It's been over two years since he's raced in front of a full crowd at Mount Panorama, but Bathurst 1000 hopeful Anton de Pasquale is excited about having fans back at the iconic track.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, crowds were restricted at last year's Bathurst 1000, but after a majority of restrictions lifted in recent weeks, fans are expected to be back out in force on Sunday.
De Pasquale, who has featured at the last three Bathurst 1000s, is set to feature in this year's Great Race with Supercars veteran Tony D'Alberto and he's ready to be racing in front of a big crowd on Sunday.
"Last year was a bit weird and a bit awkward with the amount of people we're use to. I haven't done many Bathursts, but the ones I have been to have been fairly large," he said.
"Not having that at the track last year was very different but when you're racing, you don't normally notice that because you're racing.
"It's all the stuff during the week around town like the signing sessions, that stuff was really lacking and the atmosphere wasn't as good, so I'm pretty excited for it to be back in full steam this year."
Two-time Bathurst 1000 runner-up Scott Pye shared de Pasquale's sentiment, saying how the Great Race makes the town "come alive".
"The town comes alive which really makes for a much more enjoyable event and it's what we grew up with racing as well. The atmosphere is part of the history there as well," he said.
"You grew up as a kid watching and always wanting to race on the largest platform there is Australia and that's the Bathurst 1000 and Bathurst 1000 fans."
With the Bathurst 500 serving as the opening race of the 2021 Supercars season and the Bathurst 1000 acting as the final event of the campaign, this year is unique where most travels will have the chance to race at Mount Panorama twice throughout the season.
Pye, who will be driving with James Goldings for this year's Bathurst 1000, is excited about the chance to drive at Mount Panorama twice in one Supercars season.
"To race there twice is amazing, obviously it was a little bit bitter-sweet with the first event not being the Adelaide 500 with me being a South Australian boy, but of course getting to race at Bathurst more than once is not a bad thing, it's one of my favourite tracks that I've ever been too," he said.
"It's one of the places we all enjoy racing at and when the fans aren't there it's not quite the same. That atmosphere this year, to have that back again and see faces on the hill is something I am really looking forward to.
"That's what makes a shootout lap there so special, is that the atmosphere increases anxiety levels and makes the event what it is. The 1000 is not the 1000 without the fans, so yeah it's going to great to have them back."
Support categories will be on track at Mount Panorama from Tuesday, before the first Bathurst 1000 practice sessions start on Thursday.
The 2021 Bathurst 1000 is expected to get underway at 12.15pm on Sunday afternoon.
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