Bathurst 6 Hour could create enduro history

MONSTER GRID: A field of 66 cars has nominated for the second edition of the Bathurst 6 Hour this April. Photo: NATHAN WONG

MONSTER GRID: A field of 66 cars has nominated for the second edition of the Bathurst 6 Hour this April. Photo: NATHAN WONG

RICHARD Craill has seen plenty of remarkable moments during his career as a motor sport commentator, but this April he is preparing to witness history at Mount Panorama.

The Bathurst 6 Hour has received 66 entries and if all of them end up making the start for the April 16 endurance race, it will be a record.

”It’s going to be a pretty amazing sight because when they are all gridded up, they are going to go so far up back onto Conrod Straight around that corner,” Craill, who is media manager for the 6 Hour, said.

“I’m not just sure how far back they’ll go, but it’s going to be a long way up to the bridge coming out of The Chase. It’s going to fill so much of the track, you’re not going to know where to look when they all go past because there is going to be this constant stream of cars.

“It is exciting because there is the chance we can make a bit of history with it as well. There are things that can change and we are still a month out, but we could be setting a record for the biggest ever grid to start an enduro at Bathurst.

“So just to be in place to watch a bit of history is very, very cool, especially at a place like Mount Panorama.”

The current record starting grid for an endurance race held at Mount Panorama since 1963 is 63.

That mark has been reached three times: first in the 1969 Hardie Ferodo 500, again in the 1978 Bathurst 1000 and finally in the 1984 Great Race.

Of the 75 previous major endurance races at the 6.213 kilometre circuit, 14 have seen starting grids of 60 or more cars.

Larger fields have nominated in the past, but not all cars have made the grid. That was the case in the 1971 Hardie Ferodo 500 when 61 of a possible 70 tackled the Mount.

The 6 Hour grid will consist of hopefuls in seven classes, with 17 brands and more than 30 different models set to be represented.

The A1 class, from which the overall winner is expected to come from, has 22 entries.

“Even with all the cool stuff I get to do going car racing, having this kind of field with such diversity and so many cars – the size is one thing, but the diversity is another – it’s really exciting,” Craill said.

“I think that there was an understanding that the market needed this type of race for these kind of cars.”

Craill, who’s career as a commentator includes being the voice of the Bathurst 12 Hour since 2007, said organisers did predict growth following the inaugural 6 Hour last year.

But they had not expected the response they received.

“The reaction to the first one – that we had 50 cars race for the first ever Bathurst 6 Hour was outstanding. That was probably on expectations if not a little bit above, so this year we knew it would grow,” he said.

“Last year’s race was really good, it was very competitive and a lot of people paid attention to it and it really created a buzz around production car racing.

“So we knew that they’d go up, we knew more people would be interested and want to be involved, but I’m not sure perhaps that anyone thought we’d get 66 cars, which is just a ridiculous number. It’s going to be quite a show.”

The Bathurst 6 Hour starts at 11.30am on April 16.