbate) has developed a strong pedigree of racing across every opportunity that she creates, and we’re very keen to get her to Australia and get her settled into the seat of our 86.
“There’s no doubt that Michele’s knowledge of track racing, her understanding of the 86 chassis, and her entertaining approach will gel really well with our team, and it won’t just be a ‘bucket list’ experience for her as a driver, but also an outstanding experience for our MTA (Motorsports Training Australia) crew who take every moment as a unique opportunity to learn.”
The Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour will venture to the famed tarmac of Mount Panorama 14 - 16 April, with free live coverage of the endurance race feature to be available online to a global audience.
Pedders Racing is proudly supported by Pedders Suspension, Motorsports Training Australia, Borneo Bears Australian Rules Football Club, Pitman Trucks, Evans Waterless Coolant, MSC Signs, Bears AFL AusKick, Sportsnet, Euro Truck Spares, Reliable Rack & Pinion, AMG Australia, DBA (Disc Brakes Australia), Nameless Performance, Exedy, Heidi Yi, Harrop Engineering, Moro & Dooly Accident Repair Centre, Valvoline, Total Tools Dandenong, ssMEDIA, Motor GuardianCam, OZ Racing, CC-MW, Ozygen Chemicals, Cosmic Performance, Bendigo Diesel Injectors, J&A Logistics, Driveway Labs, CIMA Media, and our fans!
Michele Abbate and GRR Racing are proudly supported by Edelbrock Performance, Reklaw Design, Scosche, WedsSport Wheels, Fuel Safe Racing Cells, Auto Meter Competition Instruments, Delicious Tuning, King Engine Bearing Specialists, SEIBON Carbon, Mishimoto, ACE Headers, Advanced Clutch Technology, Scrubblade, AST Suspension USA, Whiteline, APR Performance, Ignite Fuel, Molecule Motorsports, MCC Motorsports, Cusco, KE Arms, Factory Canopies, AMSOIL, Driven Race Group, Mothers Polish, DBA (Disc Brakes Australia) USA, UltraChiller, Heat Wave Visual, ADIDAS, Deatschwerk, Aggressive Marketing, ZitoVault, and Real Water.