Insights with Rick Kelly: Bathurst, the tough way

Why fly to Bathurst when you can take a road trip in an obscure three-cylinder sportscar? That’s what V8 Supercars driver and Motorsport.com columnist Rick Kelly did this year – and loved every second of it.

We have completed the annual Bathurst road trip over the past three days, and once again we made it to Bathurst in one piece. A great success!

Every year it gets harder to find something new and unique for the 800-kilometre journey, and still include the primary reason we do the road trip; to arrive in town for our biggest event of the year with a fresh frame of mind ready to attack The Mountain.

This year we had the Nissan Figaro and Nissan Navara NP 300, both matched with Jayco caravans, so we genuinely got to do a couple of nights of caravanning along the way.

On Sunday night we we camped alongside the Nagambie lakes, and it really was incredibly relaxing. It’s definitely a place I would like to go and spend some more time at away from race week preparations.

The Figaro was something unique. It truly was a little rig that caught a lot of attention along the way. We certainly got a lot of looks, beeps and waves en route. It’s amazing the number of people who must follow our progress on social media.

Although I don’t think it was ever in doubt, the little three-cyclinder, one-litre turbo-charged rocket never skipped a beat. And it will be an outfit I’m going to find it very difficult to part with after the weekend.

As you get closer and closer to Bathurst, you see more and more people heading in the same direction, so there are a lot of well-wishers along the way.

It’s always great to see so many smiling faces when they see the road trip convey roll through town.

We’re always fairly deep in thought, deep in preparation in the job that we’ve got at hand, which is getting up the front of the field as far as we can. You sort of forget about the ambitions that everyone else has, going up there and camping with their mates and having some fun.

It’s such a significant event, and so important to a lot of people for a lot of different reasons.

I’m excited to be here, and I can’t wait to get stuck into it.

 

That First Lap

I’ve been to Bathurst for so many years now and it’s always a place that gets you going. Rolling into the circuit and seeing that Mount Panorama sign on the side of the hill simply gives you chills.

We did a lap of the track yesterday afternoon in the Figaro, and every single year you stand on top of The Mountain and look down, it’s just incredible.

It’s amazing how high the top of the track is; every other track we visit is essentially flat in comparison. This place is just like nothing else.

The Figaro with the Jayco on the back had a real struggle up the hill, but we got to Skyline, and parked up there for a little bit to take in the view.

It’s hard to keep calm and relaxed through the lead up to the event. Today we have a lot of media, fan and sponsor commitments to take in, and you get asked the same question day in and day out about ‘how are you going to go’?

No matter who you are, whether you’re the favourite, or the least favourite, you just don’t know how you are going to go.

Look at last year’s podium. Even half way through that race, there is nobody who would have predicted the final outcome.

Tomorrow is all about setting the tone for the weekend, settle into the car nice and quickly, sort the car out for the track. Everyone’s plan is simply to get through the first couple of days of the race weekend without a mishap.

Every single year we see at least a couple of cars significantly damaged through different incidents in the opening days.

As a driver you always have that in your mind, it’s a track that can bite you really quickly, so you treat it with a lot of respect.

I can’t wait to get the Jack Daniel’s Nissan out on track to see what we’ve got.

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About this article
Series Supercars
Event Bathurst
Track Mount Panorama Circuit
Drivers Rick Kelly
Article type Analysis