First class racing across the board

IT WAS great to see such a huge crowd in Bathurst and at Mount Panorama over the four days of the 2012 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, and the racing was first class right across the board.

The writing was on the wall for a record crowd as early as Wednesday, with the very large numbers that lined the streets to watch the parade, which this year included the drivers for the first time in years.

The final hour of the Great Race was extremely exciting, with David Reynolds throwing everything at eventual winner Jamie Whincup, but he was never quite close enough to get past the #1 TeamVodafone Holden at overtaking positions.  

Most of this year’s support events were brilliant, with more green laps and less red-flagged races than in a long period of time and, as a result, the racing was great with several close finishes, the 1000 included.

It is a real shame the finish line at Mount Panorama is not located further up the straight. It is one of only a few worldwide that have the two lines separated.

The way it is means many an exciting race to the line does not happen.  

With the finish so close to Murrays Corner, it is close to impossible to get by the car ahead by the line because of its close proximity to the finish. There were several cars that were in a dice, and made a run through Murrays on the inside of their rival, but the finish was too soon.

Of course the Control Tower was also built right beside the line, but that has now gone, and Race Control is in the sky overlooking the start line.

The two lines were set apart in the early days so as to allow the lap scoring to be done efficiently. Today, with electronic aids, there would be no need to have them separated.

A big proportion of the crowd was in attendance because of the big promotion surrounding the 50th year of the Great Race at Bathurst and, while it was good, many were expecting a lot more.

The majority of the historic part of the meeting was centred on the ‘legends’.

Nothing wrong with the legends that were there, but there were a lot more that helped create the circuit’s legendary status, and it would have been nice to see them. Anyone who has attended the Muscle Car Masters at the Sydney Motorsport Park would agree the way they have drivers everywhere doing meet and greets is much better.

The other thing that was most annoying was the lack of acknowledgement paid to the local involvement in the race over the years, both to drivers and those on the administration side. The race would not have even been here only for several locals at the time.

Apart from all that, it was a great weekend, highlighted by the sensational race, the extremely good behaviour of the bulk of the record crowds, and how well the traffic plan is working.

A major highlight of the weekend was to watch the 353kw, V8-engined prototype Porsche RS Spyder in action around Mount Panorama, cutting laps as a prelude to Porsche’s return to sports car racing in 2014.

Bleekemolen drove the car in its two brief demonstration runs, which we hand timed at 2m.03 seconds, and he was as impressive as the car itself. Bleekemolen took a class victory four years ago at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, also aboard an RS Spyder.

The Dutch ace competed in this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour race behind the wheel of a Black Falcon Mercedes, and also at this meeting drove a wildcard entry in the Carrera Cup. In Sunday’s Race 3, he really turned it on, trading lap records with eventual round winner Craig Baird.

THREE drivers, Kerry Baily, Darren Hossack and Tony Ricciardello, will be battling for the 2012 Kerrick Sports Sedan series when the Shannons Nationals returns to Goulburn’s Wakefield Park Raceway this weekend.

Australia’s fastest tin-tops have produced a staggering season that will go into a title decider in the  fifth and final round of the series on the tight, tricky 2.2km circuit.  

The three drivers rate among the best in the 36-year history of Australian Sports Sedan Racing.

Of the three, five-time champion (1992, 93, 97, 2000 and 2003) Baily has had the most consistent year and, as such, leads the standings after winning both the opening two rounds.

Hossack – in his Chevrolet-powered Audi A4 – has won the title twice, in 2004 and 2008, and will drive the very fast Audi R4 in which he won his ’08 title.

Seven-time Sports Sedan champion Ricciardello is the most successful driver in Sports Sedan racing history driving what is arguably the series’ most successful car, an Alfa Romeo GTV that has seen the West Australian driver win in 1998-99, 2001-02, 05, 07 and 2011.

The title is poised to go down to the wire at Wakefield Park with the three stars split by just 46 points – with 135 up for grabs across the three races scheduled for Sunday.

Sunday’s racing will be broadcast live via the Shannons Nationals website

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