EASTER WILL BE A FESTIVAL of noise and excitement in Bathurst this year following confirmation of the fields for the 2012 Bathurst Motor Festival.

More than 280 entries have been received by Event organisers across five racing and two regularity categories that will compete across the April 6-8 long weekend this year.

There will literally be something for everyone, with everything from HQ Holdens to Porsches, Formula 3 open-wheelers and Historic Touring Cars.

One of the most exciting spectacles could come from a mammoth 50-car entry in the FW1 Aussie Racing Car series, the pocket-rockets set to line up for the second round of their 2012 championship.

South Australian driver Adrian Cottrell dominated the opening round of the series in Adelaide, winning all four races at a canter however series regulars Kyle Clews, Peter Carr, Maurice Masini, Simon Smith and former Sports Sedan racer Trent Young all featured at the front of the field and are likely to continue their pace thanks to their respective Bathurst experience.

An 18-car grid is set to start in the return – for the first time in 30 years – of ‘wings and slicks’ open wheelers on Mount Panorama, round three of the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship to feature some of the best young drivers from around Australia tackling the 6.2km circuit in Australia’s fastest cars.

Speculation is running rampant as to the predicted lap times the 540kg, 220-horsepower carbon-fibre racers will achieve around the Bathurst circuit, though it’s expected to be even faster than the ‘unofficial’ lap record set by Allan Simonsen in a Ferrari GT car late last year (2m04.9s).

After round one, British driver James Winslow leads the championship with Sydneysider Mat Sofi and reigning champion Chris Gilmour in close company – the open wheelers set to contest another round in Tasmania prior to heading to Bathurst.

17 of the 55 HQ Holdens entered have elected to run two-driver combinations as Australia’s ‘traditional’ one-make racing category takes in a unique endurance format for the first time at the Bathurst Motor Festival.

The HQ’s will take part in two, one-hour races across the weekend with each car taking in a mandatory pit stop in each race to further spice up the action.

Also racing with an endurance format will be the Production Sports Cars, who return for the second consecutive year with a big field, filled with variety and some tasty exotic supercars.

Amongst the frontrunners, it is expected that 2011 pace-setter Jamie Augustine (Daytona Coupe) will continue to lead the pack, though the likes of Neale Muston (Porsche GT3 Cup Car), Brothers David and Tim Mackie (Lotus Elise HPEs)  and Iain Pretty’s Ford GT40 replica should also run near the front across the pair of two, one-hour races.

27 Group N Historic Touring Cars are entered, a diverse range of pre-1970s machinery nominated in a nod to Bathurst’s history.

Everything from Holden’s Torana XU-1, Mazda RX-2s, Ford Mustangs and Mini Coopers are on the diverse entry list that will serve as a blast from the past of Bathurst Easter’s long gone.

Two regulation categories will again take part in the Bathurst Motor Festival and both have received massive interest.

40 Porsches will race against the clock (and themselves) in the Porsche Club NSW regularity, the return of the category once again bringing a diverse array of 911’s, Boxters, Cayman’s and even classic Porsche Turbo’s.

Meanwhile, the New South Wales Road Racing Club regularity has drawn massive interest, 57 cars nominated to take part, up from 30 last year with perhaps the widest array of vehicles racing in any one field, anywhere in Australia.

The Bathurst Motor Festival will be held between April 6-8 at Mount Panorama, Bathurst, and will feature free entry – with a ‘bank note’ donation to charity for spectators.

Legacy is the official charity of the Bathurst Motor Festival for 2012.