HOLDEN Motorsport has nominated leading V8 race drivers Garth Tander, Steven Richards and Nathan Pretty to debut its striking new Nations Cup 7.0-litre Monaro in the inaugural Bathurst 24-Hour race on 16-17 November. The Monaro, sponsored by...
HOLDEN Motorsport has nominated leading V8 race drivers Garth Tander, Steven Richards and Nathan Pretty to debut its striking new Nations Cup 7.0-litre Monaro in the inaugural Bathurst 24-Hour race on 16-17 November.
The Monaro, sponsored by Just Car Insurance, has been built and prepared by Garry Rogers Motorsport and will form Australia¹s best chance of victory against the likes of Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Chrysler Viper GT sportscars in a local and international field of 52 starters.
"The completion of the car has ended nine months of concentrated design and fabrication work by a group of very dedicated people at GRM," Holden Motorsport Manager John Stevenson said.
"There was no Bathurst 24-hour race when we first began the Monaro Nations Cup project, but sometimes you just have to jump in the deep end and do the best job you can. We were already several months into the project with both Garry Rogers Motorsport and Harrop Engineering when the race was announced.
"The project has presented us with a number of considerable technical challenges with a lot of the suspension and engine work on the Monaro differing from what we know with V8 Supercars.
"We decided that if we are going to run against entries like the 8.0-litre Chrysler Viper, then our engine capacity had to be in the same ballpark.
"The combination we selected is based on the same GM alloy block and cylinder heads used in Chevrolet¹s 7.0-litre Corvette Le Mans entry and it gave us access to ^Ìoff the shelf¹ GM development.
"We might have to find a compromise between fuel consumption and speed for the 24-hour race.
"At 6700 rpm, the Monaro may prove to use more fuel than a V8 Supercar and that would then only give us 32 laps per tank.
"In a 24-hour race, that means you could possibly spend half an hour in the pits doing 25 stops, so we may have to pull the revs back a bit to get the consumption right."
Although the car has had minimum practice laps to date at Calder and in the wet at Bathurst, its winning possibilities have been clearly demonstrated.
"It¹s an awesome machine," said 2000 Bathurst winner Garth Tander after his recent shakedown run.
"It has heaps of potential. There¹s no reason why the Monaro can¹t do the business at Mount Panorama.
"It¹s a matter of trying to win at the slowest possible pace consistently lapping while keeping out of trouble," he said.
"I think we will need to circulate just off Supercar pace, maybe 2 mins 15 secs or 2:16, to be competitive.
"Qualifying will need to be in the 2:10 region," added dual Bathurst winner Steven Richards, whose sole 24-hour race experience was at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium in 1998, as an engine man for Nissan Racing.
"The Monaro should hold a home ground advantage against the world¹s best. The car will be strong and fast and the distance is no worry.
"However, you need to be aware of the speed differential between the outright contenders and the slower class cars particularly across the top of the mountain in the middle of the night!" Richards said.
Nathan Pretty, who finished an impressive fourth place for Holden Young Lions in the 2002 Bathurst 1000, gets his chance in this gruelling enduro.
"I¹ve always had aspirations for this sort of event, but never had the opportunity. To team up with long-distance men like Garth and Richo will be a great experience," Pretty said.
The Monaro faces a rigorous test program at Winton Raceway prior to its Bathurst debut, where Garry Rogers will lead a 32 man team for the 24-hour challenge the first time the Monaro nameplate has visited Bathurst since Colin Bond and Tony Roberts won the Hardie Ferodo 500 in 1969.