Tony Bates is gearing up for one of the most demanding encounters of his motorsport career, when he races his KFC/Moveitnet/C-Tech Laser/B&B/Local Roadways Audi R8 at the brand-new, world-class Tailem Bend circuit for this weekend’s second round of the 2018 Australian GT Championship.
The round, held as part of the Shannons Nationals race meeting, will be conducted on the full “GT Circuit” configuration of The Bend Motorsport Park, which at 7.77km is the second-longest permanent racetrack in the world behind the famed Nurburgring.
The circuit consists of a staggering 35 corners along with an aggregate elevation change of 85 metres, and Bates said it will present a brain-frying learning curve for all the competitors.
“Normally, when I visit a new track for the first time, I will prepare myself by spending time on the simulator or studying in-car footage – because this is a brand new facility, none of those resources are available,” Bates said.
“The only information we have is the track map, so I’ve been thoroughly analysing it to figure out where the most important sections of the track are likely to be.
“From the photos, it looks like a very impressive motorsport precinct, so it’s a privilege to be one of the first people to race there.”
Bates will again be joined by Daniel Gaunt for the 68-lap endurance race, which features a unique format.
The first 24 laps will be contested on Saturday afternoon, upon which the race will be “frozen” and restarted for the remaining 44 laps on Sunday morning. There will be one compulsory pit stop in the Saturday phase of the race, and two pit stops on Sunday. Pit stop handicap times will be used to balance the field based on the driver rankings of each team.
“It’s an interesting format this weekend, and adopting the right strategy will be critical,” Bates said.
“The key will be completing the Saturday stage of the race on the lead lap, and then being in a position to challenge for the win on Sunday.
“Dan and I worked very well together at the Grand Prix and since then, we’ve found some significant improvements in the car which should make it a lot more competitive.
“We’ve also engaged the services of Adam De Borre, who has achieved a lot of success in Supercars with Chaz Mostert, and will be a valuable asset to our campaign.”
The Sunday portion of the race will be live streamed via the Shannons Nationals website, while a post-produced highlights package will be shown on SBS Speedweek in the weeks following the event.
Australian GT Championship Round 2 – Schedule
Friday, 13 April
15:35 – Practice (60 min)
Saturday, 14 April
12:30 – Driver A Qualifying (30 min)
13:15 – Driver B Qualifying (30 min)
17:00 – Race Part 1 (24 laps)
Sunday, 15 April
10:40 – Race Part 2 (44 laps)