HAVING GT cars do laps of Mount Panorama is nothing new, but on Monday there was a first as BMW had the iconic Bathurst track to itself.
In what was a clear indication of how serious the German manufacturer is to find success in next year’s Bathurst 12 Hour, BMW booked the track for a private testing session.
But that is not where it ended.
A group of German GT technicians attended both last week’s Challenge Bathurst and Monday’s three-hour test as did factory BMW driver Marco Whittmann.
The test involved the two Steve Richards Motorsport entries and one from MARC Cars. Joining German superstar Whittmann were former Bathurst 1000 winners Chaz Mostert, Mark Winterbottom, Paul Morris, Steve Richards, Mark Skaife, Russell Ingall and Tony Longhurst.
“It was probably the best way we possibly could have got some mileage ahead of February. To be able to tack on front of BMW’s customer event was great – you don’t get the opportunity very often to get the track for your own personal use for a couple of hours, it was incredible,” Richards said.
“There are many manufactures coming up to compete in the 12 Hour and BMW, essentially being their first year back in Australian motor sport for something like 20-odd years, they are taking it pretty seriously.
“To have the technical support, the assistance of the guys from Germany to see what we should be doing and shouldn’t be doing – it’s a great tick in the box for our program.”
While the BMW M6 GT3 that Richards will share with Winterbottom at the 12 Hour was unable to compete at Challenge Bathurst after being damaged at the Highlands 101, it was repaired in time for the private test.
It meant defending Supercars champion Winterbottom had to chance to get behind the wheel of a GT for the first time.
“They had been burning the midnight oil for the last couple of weeks to get the car ready and going,” Richards said.
“Frosty [Winterbottom] was naturally pretty happy to get some laps and not only that, to get some laps where we are going to be racing.
“We are leaving no stone unturned in our preparation for this event. The 12 Hour in real terms is only eight weeks away.”
Richards said the best lap times were in the mid 2:03s.