Bathurst Race Report
Following on from a largely clean and positive weekend at Sydney Motorsport Park, I was keen to return home and put on a good showing in front of the biggest audience of the year and improve our position in the championship. Coming into the Bathurst round (4 of 5) we were 11th in the title chase having clawed our way back from 25th after a disastrous round 1 at Phillip Island.
Both practice sessions on Thursday ran incident free and saw us finishing the day a combined fifth on the time sheets. The car was well balanced and only minor changes were applied ahead of Qualifying on Friday morning. Friday morning bought with it a cool clear day and our Qualifying session was held early in the morning, so we knew the times would be quick. I decided to go out and push hard early to gain a ‘banker’ lap, which proved to be the fastest of anyone’s first flying lap and gave me the opportunity to come in and reset tyre pressures before heading off for another bite at the cherry. As the session went on the times improved and we were sitting fourth before my final lap. I put in a decent lap on the last go and managed to cross the line and post the second quickest time, behind Cameron Hill, before being pipped at the last moment by championship leader Jimmy Vernon. I was pleased with third place in what was an intense session right to the checkered flag.
Qualifying Result: 1st Hill (2:39.5), 2nd Vernon (2:40.0), 3rd Gulson (2:40.1)
Race 1 was an intense affair with battling throughout the 6 lap race. I was jumped off the line by Aaron Seton heading into turn one and tucked in for the run over the mountain, before losing another spot to Tim Brook coming down Conrod at the end of the opening lap. I managed to regain the place the following lap with a move down the inside at the Chase and set about chasing down the leaders. By lap 4 I had latched onto the back of the fight for second between Seton and Vernon and on the final lap managed to pass Seton heading into Griffins Bend. This secured our first podium of the year with third behind Hill and Vernon. Although a post race infringement saw Hill stripped of the win and relegated to the back of the field, putting us in second.
Race 1 Result: 1st Vernon, 2nd Gulson, 3rd Grice
Starting from second in race two on Saturday, I knew it was a good opportunity to go for the win and I immediately got a good jump and managed to hang on around the outside of Vernon at turn 1 and take the early lead. This proved to be key to our race, as a safety car was called halfway through the opening lap after a multi-car incident going up mountain straight. The safety car pulled in at the end of lap 3 leaving us in a fight for the win with Vernon and Jack Milligan. We had been quick all weekend over the top of the mountain, and this proved crucial in holding onto the lead over the race distance. In each of the final three laps I managed to pull a gap on Vervon through sector two which meant the pack wasn’t able to get the tow coming down the long Conrod Straight. The speed over the downhill section of the mountain proved enough to maintain the lead and I crossed the line for my first career victory, at my home track! I couldn’t have been happier!
Race 2 Result: 1st Gulson, 2nd Vernon, 3rd Milligan
The biggest day in Australian motorsport was upon us come Sunday morning, and we were first out on the track for our final race of the weekend. It was a special moment to start from first on the Sunday of the Bathurst 1000, and I was feeling good heading into our final battle. Unfortunately I couldn’t replicate my great start from the previous day and dropped to third in the run up the hill for the first time. Things got worse at the end of the lap, whilst alongside Liam McAdam, when Milligan touched both of us under brakes into the Chase sending me across the grass and dropping to seventh place. This incident left me with some mild steering damage, but I managed to move back up to fourth by race end. It was an unfortunate way to end our weekend, but Iwas glad to have bagged a lot of points and finish second overall for the round.
Race 3 Result: 1st Vernon, 2nd Grice, 3rd Major (4th Gulson)
Following such a strong weekend we now sit fifth in the championship only a few points behind second place heading into the Toyota 86’s final round at the Newcastle street circuit. I’ll be pushing hard to try and achieve a podium result in the championship at the beach-side circuit in just under a month’s time.
See you all there!
1 Vernon – 1014
2 Grice – 704
3- McAdam – 704
4 – Hill – 688
5 – Gulson – 648