Monday, 10 October 2016

Bathurst 1000 2016

Iconic Mount Panorama sign
Even after watching the Bathurst 1000 on TV every year, for the past thirty years, nothing could prepare us for the magnitude of this event, in the flesh, in real life.  We had to pinch ourselves as we rode into the track, The Mount Panorama sign, high on the mountain,  gleaming in the early morning sun; here we were, fulfilling a lifelong dream.

Craig Lowndes pitstop
We made ourselves comfortable at corner one, Hells Corner, for the V8’s first practice session on Thursday, an awesome position to watch some hard braking and then see the cars disappear up mountain straight. We stayed a while, taking in the deep rumble of these magnificent V8 engines at one of the most awesome race tracks in the world. In the paddock we caught a glimpse of Craig  Lowndes as he tried to escape the pits for the comfort of his motor home.  Craig was true to his image, always smiling and signing autographs as he walked along.

Mountain camp site
For Friday’s session we caught the shuttle bus to the top of the mountain to see the action at Skyline, The Dipper and The Esses.  It’s difficult to comprehend the number of folks camping on the mountain, fires burning,  beer drinking and mostly having fun. Race day land rights were already staked out with painted lines and you wouldn’t want to argue. Fortunately there are no facilities at The Dipper so everyone gets a chance to stand on the fence line and see the action. There’s a strong police presence at the track, trying to strike a balance between the  Bathurst 1000 being a family event and folks having fun; they seemed to be doing a pretty good job too.

Even the police were having fun
On Saturday we continued to roam around the track on our general admission ticket and our $45 paddock pass. The elevated contours of the viewing areas made me wonder why anyone would buy a grand stand ticket; unless it’s raining.
Murrays Corner action

Early on race day we were in the paddock enjoying a cup of coffee and I was very impressed to find colourful flyers, produced and printed overnight, detailing the starting grid for the race.    For the pre-start circus we made ourselves comfortable on the fence line, directly opposite grid position ten with Frosty’s Bottle-O V8 parked right in front of us. They keep the race format interesting with seven compulsory pit stops, even so, with two thirds of the race done, Whincup looked like he was running away with it.  Then the first safety car appeared and the carnage began.  With the deployment of each safety car the odds on who might take the chequered prize changed too. For a moment we thought our home town boy, West Aussie Garth Tander, was in with a chance, then Whincup got desperate and wiped McLaughlin and Tander out of the race.

It was an exciting finish to an awesome weekend of motorsport. Whincup took the chequered flag but with a fifteen second time penalty was demoted to 11th place.
1st place – Will Davison/Jonathon Webb
2nd place – Shane Van Gisbergen/Alexandre Premat
3rd place – Nick Percat/ Cameron McConville
(subject to a protest from Whincup’s Red Bull team).

Winners are grinners
If you love motorsport, stick the Bathurst 1000 on your bucket list because this truly is a peoples event and is well deserving of its tag as Australia’s biggest motor racing event of the year.

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