Tension builds as Monaro prepares for Bathurst return after 33 years, TENSION is building in the lead-up to the inaugural Bathurst 24-Hour race, with the Holden team continuing to keep its new Monaro under tight wraps while pit lane vigorously...
Tension builds as Monaro prepares for Bathurst return after 33 years,
TENSION is building in the lead-up to the inaugural Bathurst 24-Hour race, with the Holden team continuing to keep its new Monaro under tight wraps while pit lane vigorously debates its potential to beat the top European entries - and a German driver contemplates meeting a very different Aussie icon.
A Monaro will take to the Mount Panorama circuit in official practice tomorrow morning for the first time in 33 years, with the new 7.0 litre model at last forced to show its capabilities in the hands of four of Australia's top young V8 Supercar drivers.
The Monaro has been guarded closely since its arrival at Bathurst on Tuesday, with the doors to the Garry Rogers Motorsport garage kept shut until it was rolled out for a technical inspection today.
Even then, the scrutineering was carried out behind closed doors with the bigger-than-usual crowd of onlookers excluded on the instruction of team members.
The debate has developed after rival drivers, including Ferrari's John Bowe, claimed the specially-built Nations Cup Holden was too far removed from its roadgoing origins.
However, Garth Tander, who will share the Holden drive with Steven Richards, Cameron McConville and Nathan Pretty, said concern over its potential was a storm in a tea cup.
"I think they're getting worried about nothing. From the testing we've done it's still slower than other Nations Cup cars," Tander said.
"This race isn't going to be about the fastest car, it's about the car that can do 24 hours. We've concentrated on developing a car that's going to be reliable.
"It's a storm in a tea cup. The critics have been our best publicists, but they would be better paying attention to their own cars."
However, German driver Jurgen Alzen was more concerned about meeting another Australian icon during his first race Down Under.
"I hear that sometimes a kangaroo has jumped out on to the track. Is this true," asked the Seikel Motorsport Porsche driver, referring to the appearance of a large 'roo near Forrest's Elbow during the recent Bathurst 1000 weekend.
"I love this track, but you will have to be very careful to stay away from the walls. The last thing I want is to see a kangaroo as well."
The Bathurst 24-Hour meeting gets under way tomorrow with practice and qualifying for all cars in the Bathurst 24-Hour, GTP 2-Hour Showroom Showdown and V8 BRute and Holden HQ sprint races. The V8 BRutes and Holden HQs each will have a late-afternoon race.
The 36 starters for the 24-Hour will hit the track at 10.15 am and contest three qualifying sessions through until 9.45 pm.
The sessions will be used to give drivers experience of the track in day and night conditions, to fine-tune the cars' cornering set-ups and to determine fuel range between pit stops.
The fastest lap time will earn pole position for the rolling start at 4 pm on Saturday.
Australia¹s first major international 24-Hour race, the Bathurst 24-Hour will start at 4 pm on Saturday 16 November, after day and night qualifying sessions on Friday. Support events will be a 2-Hour GTP Showroom Showdown for GTP cars, and races on Friday and Saturday for V8 Brutes and HQ Holdens. Tickets, priced from $40 for two days, can be purchased through Ticketmaster7 by phoning 1300 136 122 or visiting www.ticketmaster7.com More information about the event is on the official website, www.bathurst24hr.com.