NINE years ago, Bathurst spectators were startled by the unlikely appearance of a Holden ute in a major 12-hour race for production cars. Next weekend, the Mount Panorama fans will see up to 20 utes as Australia's newest racing category takes to...
NINE years ago, Bathurst spectators were startled by the unlikely appearance of a Holden ute in a major 12-hour race for production cars. Next weekend, the Mount Panorama fans will see up to 20 utes as Australia's newest racing category takes to the track.
The RM Williams V8 BRute Muster will feature near-standard Holden Commodore SS and Ford Falcon XR8 utes in three 6-lap races - and drivers promise the action will be spectacular.
"The fans on top of the mountain are going to love the utes. They're a special crowd and we'll be putting on a show for them," said burly Ian "Big Mac" McAlister, a Falcon driver from Young, NSW.
"A lot of the fans will be from the country, like me, and there the V8 ute is king of the road. The racing V8 BRutes are not too far removed from what they drive, or wish they drive, and not surprisingly wherever we compete the crowd reaction is fantastic.
"The V8 BRutes will be quick and the racing as close as we dare. But they have no wings or aerodynamic aids - and no cattle dogs, haybales or cement bags in the back! - so things might get pretty interesting at fast corners like McPhillamy Park. And if it rains, watch out!"
Joining the traditional mountain crowd are expected to be hundreds of enthusiasts who will camp in a reserved area at the track for four days and display their roadgoing utes for prizes in the Great Ford Ute Muster. The best utes will join a track parade on Sunday morning.
Experts say picking a likely winner is near-impossible. The speed of the Holdens and Fords is evenly matched and drivers hail from backgrounds as diverse as V8 Supercars, NASCARs, single-seaters and even GT Ferraris.
However, strong contenders should include the winner of the last championship round, Michael Donaher (Commodore), Bathurst legend Peter Brock's son James (Commodore), Poolrite series leader Rod Wilson (Commodore) and Wollongong's Damien "Ice" White (Falcon).
(The 1992 Holden Commodore ute had a 165 kW V8 and was driven by Allan Grice, Brad Jones and John Spencer to a mid-field finish. The 2001 V8 BRutes produce around 240 kW and are expected to reach at least 235 kmh on Bathurst's Conrod Straight.)
BATHURST TIMETABLE: Thursday - 10.20 am Practice (30 min.), 3.10 pm Qualifying (20 min.). Friday - 11.30 am Race 1 (6 laps), 4.25 pm Race 2 (6 laps). Saturday - no activity. Sunday - 7.50 am Race 3 (6 laps).