British GT Bathurst rookies stunned by mountain challenge
British Bathurst rookies Adam Sharpe, Tom Shrimpton and Patrick Pearce took their first look at the fabled Mount Panorama circuit today - each being stunned but excited at the challenge ahead in this weekend's Bathurst 24 Hour presented by Formula Green and Eagles Boys Pizza.
Mosler driver Pearce joined Sharpe and Shrimpton who were taken on a tour of the track by their Morgan Aero 8 team-mate Neil Cunningham.
Born in New Zealand, raised in Australia, but resident in the UK for the past 20 years - Cunningham has previously raced a V8 Supercar at Mount Panorama.
"Bathurst has to be the best circuit in the world, it is a real driver's track and every lap you do here is exciting," Cunningham said.
"I have been racing in the UK for 20 years now but it is great to be back. Depending on who is winning the rugby decides whether I am a Kiwi or Australian - so this week I am an Aussie!"
"The Morgan is really good on tires and brakes and its fuel consumption is also impressive so we should be quite strong in a race like this."
The Morgan team's Australian connection continues with Cunningham's team-mate Adam Sharpe. Born in the UK, Sharpe's mother is actually Australian.
"It is good to back in Australia and I can't wait for the race this weekend," Sharpe said.
"I have my rugby shirt cut in half for Saturday night - one half Australian and one half English.
"This is my first time here at Bathurst and my first ever 24 Hour race. Everybody was telling me the circuit was very steep and I thought it wasn't too bad - that was until we started heading back down the hill!
"This is definitely one of the greatest circuits I have ever seen."
Tom Shrimpton joins Cunningham and Sharpe in the Morgan for the first time this weekend. The young UK star turned 18 last Wednesday and is enjoying a break from school this weekend!
"This place is absolutely unreal, it is like nothing I have ever seen before - words really can't describe it," Shrimpton said.
"I want to get in the car and drive now - I really can't wait. My school friends were very jealous that I was coming down here. It is going to be an amazing weekend."
22-year-old Pearce will team up with Martin Short, Charles Lamb and kiwi female racer, Heather Spurle in the Mosler in this week's Mount Panorama event.
Short's Mosler squad finished 2nd in last year's inaugural Bathurst 24 Hour.
"The track is just amazing, I never been to a circuit like this before. I heard a lot about it, but it is a lot bigger and better than what I expected," Pearce said.
"I have watched the V8 Supercars on television before but the first time I went around the circuit here it really took my breath away.
"The Mosler should be very quick around here. It has a real torquey engine which will be handy coming up the hill, but it is a bit wide so it will be a little like threading the needle coming through some of the tight parts of the circuit like the dipper.
"It is an easier car to drive compared to the Porsche which I usually drive. It is good for endurance races because you don't have to push as hard."
The Channel Seven television network in Australia will devote more than seven hours live coverage to the race, mixed with its telecast on Saturday night of the Rugby World Cup final match, which will be watched by fans on two giant screens at the top and bottom of Mount Panorama.
Tickets to the Bathurst 24-Hour are on sale from $32 for adults through Ticketmaster7, on ph. 1300 136 122 or www.ticketmaster7.com.au.