Mar 15, 2017
Walleeee’s Bathurst 12 Hour review
Wow what a race! It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I go it never stops being such a special place!
First up, I really want to pay credit to the whole Wall Racing team. They put in an unbelievable amount of hard work so we could get the new Nissans prepped and on the track at Bathurst. From the moment we bought them in America, we were on a very tight time frame. Without my teams dedication there is no way we would have made it!
Looking back at the weekend as a whole, I am really proud that we were able to prepare three cars that were not only fast, but also reliable. This a result of the long hours the guys put in before the race. They poured their heart and soul into delivering the cars in such a perfect condition and I am very proud of what they achieved.
The race weekend itself was one the biggest efforts Wall Racing has undertaken. With three cars under our control, we had a team of 42 (including drivers) at the track, so the logistics as you can imagine were far from simple!
Standing at the back of our garage looking in and seeing all the hard work come to fruition was a proud moment.
So onto Bathurst!
The shake-down at Sydney Motorsport Park the week before the race went as well as we had hopped. Each of the drivers got a chance to drive the new cars, and for the team it was a very brief introduction to the Nissans before we made the trip to Bathurst.
Day 1 – Practice
All the drivers in car 38 had been to Bathurst before – although not in a Nissan. So for them it was about tuning the car, these details were then shared with the sister car 66 where two of the drivers had not raced at Bathurst before. This meant they were rightly able to focus more on learning the track.
For our Safe-T-Stop Porsche – Well, it ran faultlessly as always!
So by the time Friday night came we had three straight cars and plenty of new data to process!
Overall we were very happy with our first day at the mountain.
Day 2 – Qualifying:
There was one more practice session first up, then we sent our fastest guys out in the Nissans for qualifying. This was Chris Pither and owner Brett Hobson.
Even during qualifying we were continually chasing the final few tenths out of the cars set up. Unfortunately we saw some high temperatures in the middle of the day, right when qualifying was held, which for a turbo car is your worst enemy.
But overall the boys put in a solid performance. Brett did a low 2:06 which considering he had only done ten laps prior to qualifying was a very good effort. Chris did a high 2:04 with some time left in himself, but still a good result and plenty of promise for the race.
Saturday was a late one for the boys prepping the cars for the race the next morning, getting to bed at about midnight, just 3 hours before the alarm went off!
Day 3 – Race day:
Starting an endurance race in the dark is unbelievably special. It is something only a few people ever get to experience, and to do it the Mountain is even more incredible.
It is always a frantic start but all of our guys were able to make strong starts. It all came undone for Chris very early on though when a car spun in front of him, leaving him nowhere to go in the dipper.
Unfortunately the result was damage to both the left and right sides of the #38 Nissan which effectively put them out of the race. The decision was made to do everything we could to get back out on track, and even though this meant we spent the rest of the race fixing problems caused by the accident, the team didn’t give up.
Chris was still able to set a lap time of 2:06, even with the battle wounds, which was very impressive even if it did leave us wondering “what if”. Both Daniel Bilski and Adrian Flack did a great job, along with Chris to keep fighting throughout the race. Both were able to go faster in the race than they had done the rest of the weekend as they got increasingly comfortable in the car.
For the #66 Nissan, the race got off to a very impressive start. With Brett Hobson behind the wheel putting in one of his best drives, he passed many cars in his first stint, going much quicker than he had done all weekend. This exceptional drive saw Brett bring the Nissan into the pits in 8th outright, and leading their class – a mega effort! As the day went on both of the American drivers drove well in their first visit to Bathurst, getting better as they did more and more laps.
Unfortunately Fred Poordad made a small mistake going into Skyline in the 8th hour and he ended up running slightly wide. Unfortunately, given the late stage in the race, the track was very dirty off line, and it was enough to result in a very nasty accident for him – hitting the wall hard. The hit was serious enough to leave him very battered and bruised, and with a short stay in hospital. We hope he is on the mend and wish him all the best with his recovery.
With the size of the accident and the serious amount of damage done to the car they were out of the race immediately. It is really disappointing for the team as they looked to be on track for a top ten outright and a podium position in class. So it was a case of the one that got away – but hey that’s Bathurst for you, it bites hard!
For the Safety Stop Porsche in Class B, it was another solid run for this team that has raced together at Bathurst before. Richard Gartner and his three amigos all jumped in the car and did a fantastic job all weekend. The car is now one of the older cars in its class, but they did a fantastic job to come home fourth in Class B.
I couldn’t be more proud of my guys – no mechanical problems on any car over the whole weekend! It was a massive undertaking, but we delivered exactly what we set out to for our customers.
There was little time to rest for the team after the chequered flag had fallen on Sunday. The team got stuck straight into the big job of packing up. The boys did not finish agian until close to midnight – a massive effort from the whole team and I am sure they slept very well once their heads eventually hit their pillows that night!
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved. I particularly want to thank Hobson Motorsport for putting their trust in us to run their two Nissans. And to Richard Gartner who has been with us for a very long time and who has some exciting plans with us in the future.
It is great that we are able to work with great customers like these guys, and I hope that we are able to exceed their demanding expectations. It is an honour to be given the opportunity to be a part of their motorsport adventures.
I am going to finish this Wallees Wrap up as I began – thanking my incredibly hard working team. To achieve what we did at Bathurst meant a lot of sacrifices from them. Less time with their family and friends and plenty of long days for weeks in the lead up.
But the credit is to them they did it all with a smile – It is one of the best teams we’ve had and I’m already looking forward to next years race!