Myles Stedman previews the Jaguares and the Sunwolves ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby season.

A star-studded driver line-up and some of the world's leading supercar manufacturers will race exclusively on Pirelli tyres at the prestigious Bathurst 12 Hours in Australia this weekend.

This year's race marks the first in a three-year agreement for Pirelli to supply all competitors, after winning the 2016 race with McLaren in open tyre competition, as well as claiming the top four places on the grid and recording a new GT3 lap record.

The Bathurst 12 Hours is contested on the challenging Mount Panorama circuit, famed for its sweeping high-speed mountain section that is hugely popular with fans and drivers alike. The inconsistency of the asphalt forms another major challenge for the teams and the tyres in particular, as they balance performance with durability.

The race has rapidly grown in international significance over recent years, attracting the involvement of premium and prestige manufacturers, many of which use Pirelli as original equipment. Factory drivers from around the world join some of the biggest names in Australian racing, for whom Bathurst marks a highlight of the season. In particular, McLaren returns with the same car-tyre package that it used to win last year, as well as some new stars in the driving seat. There are also factory drivers from Audi, Bentley, BMW, Nissan and Porsche among others.

Pirelli will supply the GT3 teams with its medium compound P Zero DMC tyre that is proven in racing around the world and particularly suitable for Bathurst. With long straights and a mix of fast and slow corners, Bathurst provides an all-round challenge for tyres, but the DMC coped well with these tests to take victory last year. The DMC is a medium compound; focussed on performance, while the DHC hard compound will be available as well for longer runs.

“Bathurst marks the beginning of our international endurance racing season, and the Mount Panorama circuit is a fantastic place to start, with the massive challenges it provides for drivers and tyres,” said Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery. “After our win last year, we are delighted to become the sole supplier of the race, which is supported by some of the world's top supercar manufacturers, with the majority using Pirelli as original equipment on their road cars. Thanks to an all-star cast of drivers from Australia and the rest of the world forming one of the strongest entries in years, we're in for a great weekend.”

Chaz Mostert was the quickest Supercar driver on the opening day of practice on Friday and is being hailed as favourite to take pole in today's top ten shootout.