The Porsche File Porsche-o-phile

Porsche Clubs at Bathurst

The Festival of Sporting Cars 2010 was held at Mount Panorama, Bathurst over the Easter weekend. Some 800 cars entered making it one of Australia's largest motor sports events ever. As part of the FoSC, Porsche Cars Australia invited all the Porsche Clubs from around Australia to participate in a Porsche Regularity event. After some initial self doubt, I entered a couple of months ago and joined 170 or so Porsches at Bathurst. And boy, I am glad that I did!

The car and trailer were set up on Thursday morning and we were joined by another GT3 couple, Chris & Julie, for the trek to Bathurst. After checking & re-checking tie down straps, lights etc we set off towards our scheduled overnight stop in Wagga, NSW, some 500 kms north. With Chris in his Cayenne S, and Robin driving the Land Bruiser we made the trip with little or no fuss.

The final 200 km short leg to Bathurst the following day was punctuated by a visit to Cowra and the famous Japanese Garden. The day was gorgeous and the gardens were a very peaceful place to spend an afternoon. The Japanese-influenced menu in the cafe worked very well for a Good Friday luncheon. Julie, Robin and I gave the cameras a workout whilst Chris tried some meditation (looked a lot like sleeping to us). Some touristy pictures here.

Tranquility - Cowra Japanese Garden

The run into Bathurst was easy and we were excited to be at the famous 6.213 kilometre, 23 turn Mount Panorama circuit. For my 'Porsche Cars at Bathurst' photo gallery, click here.

Our hotel, the very new Mirvac Citigate, is situated right at the Caltex Chase corner overlooking the circuit in an absolutely awesome location. Our sixth floor unit gave us a superb base to watch the action from the balcony or take the short walk over the 'ArmorAll Bridge' to the paddock & pits proper.

It looks easier on Paper! - The Mount Panorama Circuit Layout

As a special treat, Porsche Cars Australia arranged for two 'Museum' cars to participate in the event, a rare road-registered RHD GT1 from the early 2000s, and a 935 Turbo in splendid Martini livery, circa 1985. Also the limited edition Boxster Spyder, the only one currently in Australia prior to it's public release later this year made an appearance. Outstanding!

The new Boxster Spyder

The format for the Porsche event was a CAMS approved 'Regularity'. With such a large number of cars participating, the timing was slightly changed to an 'average' timed lap deviation, rather than variance from a specified time. There were three cars to a team, and I again joined with Chris in his silver GT3 and Dennis in a slightly tricked out white 928S. Our team was catchily named 'Jive Torque', complete with a (supplied) Bee Gees soundtrack. We were ably supported by our pit crew of Robin, Julie and Team Manager Paul. The girls were decked out in fancy hats and seemingly had more cameras and stop watches than hands!

GT3 Pit Crew, Julie & Robin

We kicked off with a Masters Session (basically a guided tour, five cars at a time) behind a designated 'Bathurst Master' to learn the lines and get a feel for the circuit. Our next chance was an untimed session of 30 minutes to put into practice what we had learned in the Masters session, followed by three separate 30 minute timed sessions over the next two days. In total we enjoyed over two hours total track time on Australia's most famous race track. Bring it on!!!

Dennis & our intrepid Team Manager Paul

Be careful what you wish for. In my Masters Session, the 'Master' was driving a Skoda Wagon (!), with a passenger on board, and I was unable to keep up, slipping and sliding all over the place and seriously wondering what I had got myself into. I felt way out of my comfort zone. The practice session wasn't much better. I was getting passed by everybody, the car felt 'floaty' on the straights and 'taily' on the twisty bits. Joyous.... The serious Session 1 continued the trend of disappointment. So on Monday night I went to bed really upset that I couldn't even enjoy the circuit, let alone post a decent lap time. My mindset was not helped by the fact that Chris was some 12 seconds quicker than me...

Best to drive a Silver GT3 then ...

Following a decent night's rest and some soul searching, the final two sessions duly arrived on the Tuesday and I resolved to 'have a crack'. I was lucky that a guy that I had a problem passing was brought into the pits early and I had some clear track ahead. After a couple line changes, some different gear selections at a couple of corners, and a little more courage to drive through the floating on Conrod Straight I managed to improve some 13 seconds and post a time of around 2.56. Not fast but no reason to feel ashamed either. Chris still got me as he improved to a 2.50. Dennis' times improved significantly as he also got more comfortable with the track and his new tyres.

A bottle of Moet was on offer (thanks Chris!) if the 'Jive Torque' team completed the event with cars and bodies intact. We all did! So we duly celebrated the achievement over yet more wine, dinner and tall stories at 'The GT Angus Steakhouse' in old Bathurst town. A fitting end to a sensational week. Thanks team!