AUSTRALIA’S TOP Production Car enduro was held on the weekend and while we were going to subject it to the full Hot or Not Power Rankings treatement, so much did we love the vibe of the weekend that we ultimately couldn’t come up with enough ‘not’. So, here’s what we loved about the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour.
WORDS: TheRaceTorque.com Team IMAGES: Nathan Wong / B6HR
QUEENSLANDER Beric Lynton has thrown his heart, soul and we imagine a decent chunk of his wallet into Production Car racing in the last 20 years and while it has delivered plenty of success – two Production Car titles, for starters – a Bathurst win has always gone begging.
But this year Lynton and his experienced, smart team presented a reliable car that redeemed their near-miss in the 2018 race and delivered the most dominant Bathurst victory in years. Just as important, Lynton all but matched his teammate for pace throughout, too. A hugely deserved victory for a complete team performance and a bloke who earned it the hard way.
Orange’s Tim Leahey (Is he the town’s best export?) proved again why he remains one of the most underrated drivers in the sport. Made all the usual jokes about being too old and on the way out, but for the last two years he has easily been the fastest driver in the event by a margin. His relentless pace and consistency throughout the race ensured the team could capitalise on their position and bury the Sherrin car a lap behind, where they would remain.
Teams preparing for the Bathurst 12 Hour next year – especially those looking for a properly good ‘Am’ driver, could do much, much worse than signing Tim Leahey.
COULDN’T back up their 2018 success but the Brothers Sherrin remain the benchmark in production car racing. They’ve now finished first or second in three of the four Bathurst 6 Hour events, and (before their disqualification on Saturday) have qualified first, second, third and fourth as well. Strategic miscues cost them on Sunday but this pair and their family team remain hugely capable and, probably, underrated.
Quality versus quality
THE Bathurst 6 Hour has been popular between purists for bringing back huge fields of multi-class racing to Bathurst, but the downside has been lots of Safety Car in the first three editions.
This year’s 44-strong field was a nearly perfect balance between enough competition in each class, but not so many cars that traffic became nightmarish.
Record-setting Bathurst enduro streak
THE RESULT of the quality-v-quantity thing was that we had the third-straight Bathurst endurance race that set either a time or distance record.
After last year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 was the fastest ever (at a touch over 6 hours, 1 minute), the 2019 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour destroyed the existing lap and distance records comfortably this February.
The 131 laps completed by the winners (a notch over 505 miles, by the way) on Easter Sunday was six-laps to the better over the old record for the Bathurst 6 Hour.
While it may not produce the balls-to-the-wall finishes we’ve seen so often at Bathurst (the 12hr may be an exception), the recent return to ‘pure’ long distance racing at the holy grail of endurance racing in Australia is a welcome thing indeed.
THE INDIAN company will be feeling pretty pleased with how the Bathurst 6 Hour played out.
After copping a barrage of negative social media commentary on the news that they would become the official tyre supplier of the six-hour and Australian Production Car racing, the brand produced a faultless performance on Sunday.
The tyre provided was so durable that, some teams said, they could have done the entire race on a single set. Sherrin Racing used just nine tyres for the full duration – putting four new tyres on 1hr 9 minutes into the race and then an additional right front with less than half an hour to go, when the result was assured anyway.
While teams took some time to adapt their cars to the dramatically different behavior of the new rubber, at worst people were merely blase’ about it. At best they raved about the durability over the distance.
It should hopefully silence the uninformed online community who spent months bagging the product with predictions of doom before it had even turned a lap.
MRF are the world’s 11th largest tyre company and are investing heavily in Australian motor sport. 25 of the crew that developed the B6HR tyre were watching the race from their Chennai base, as were much of the senior management.
The company has substantial plans for their local motorsport involvement so hopefully their successful Bathurst debut will spur that investment – a good thing, remember – further.
THE SIX-HOUR is a race where the proper, old-school privateer can have a go and that was the case on the weekend. The endless comments throughout the paddock of those ‘living the dream’ or ‘can’t believe we’re here’ was one of the most appealing things at Mount Panorama across Easter. The spirit in the B6HR paddock is perhaps the best of any event at the circuit and that is a substantial part of the charm of the event.
There were two, take it away from the track and fix-it rebuilds, across the weekend – one that included an 800km round-trip to Newcastle to find a new engine.
Then during the race, two teams changed engines mid-race to ensure they could make the finish. Some of the efforts were bloody near heroic.
If that isn’t old-school Bathurst greatness, we don’t know what is.
HSV on the Podium
UNHERALDED by most, the performance of the Chris Lillis / Nathan Callaghan / Matt Holt Commodore GTS throughout the race was basically, perfect.
It also created some history: it was the first time a V8 Holden (or Ford, for that matter) had stood on the Bathurst 6 Hour podium: and just the third time in the history of Production Car racing (think Bathurst 12 Hour and 6 Hour) on the Mountain.
The others? The popular HSV R8 Tourer inherited third in the 2010 12-hour after the Mitsubishi that had finished there was excluded, while way back in 1991 Wayne Cullen, Glenn Cullen and Gary Cooke powered a VN SS Commodore to third behind the winning Supra and seond-placed Laser TX3
Relaxed, accessible, enjoyable and fun: the B6HR has it’s own unique Bathurst vibe which stands it apart from all the others, yet when the cars on track it reverts to being an intense, challenging enduro that means the world to those involved. As every true Bathurst enduro should.
An action-packed support race program and non-stop on track action make for lots of decent racing to watch.
Run our stickers and win!
IT was a good weekend for those lucky enough (or those whom we conned into making it happen) running theracetorque.com stickers.
Long-time TRT Team of Champions member Asher Johnston dominated the Excel Cup racing on the weekend, grabbing pole by a second and winning all three races to take the weekend overall.
Then in the big race, the Garage 1 BMW M3 of Anthony Gilbertson and Andrew Mill not only survived being stranded on the formation lap but also two laps stuck in the sand at turn one to finish second in Class A2.
Well done to both squads for their excellent weekends!