Bathurst 1000: Drivers beat Craig Lowndes’ lap record time of two minutes, 6.8012 seconds, set in 2010.

DRIVERS at this weekend’s Bathurst 1000 are really living life in the fast lane. And don’t expect them to slow down any time soon.

The resurfaced Mount Panorama circuit lived up to its reputation yesterday as driver after driver beat Craig Lowndes’ lap record time of two minutes, 6.8012 seconds, set in 2010.

As it stands, the current lap record holder is the unlikely David Reynolds, who set the blistering mark of 2:06.3714. But, weather permitting, that mark is not expected to survive the second day of practice today.

It all sets the scene for what should be an exhilarating weekend of racing.

While Bathurst locals continue to debate what events should be run in town throughout Race Week, the main attraction – the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 – just goes from strength to strength.

The influx of race pilgrims will increase from the steady trickle of recent days to full flood tomorrow and the world-class facilities at the Mount Panorama circuit will ensure they don’t go home disappointed on Monday.

But, certainly, the most compelling argument in support of the Great Race comes from the drivers themselves.

It was inspiring yesterday to hear Craig Lowndes – a man who knows Mount Panorama better than most – describe the mix of fear and exhilaration that comes with taking on Australia’s most challenging race circuit.

“You go there not knowing what to expect and of course that is the fear factor, not knowing,” he said.

And it’s that thrill of the unknown – along with the promise that Mount Panorama always delivers the unexpected – that will see millions of Australians tune in on Sunday to watch the latest instalment of motor racing’s greatest soap opera.

We can hardly wait.

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