It’s quite chilly, the air is fresh and crisp and I’ve just walked through the main gates onto the Aussie Racing Icon – Mount Panorama. It’s one of those places, spoken about in legends that makes you feel pretty special from the very start.
One thing that certainly occurred to me was that it wasn’t as busy as I’d initially been expecting, but then again it takes a very enthusiastic spectator to make it to the track for a 6.15am Race start.
I’d been thrown right into the deep end with this, having never shot a race at Bathurst before. All I had to work with was potential angles after watching flying laps from the V8 Supercars on YouTube the night before. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a media pass for today’s race either; so I would be fighting for angles with other spectators looking for the perfect shot from behind the fence. It was going to be fun looking for the right spots!
With the early morning sun slowly rising from the East, Pit straight at Mount Panorama was eerily quiet and still. Moments later, this silence crescendoed into the sounds of race cars with 4 cylinders to 10 cylinders creating explosions; marking the start of the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hr. Standing upon the footbridge, I had a view that could only be explained in words as truly spectacular. Headlights from a cohort of 50 cars from 6 classes made their way over the small rise on the main straight into Hell Corner. Every inch of track was used for the entry into turn one with 3 rows of cars powering on up mountain straight.
The 2014 Bathurst 12Hr definitely opened my eyes to the excitement that is endurance racing. With multiple classes on the track at any given time, overtaking manoeuvres and side by side racing was a common occurrence.
As the day went by, the earlier chills of a crisp morning were replaced by a fierce heat that affected everyone at Bathurst. Not just the people, but the cars as well. Before the race had begun, the 12Hr has already claimed its first victims during the previous day’s practice and qualifying with multiple cars out of the race after collisions.
For a while now, I have been a believer that motorsport is slowly deteriorating over time. Especially as technology and engineering becomes more clinical and perfect, they take away from the spontaneous aspect of the sport. However, there is an element of unpredictability that exists in longer endurance races that makes my concerns redundant.
Race day was no different with the biggest incident involving the Nismo Factory team’s R35 GTR and Clearwater 458 GT3 colliding at the top of the mountain. The incident occurred when the 458 spun out from fluids on the track. The resulting dust cloud from other cars in the sand trap resulted in the GTR losing visibility.
The collision stunned everyone in the crowd who were all eager to witness the return of Godzilla to Bathurst. Most importantly though, all drivers were safe.
Pit workers watched the replay over and over as they came to terms with the end of their weekend.
The Nismo Factory team and Clearwater 458 begin pack up after a massive collision at the top of the mountain.
As the hours ticked by, the number of cars on the track began to decline as the heat took its toll on both engines and drivers. However, the close quarters racing continued.
Maranello Motorsport’s 458 GT3 crosses the line to claim top honours for the 2014 Liqui Moly Bathurst 12hr. An end to a truly fantastic Australian Race that is sure to grow from a primarily National event to something special on the international stage.
If you don’t like the V8s in October, I’ll say that you should consider a trip to Bathurst early in the year and witness the 12hr. Facilities and the quality of racing for spectators is great for the price of general admission of $35.
Whether it be getting up close and personal with teams in pit lane as they run around anxiously finding that missing part or being immersed on the top of the mountain by the sound of race cars or taking photos from great locations around the track behind fence – you won’t regret it.