Mount Panorama ready for new Bathurst 6 Hour era to begin
More than 275 competitors have descended on the spiritual home of Australian Motorsport as the 2021 Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 hour bursts into life on Mount Panorama in Bathurst this weekend.
Continuing the long tradition of racing in Bathurst on the Easter long weekend – the first major event at the iconic circuit was held on Easter in 1938 – the 2021 event represents the start of a new era for the event.
As well as a 60-plus strong field contesting the annual ‘Showroom Showdown’ for Production Cars on Easter Sunday, the weekend will mark the first time that the turbocharged Touring Cars from the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia series will have tackled the Mountain.
The Bathurst 6 Hour field includes representation from 15 different brands and more than 30 different models of cars.
High profile drivers like Shane van Gisbergen, Tim Slade and Paul Morris will join a broad group of competitors from all walks of life in a bid to chase Bathurst success.
Defending champions Beric Lynton and Tim Leahey return to defend their crown against five of the brand-new Ford Mustang GTs, which make their highly anticipated Production Car debut this weekend.
The TCR field will see the likes of Lee Holdsworth, Tony D’Alberto and returnee Garth Tander chasing title leader Chaz Mostert in the Bathurst debut of the category, which doubles as the third round of the 2021 championship battle.
The second round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge powered by AWS returns top-flight GT racing to the Mountain for the first time since early 2020, with the field including 2020 Bathurst 1000 winners Garth Tander and Shane van Gisbergen going head-to-head in opposing cars.
After racing within other categories in previous years, the National Trans Am series cars will race on their own in Bathurst for the first time this year, a big field of 25 Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge muscle cars ready to do battle over three races.
The Radical Australia Cup, MRF Excel Challenge and NSW Historic Touring Cars complete a bumper program that will see more than 275 cars and their associated teams and supporters descend on Mount Panorama.
While adhering to all current New South Wales COVID-19 guidelines, the event looks set to welcome a strong crowd with pre-event ticket and campground sales significantly improved on previous years.
With no cap on the number of patrons attending, fans attending the event get great access to Mount Panorama with all areas – the paddock, pit roof and at the top and the bottom of the Mountain – open to all ticketholders.
The weekend will be broadcast live and free on the Seven Network around Australia with more than 17 hours of coverage being produced across Saturday and Sunday, split between 7mate and 7plus.
The Bathurst region and New South Wales will also gain international exposure thanks to coverage aired on Sky Sports New Zealand, and international streaming via motorsport.tv.
The packed program includes 30 hours of on-track action across the three days at Mount Panorama.
CR BOBBY BOURKE – MAYOR, BATHURST REGIONAL COUNCIL
“It’s going to be a great weekend and what more could you ask for, all of the restrictions are nearly off, you’ve got a full grid of cars, the sun is shining, no rain coming over this weekend — you couldn’t ask for better racing,” Cr. Bourke said.
“Fans can be anywhere on the Mountain; camping is allowed again and you’ve got that local content too. That will bring the crowds out, they want to see people that they do know locally around here. The international or other drivers that come here, they will have a great time and blend in with the whole lot.
“This race is very important to Bathurst, it’s the second event we’re having this year and we’ve all been through COVID-19, we need a boost. I tell you what this race this weekend will boost not just the Bathurst economy but racing right across Australia.
MATT BRAID – AUSTRALIAN RACING GROUP CEO
“It’s great to be back here at Bathurst after a year’s gap and it’s ARG’s first chance to run the Bathurst 6 Hour event under our ownership and control. The field behind me is fantastic: we’ve got almost a record production car field, and over 275 cars across all the categories for the weekend so it’s going to be a huge event,” said Braid.
“We’re back from COVID, we’re living with it, we’re racing and everyone’s just really looking forward to getting back on track for the 6 Hour this weekend.
“We’re pleased to say that this year’s 6 Hour — post last year’s cancelation —we actually have some camping here in-field and there’s largely no restrictions on the crowds, as long as everyone is behaving under social distancing regulations and guidelines, everyone is welcome to come.
“This weekend marks the debut of TCR Australia’s entrée to the Mountain, so to speak; it’s the first time they’ve actually run. It’s going to be a very important round for the series and I know all the drivers are looking forward to seeing how they go and how the cars go at the Mountain for the very first time.
“The 6 Hour production race is held in Australia but it’s going to be seen worldwide, as is TCR — TCR has a huge following globally, it’s going to be streamed internationally from this event.
“Likewise Trans Am and also other categories as well showcasing the event and the categories we have. It’s going to be great to tease the appetites of any international driver who wants to come and potentially race in any of the categories we have at the Bathurst International in November.”
TIM LEAHEY – DEFENDING BATHURST 6 HOUR RACE WINNER
“I’m excited about getting back in the car again, it’s great to be back at Bathurst; just got to get the cob-webs out in practice and see how we go,” said Leahey.
“The 6 Hour has grown and it’s really good; Australia has always been about Production Car racing and it’s great at a weekend like this that you get so many different categories.
“It’s good to be diverse with motorsport in Australia days — I love motorsport, always have and this weekend is a great mix. This production car category with multiple classes; it’s great to get mum and dad teams up. It’s competitive, it’s fun, lots of people get a trophy in their own class so there’s lots of competitions going on within the competition.
“Production cars are so unpredictable because modern production cars have got so much more technology in them and so many more things can play up through the day, particularly when you’re flogging them around a race track for six hours. It’s anyone’s deal; we’ve been here for every 6 Hour and we’ve won one, so hopefully, we can win another one.
“I’ve been coming here since I was two or three years of age watching car racing. Everyone loves coming to Bathurst, whether you’re 20mins down the road at Orange or from Perth, it’s just a great race track and a special place.”
LEE HOLDSWORTH – SUPERCHEAP AUTO TCR AUSTRALIA DRIVER
“This is the first time that TCR Australia are here at the Mountain; the greatest race track in the world arguably, so it’s going to be an unreal spectacle,” said Holdsworth.
“It always is around here in any race car and in these little beasts, I would imagine it’s going be pack racing because of the tow you’ll get up Mountain Straight and down Conrod. No one is going to be able to get too far away but you always hang these things off the wall, every time you get around this track you’re pushing to the limit and I’m just looking forward to taking the little Alfa around and getting 100% out of it.
“I don’t remember the last time I did a sprint race around Mount Panorama; actually I don’t know if I’ve ever done a sprint race around here. It’s going to be completely different. Obviously, the aggression side will be up because every corner counts in the first couple of laps whereas in an endurance you take your time with that sort of stuff.
“The aim here is to qualifying well, that will be the ticket to getting good results over the weekend. We’ll focus on one lap pace and just doing as good of a job as we possibly can so we can claw back some points on that Mozzie bloke.
“It’s just awesome, everyone wants to come race here, all around the world and to have five events and building on it per year is just awesome for NSW, Bathurst, fans and obviously great for the race drivers.”