A Lap of Mount Panorama with Peter Brock They call him the King of the Mountain, and with good reason. Australian racing legend Peter Brock first raced at Bathurst's legendary Mt Panorama circuit in 1969 in a Monaro GTS 350, and has taken on ...
A Lap of Mount Panorama with Peter Brock
They call him the King of the Mountain, and with good reason.
Australian racing legend Peter Brock first raced at Bathurst's legendary Mt Panorama circuit in 1969 in a Monaro GTS 350, and has taken on the Bathurst 1000 a total of 30 times for an unparalleled nine wins.
This week he returns to the Mount for the Bathurst 24-Hour Race, driving a 2003-model Monaro there for the first time. This is what he is expecting:
"The start-finish line is situated on a short straight, but you're probably doing 180 clicks as you pass in the mighty Monaro. The magnificent big brakes bite as you go back to third, back to second for Hell Corner. It's a tight corner, and you've got to get it right and carry a bit more speed out of it because it will hold you in good stead for the next 30-odd seconds if you're travelling even 2-3km/h faster than the car next door to you.
You boot it up Mountain Straight and you've got a right-hander. You can brake very late for it, because it is extraordinarily steep. You come from 250km/h back to 160-odd, back through, 5th, 4th and then 3rd, and really reef that car through the apex. There's a lot of camber on the road, and if you can hold your line and work with the camber it helps you haul into it. Fall off that camber and you run wide really easily, so you've got to get that corner right.
Up into the Cutting you're travelling in fourth gear near the limiter, probably 180-190km/h, but you've got to bang on the brakes, back to 3rd, to 2nd, and get that car turned in tight. It is difficult if you're having a red-hot go. You can get on the power on the exit, get a bit of drift. I always change from 2nd to 3rd early because there is a bit of a bump in the track and over a 24-hour race, the last thing I want to be doing is making that car bounce around as I'm changing gear. That will put unnecessary load on the tyres, the transmission and the clutch.
Swing the car towards the left-hand side of the track and then try to slot the eye of the needle as you go up into Reid Park. Drift out wide, under the bank on the entrance to Reid Park, and then use all the road on the left-hand side trying to straight-line it, then change into 3rd around the exit of that corner, then fourth, then you crest the top of the hill with all the crowd there, the traffic, the smoking barbecues, the flags, the signs -- it's a marvellous feeling to arrive at the top of that mountain, I can tell you.
You start to head towards the middle of the road and by the time you get to Reid Park proper you're at the absolute right-hand side then coming directly across and clipping the apex, then back across to the right as you go towards the crest leading into McPhillamy Park. This is one of the great corners -- fast, blind entry, you arrive almost flat and turn in and if you miss the apex you run wide and can really make a meal of the exit.
Getting McPhillamy right gives you a clean approach to Skyline. I always approach Skyline only about half-way across the track because I want to brake as hard as I can, as late as I can, close to the crest of going over Skyline. Get in hard under the embankment on the right-hand side, cut back left and straight-line it again towards the right-hand bank, on with the brakes and back to 2nd, and straight in towards the Dipper.
As you go in, you line the car up and give it a flick, and try to float it across the corner rather than trying to drive it around the corner. That way you don't load the suspension up as badly, particularly the right-front corner. That will be something to watch out for, hurting the front-right suspension, over 24 hours. The load on that spring is about three tonne at that point.
Down the short straight there, from 2nd to 3rd, you can accelerate quite hard, then you alternatively touch the accelerator and the brakes to balance the car to turn right into Forrest Elbow.
That's another difficult corner because it's a very steep downhill run, you can't see the road until you arrive there, you're going over a small crest that steepens, you need to get back into 2nd and balanced, and then turn left nice and early so you can get on the power driving through the apex.
Now you're honking down Conrod Straight -- a magnificent piece of road. I never like to be too far on the right, move towards the centre or the left; it doesn't bounce the car around as much.
Then we arrive at the Chase. You can go in there flat out, it's no problem, and particularly with the mighty Monaro having the aerodynamic downforce and the grip of those big tyres.
You keep the power on through the right-hand apex but get on the brake fairly soon afterwards, back from 6th to 5th, to 4th, 3rd, and let the big 7-litre engine get us out of the corner onto the next straight. Get up into 4th at the bridge, and then take a very late braking point into Murray's Corner.
Back to 3rd, to 2nd, clipping the apex and aiming for a smooth exit. Get the power down and there's the start-finish line for another lap down."
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.