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FINAL PREPARATIONS FOR BATHURST 6 HOUR UNDERWAY

The Bathurst 6 Hour is only a week and a half away, and most of the outright contenders have announced their plans and shown off some new machinery. A brief run down can be read in Auto Action 1707, but here is an overview of who is doing what.

The reigning Bathurst 6 Hour champions Nathan Morcom and Chaz Mostert will share a brand new Ford Focus RS that was revealed via Nathan Morcom.

The new Focus RS will debut at Bathurst after a limited test schedule though Mostert is confident that the car can defend their title, after last year’s success in the 10-year-old BMW 335i Coupe.

“It was a pretty easy decision really, the race was so fun last year and Nathan asked me to do it again with him,” Mostert said.

“The race has a lot of great drivers in it already and the field is bigger and better this year.

“I’m excited to compete on any weekend I can and I’m excited to race around Bathurst again in such a cool car.”

Warren Luff takes over the wheel of the BMW 335i Coupe as partner to Leigh Burges.

A second Ford Focus RS will also debut in the hands of Australian GT’s Tony Quinn, son Klark and Kiwi Andrew Waite.

Last year’s polesitter, Garth Walden will be hoping that year’s development will see his now two car Mercedes team in with a chance of victory. Niggling problems hurt the Mercedes team last year, but the team held a successful test day, bar the team’s star signing, Craig Baird.

Baird couldn’t make it to the test at Sydney Motorsport Park due to Queensland recent wild weather, but the team was joined by the crew for the second car led by Robert Woods, Duvashen Padayachee and Ben Porter.

Walden will also look after two class cars, but hopes the Mercedes A45 AMGs will be reliable after setting the pace last year.

“I think we’ll be a good shot at a win and that’s what we’re going for,” said a confident Walden.

“The sister car is also a real podium chance. Robert hasn’t been there before but should be up to speed quickly working with the other two guys in that car. Both Ben and Duvashen tested the car and were really quick – in fact all four drivers who tested were within the same ballpark.”

“We’ve made gains on the performance side but also on durability so it’s a better package overall,” Walden continued.

“There’s been gains in suspension and drivability so it will be a better package overall.”

Garth Walden Racing has 40 crew working across the four cars during the weekend and will be hoping to bring home the major prize for the catalyst of the Mercedes program, Ron Searle.

“We’re doing it for our mate Ron Searle, who was the instigator of getting the Mercedes’ on track but because he’s been crook still hasn’t seen the car run in person yet.

“He’s just gone through another round of surgery so won’t be with us this year, though his name will be on the car and he will be riding with us.

“It’s a big push to grab a Bathurst win for him.”

Rod Salmon also features in Mercedes A45 AMG, partnered by Nathan Antunes.

Joining Dimitri Agathos and Lachlan Gibbons in the Subaru camp are Toyota 86 Series frontrunner Cameron Hill and Carrera Cup youngster James Abela. The pair debuted the ex-Adam Proctor Subaru Impreza WRX STI at the final round of the Australian Production Car Series at Sydney Motorsport Park last year.

Hill and Abela have been developing the Subaru since the final round last year and have found significant gains while testing the car.

“Cameron and I have been doing a lot of running in preparation for the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour at not only our local Wakefield Park, but also at Sydney Motorsport Park and Winton Raceway, explained Abela.

“There is still a lot to learn with the car and a fair bit of development to come, but Cameron and I are very keen to get in and have a steer around one of the best tracks in Australia.

“In such a long race, a lot of things come into play not only in the car but also for the driver with fatigue and fitness acting as a huge influence on your race. With only two drivers for our outfit this is going to be very challenging, but it is a challenge we are both looking forward to while also delivering a lot of very valuable seat time.”

The experienced Hill is keen to see how the Subaru goes up at Mount Panorama.

“The WRX handles fantastically,” said the 20 year old Hill.

“Because it is a four wheel drive it has a lot of grip in the corners, but still moves around a fair bit when you push it to the edge.

“We can’t wait to get to the Mountain, and both James and I need to say a massive thank you to everyone who has gotten behind us to get us there.

“Special note must be made of particular people behind the scenes that have put in large amounts of effort and money to make this campaign possible for us – James’ dad Tony, my dad Colin – without him our car would not be race ready in time for this event – and Paul, Ross and Shaun on our crew – their support and the work they do has made this event possible for us.”

Other new cars set to feature in the race include:

Sieders Racing FPV GT-F

Sherrin Racing BMW M4

Krincorp Racing Holden Commodore VF SSV

MX5 Mania Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV

Conroy Motorsport Kia Proceed GT

The Bathurst 6 Hour takes place on April 14-16.