Mt Panorama -- A Lap With Marcos Ambrose As you cross the start-finish line you take a deep breath and get ready for the next one. You have to calm yourself down for the first corner (Hell Corner) because it is probably the easiest turn on the...
Mt Panorama -- A Lap With Marcos Ambrose
As you cross the start-finish line you take a deep breath and get ready for the next one. You have to calm yourself down for the first corner (Hell Corner) because it is probably the easiest turn on the circuit.
It is down to second gear for the corner and it is important to get a nice clean exit as the car drifts out wide. It's then up Mountain Straight which is one of the most important sections of the track when it comes to horsepower.
You hit the rev-limiter in fifth gear just the other side of the rise, which is about three quarters of the way up the straight.
The braking zone is uphill, so it allows you to get on the pegs a touch later for the right hander into CAT Bend which is my favourite corner of the track.
The corner is quite quick and is taken at the top of third gear, its is very enjoyable if the car is working right -- if you can get a good run out of here you can make up half a second.
You then charge up to the Cutting which involves a lot of concrete, cliff face and a big blind corner. The marshal here is your best friend all weekend because you simply don't know what to expect around the corner. This is a section of the track you really need to creep up on over the weekend.
The exit of the Cutting is the start of a section of track which I really class as one single stretch of lefts and rights where you need to use all the track if you can. You then get to McPhillamy which is a great corner with a big crest on it.
There is plenty of room on the outside if you go in too hot, but it can get quite exciting if you miss the entry to Skyline.
You really have to commit here and your car has to be right, if you are thinking too much here then you are going to be in all sorts of trouble -- it needs to come naturally.
A nice exit will get you across Skyline cleanly and into what I call the "downhill" section of the track.
This is as much about staying off the brake as it is about staying on the accelerator.
If you go in too hot you could crash two or three corners later because you just can't keep up with the car through the Coates Hire Esses.
You then get to the Victoria Bitter Dipper which is a good bit of fun.
It is not as dramatic as it looks on TV with a couple of wheels off the ground, it is actually a pretty smooth part of the track.
You are basically going as hard as you can from the Dipper through to Forrest Elbow.
This corner can suck you in and so many guys carry too much speed into here and get caught out.
I am very cautious on the exit because I have seen the video footage of Dick Johnson's crash through the trees here too many times.
There is a concrete wall there now, but you still get a little tingle when you think about Dick's crash there in the old Green Falcon.
It is important to be slow into Forrest Elbow and fast out so you can get on the power as quickly as possible down Conrod Straight.
You hit top gear and about 300km just as you start to drift the car to the left of the track for the shute into Caltex Chase.
This is the fastest part of any race track in the country and can be a bit scary.
Once you are into the Chase you are virtually pushing the brake pedal through the floor.
You creep off the brakes and hopefully the car is straight for the left hander.
If you lock the brakes here you will spear off through the corner and usually into the sand trap.
It is third gear for the right-hand exit, which can be very slippery on older tyres.
Then there is a short run down to Big Pond corner, where again the car drifts to the outside and across the start-finish line for another run down Bob Jane T-Marts Pit Straight.
It is a very long lap and if you get any part of it wrong it is very hard to make up for lost time.
There are so many variables on each lap with traffic, tyres and luck all playing a part.
Mt Panorama is also one of those places where if you make a mistake it is going to cost you, not only time, but some part of your car.
I can tell you one thing -- a good lap here feels fantastic and is very rewarding.
Qualifying is all about getting it right for one single lap -- winning at Bathurst is about keeping it altogether for 161 laps and that's why winning the race would mean so much.
THOUGHTS ON MT PANORAMA, BATHURST...
MARCOS AMBROSE -- PIRTEK RACING
"Bathurst rates up there with the best events in the world. The circuit is unique in that it is as still as raw and challenging as it ever was. The very high-speed cornering sadly doesn't exist on too many tracks now days. It really is a place that sorts the men from the boys. Any track where you're your steering binds up in the middle of a corner requires plenty of bravery. This is the one race every Australian kid dreams of winning.
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT
"Definitely taking pole position in my first year there in 2001. That was a very special lap and one I could probably never do again, ever. You earn a front row start at this place.
RUSSELL INGALL -- CALTEX RACING
"When you think of legendary races, you automatically think of Bathurst. Some of the antics that go on off the circuit are almost as amazing as the ones on it. It is quite an amazing circuit with its length and average speed. It is certainly one of the most challenging circuits in the world. It also has the potential for some of the biggest shunts if you get it wrong. I have won the thing twice and been very close a couple of other times. It is certainly on the "I want" list for any driver. When you look at how many guys have been trying for so long without winning it, it makes you feel privileged to be someone who has."
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT
"In 2001 while in the lead with only one stint to go, watching the car come down pit lane and seeing it appear looking like it has run into cow. Unfortunately, Larry had hit the tyre wall only a few metres from the pit lane entrance. It was another one which had gotten away and caused me nightmares for another 12 months."
A LOOK AT OUR CO-DRIVERS
Cameron McLean has earned an impressive reputation in many categories. In 1995 he was Australian Sports Sedan Champion. He was also Independents' Champion in the Super Touring series of 1997 and 1998. Cameron's 1998 achievements earned him the title of BMW Motorsport's most successful international driver. Cameron joined the V8 Supercar ranks in 1999 racing an ex-Dick Johnson EL Ford Falcon. His impressive and consistent performance gained him that year's Privateer Championship. He debuted at Bathurst in 1997 in a works Volvo, finishing fifth, and has raced at the Mountain many times since. His best results have been fourth outright in 2000 and 2001, driving a Falcon AU for Dick Johnson Racing. Cameron is currently on a high after finishing second in the recent Betta Electrical Sandown 500 in Melbourne with Russell Ingall in the Caltex Ford.
Greg Ritter is the son of Graham 'Tubby' Ritter, a spectacular and popular driver of the '60s and 70s who achieved success in a variety of Ford Escort Touring Cars and Sports Sedans. Like so many drivers, Greg started in Go-Karts winning one state and one national title. He went on to compete in Formula Ford for three years winning the national title in 1999 after a hard fought season-long battle. Greg had his debut drive of a V8 Supercar for Garry Rogers Motorsport at the inaugural Queensland 500 in September 1999. Having little test time in the team's VT Commodore, Ritter and Matthew Coleman finished a creditable 12th place. A questionable Stop-Go penalty robbed them of a possible top 10, finish. That same season Ritter paired with Steve Owen to finish ninth at Bathurst 1000. After some impressive drives GRM he stepped back aboard a privateer Commodore to contest the Shell series Clipsal 500 double-header in Adelaide, finishing 22nd and 23rd in an impressive but under-funded effort. In 2001 Ritter was signed by Dick Johnson Racing, qualified the DJR Falcon in the top-15 at both Queensland and Bathurst, and teamed with Cameron McLean to finish with a fourth placing at Mount Panorama. His talents earned him a place as full-time test driver, as well as endurance driver in 2002. He also contested selected rounds in the #71 DJR Falcon. Ritter gained a full time drive in 00 Motorsport Ford Falcon for season 2003, but has been left without a full-time ride this season. He has two V8 Supercar races this season and has won both. He won the final round of the Konica Minolta Series at Mallala in August and then team with Marcos Ambrose to win the Betta Electrical Sandown 500 in Melbourne.