JOHN BOWE: '12 HOUR AS SPECIAL AS BATHURST 1000'
DEFENDING Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour winner and Australian Touring Car legend John Bowe believes the around-the-clock Enduro is just as special as the October V8 Supercar classic he won twice.
Bowe teamed with Paul Morris and car owner Garry Holt in a BMW last year to win the rain-affected 12 Hour race and break the stranglehold on the Event held to that point by the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions.
It was a gritty drive from the 1995 Australian Touring Car Champion, who teamed perfectly with Holt and Morris to win the event despite the apparent disadvantage of having two-wheel drive in four-wheel drive conditions.
This year, he teams with car owner Peter Edwards and Orange's Tim Leahey in a Maranello Motorsport / Il Bello Rosso Sponsored Ferrari F430 GT3 - but he says the race offers the same emotions.
"The Bathurst 12 Hour race is certainly dear to my heart and after the emotion of winning in 2010, it's just as special as the V8 Supercar event in October," Bowe said.
"What really appeals about the 12 Hour is the massive diversity of cars. In the past it has been strictly production based, but this year international GT cars have been allowed to compete.
"It's like going back to the days of Group C and Group A Touring Cars, with the huge speed differential - but isn't that what racing has always been about?"
Bowe last raced at Bathurst in October, driving his Touring Car Masters series Ford Mustang nicknamed 'Sally' but has prior experience in Ferrari's, racing one regularly in the early 2000s in the Nations Cup series.
The only similarities shared between his Mustang and the Ferrari he will race next week are a V8 Engine and four wheels, but Bowe believes adapting to different vehicles is part of the challenge - whilst racing with mates is part of the fun.
"The difference between the Mustang and a race prepared Ferrari will be mind boggling," Bowe enthused.
"But that's what I love about racing - the challenge and the variation, to learn it all over again. If it has four wheels and is prepared well, I will happily race it.
"I will be driving with a different couple of mates, Pete Edwards who owns the car and Tim Leahey. I like driving with mates in these long distance races because it makes it much more fun. We take the whole thing seriously but that doesn't mean that we can't have a laugh and a bit of fun along the way.
"I have raced lots of Ferraris over the years, and nothing gets people's pulse going more than the rumble of the prancing horse."
Well versed in what it takes to win Australia's biggest races, Bowe says he still gets a kick out of challenging the 6.213 circuit.
"Even after racing at Bathurst for 25 years, I still get such a buzz from driving on that track," he said, trademark grin in place.
"It is such a challenge, every lap is an adventure and to do a good job of stringing a lap together, and even more to pull a race together, gives a sense of achievement like no other.
"A 12 Hour race around Bathurst is a very serious test of human and mechanical endurance," he added.
"There will be many twists and turns to the race, as there always is, but this year will bring glamour to the Event with Audi, Porsche, Mosler, Lotus, and of course Ferrari. It will be an absolute cracker of an event, right up there with some of the worlds best endurance events.
"I hope people make sure they get along to The Mountain to support the heart of Australian motorsport!"
GT vehicles will join with production cars for the first time in 2011, with entries secured from Audi, BMW, Corvette, Ferrari, Ford, Holden, Lotus, Mitsubishi, Mosler, Nissan, Porsche and Subaru.
Historic Group N Touring Cars, Group C & A Historic Touring Cars, Improved Production, HQ Holden's and Formula Vee will feature throughout Friday and Saturday's action, ensuring a racing program that caters to nearly every type of Australian Motorsport fan.
-source: bathurst 12