The Passion is Stronger Than Ever For Larkham Throughout the past five years our lives have changed dramatically. Airport security has moved with the times and tightened in line with International standards to a point where it's now taboo to...
The Passion is Stronger Than Ever For Larkham
Throughout the past five years our lives have changed dramatically.
Airport security has moved with the times and tightened in line with International standards to a point where it's now taboo to even carry nail clippers on board an aircraft.
Technology now rules our world with e-mail no longer an option, but rather a necessity and SMS texting is a regular means of communication.
While there are many things in people's lives that may have changed there is one thing that hasn't in Mark Larkham's life, his desire to win the Bob Jane T-Marts 1000 at Bathurst.
After finishing third in 1997, coming tantalizingly close to victory in 1998 after running with the leaders for the majority of the race before enduring an electrical failure forcing him to fourth within sight of the finish Larkham was hoping for 1999 to be his year.
In 1999 North Melbourne won the AFL Premiership and the Melbourne Storm debuted in the NRL before winning the premiership and Larkham started Australia's great race from pole position.
At the time Larkham was running a single car team campaigning a Ford AU Falcon and was paired with Brad Jones for an assault at Mount Panorama with one of the smallest teams in pit lane.
During qualifying Larkham broke the outright lap record previously held by Neil Allen in a Formula 5000 to earn the right to start from pole Larkham and he was full of confidence and adrenalin for the following 24 hours.
"I will never forget that feeling, it was something very, very special," said Larkham.
"Then the next morning before the race it was the busiest, but also the most excited I have ever been at a race meeting with everyone wanting to interview, wish me luck, corporate appearances, it was incredibly busy.
"I remember the relief when I finally got strapped into the car, it allowed about 15 minutes to relax uninterrupted and focus on the job ahead in the 161-lap race."
Not one of his best starts, Larkham dropped to fifth during the opening stint behind Jason Bright. Larkham handed the car over to Jones who got involved in an incident racing with one of the HRT cars. The subsequent off circuit excursion caused some overheating dramas, and unfortunately this included the clutch.
Larkham's race came to a premature end with clutch problem relegating him into retirement after only 62 laps completed.
Since that one day in October during 1999, Larkham's passion for a Bathurst victory has grown even greater. This year a pair of Orrcon Racing Falcon's directed under his leadership will be given a serious shot of elevating all four Larkham Motor Sport drivers to the podium at Mount Panorama.
After their strong performance at Sandown, former Bathurst Champion Jason Bargwanna and Mark Winterbottom are expected to figure prominently at Bathurst in the Orrcon Racing Number 10 Falcon.
"The guys did a fantastic job at Sandown, it was testament to the effort that has been put in by the entire team over the past 12 months," said Larkham.
"It is this effort by the team that gives me confidence we can be a serious contender at Bathurst."
While Larkham's full time driving duties are a thing of the past as he juggles the management of Larkham Motor Sport, being a Board member of both AVESCO and the Touring Car Entrants Group of Australia, family commitments with four young kids and gym work, his return to the drivers seat pairing with New Zealander Matt Halliday has the 41-year-old fueled up for Bathurst.
The pace Larkham showed during the opening laps at Sandown where he moved from 29th to 19th within the opening ten laps before enduring an engine misfire for the remainder of the race added fuel to his fire.
"For me it is no longer about my driving career it is about Larkham Motor Sport succeeding," however, after a recent successful test day, and Sandown I'm really fired up" and Bathurst for whatever reason seems to drag out that little extra in me" said Larkham.
"To be standing on the top of the podium at Bathurst is the No1 ambition of any V8 Supercar driver, and I'm no different, but if it is not me up there I would love for nothing more than to have two of my drivers there.
"We have two really strong cars and four quality endurance drivers, there is no reason why we can't have both cars well inside the top ten."
One thing is certain that if passion, dedication and desire count towards the victory Larkham and his dedicated Orrcon Racing team will once again be at the pointy end of the field at Bathurst.