Bathurst 12H: Daniel Erickson practice report

Daniel Erickson sets respectable time in not much time at Bathurst 12-Hour practice More a baptism of rain than of fire -- that was Daniel Erickson's introduction to the legendary Mount Panorama circuit today's during the official practice ...

Daniel Erickson sets respectable time in not much time at Bathurst 12-Hour practice

More a baptism of rain than of fire -- that was Daniel Erickson's introduction to the legendary Mount Panorama circuit today's during the official practice sessions for Sunday's Bathurst 12-Hour production car race.

Having completed just two 'sighting' laps in Morcom Motorsport's BMW 335i at the end of the first hour-long practice session, the 22 year-old Sydney driver clocked a respectable fastest lap of 2min. 38.0sec. in the first half of the second and final session.

That was 1.3sec off car owner Barry Morcom's best time from the first session.

Then the heavens opened for the final 30 minutes, effectively ending Erickson's first high-speed driving lesson around the 6.3km racetrack.

The rain gave Morcom and Paul Stubber their second stints behind the wheel.

While Erickson was happy with his results for the day, he was confident of slicing large chunks off his best lap time as he became more familiar with the circuit and the car.

"Mount Panorama is an incredible track, no question," he said afterwards.

"The bottom section from Murray's Corner, along Pit Straight, through Hell Corner and up Mountain Straight, is fairly straightforward, but the rest of the lap is awesome!

"The steep climb through The Cutting, the undulations from Sulman Park to McPhillamy Park, and the right-left-right-left-right-left descent from Skyline to Forrest's Elbow are tremendously challenging.

"And Conrod Straight, with its high-speed kink into the Chase, is something else again!"

Despite seeing the circuit before at road car speed, Erickson said that was nothing compared to driving it at racing speed.

"With no margin for error around most of the track I was taking things steadily today, so I'm pleased to get fairly close to Barry's times.

"After studying the data to see where I can make up time, and getting some tips from Bathurst veterans like John Bowe and Glenn Seton, I know that there's plenty of scope for improvement.

"I can save a second just between Murray's Corner and Griffin's Bend."

Erickson said that the BMW 335i was very different from the karts and openwheeler racing cars he'd driven previously.

"Production Touring rules don't allow many modifications from a standard road car, so that's what the BMW feels like.

"With the two turbos tuned to operate at different engine speed ranges there isn't much 'lag' at low rpm, but the standard gearing isn't ideal for racing.

"The car bogs down in some corners, and I didn't even get into sixth gear down Conrod Straight.

"Braking is tricky because the ABS cuts in if you jump on the pedal, so you try to avoid that happening.

"Also, production touring car tyres have a small amount of tread so they're like 'intermediate' damp track racing tyres rather than dry weather slicks."

Erickson said that the early indications were that the BMW, being in Class B (High-performance rear-wheel-drive), couldn't match the speed of the leading cars in Class A (High-performance all-wheel-drive) in this year's Bathurst 12-hour race.

"The Mitsubishi Evos are very quick on a dry track, and of course being all-wheel-drive they have an inbuilt advantage when it rains -- which is likely to happen on Sunday, according to the weather forecast.

"Our first target is to do well in our class, and then see how many of the Class A cars we can outlast for the outright placings."

Erickson said that the learning process will continue through Saturday morning's 40-minute final practice session, the 30-minute afternoon qualifying session and the race itself.

"Barry knows that we all have to go faster to put pressure on John Bowe/Paul Morris/Garry Holt in the other BMW, let alone the Evos.

"The decision on who will drive our car in qualifying will probably depend on the weather.

"If it's dry I might get to qualify the car, but if it's wet -- which looks likely - then Paul Stubber will probably drive because he has more experience in the these conditions."

-source: daniele rickson

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Series CAMS
Drivers Paul Morris , John Bowe , Glenn Seton , Paul Stubber , Garry Holt , Barry Morcom , Daniel Erickson