The Mayor's mandatory munchies and drinks event last night was as enjoyable as any other non-optional cocktail hour, but this
Mayor actually had some interesting facts to convey instead of the normal political hogwash spilled before a group of people who live nowhere near Bathurst, many even nowhere near Australia, and won't be here to vote, even fraudulently, come the next election.
He was introduced by a heavily accented and middle aged athletic Councilman not wearing a jacket or tie, who had clearly played one game of footy too many (the effects of the absence of helmets and pads were obvious - when your index finger follows your intro speech notes like a 7 year old in school, there's a hint), then the only man in a jacket and tie rose to the dais and talked about who owned this track (the local citizens through the Bathurst Council - it's not Donald Trump or a billionaire family sticking it to the locals); it's birthdate back in 1938 when the then mayor had been awarded a federal grant to build a scenic route for tourists and went ahead and just built this insanely tricky race track (that's when the Mayor lowered his deep base voice and muttered almost to himself "Good on yer, mate"; and lastly that they just dropped $2 million repaving the entire track, which happens approximately every 12 years or so. The roads are open year round to tourists who enjoy the original intent of a government sponsored scenic drive, if they survive, and by law, the track is "shut" only 5 times a year for racing. Actually, only 3 major races use those spots, so 2 "shut down" opportunities exist for promoters to create more events here, which the minimally occupied hotel owners would appreciate enormously. Must be hard to run a bed and grub business with 5-15%occupancy 340 days a year and then staff it for 100% occupancy, overflowing guests sleeping on couches. Hardly ideal.
After another breakfast champions at an early hour when champions should still be allowed to sleep in, we walked across the LiquiMoly bridge to the garages 500 yards away, ready for the first Qualifying session at 9 AM. That lasted less than 2 laps before the chef's large spatula was summoned to scoop up the remains of a car in Turn 7, atop the Mount. Turned out to be one of our fastest Audi brethren, #5 sponsored by Skwirk for years. Romolo, Audi's chief sports car race overseer worldwide, thinks it's a 50-50 shot the repairwork can be done before 6:15 AM - tomorrow's green flag. Markus had already clocked his best time of 2 minutes 7 seconds in the only full lap of the session and was a second up on the red flag lap. Pity, but definitely a top 3 to 5 car so far. Off they go and despite knowing we have 2 more full quali sessions to go, a Porsche this time called the truckers out on track to collect his non-reparable bent metal. Again, one full lap, red flag. Crazy, just 11 minutes left for the last run, or about 2, maybe 3 good laps...or about the time it takes to catch the Fiat Abarths when traffic spoils any fast car's lap times.
The session ended with us in P7, though Markus had us in P1 halfway through the last 4 laps (they extended the session by 5 minutes), but all our last laps ran into slow traffic, so, at least at the end of Quali 1, we're in P7 with a 2:05.7 while a Ferrari (Mika Salo) sits on P1 with a 2:03.9. Work left to do is simpler now: Eric and I have to peddle our own 3 mandatory Quali laps into the compliance books in the next session, but will not alter the line up at all. Effectively just more practice laps for us, hopefully one or two clean ones. The sparks will fly this afternoon when the Class A-only 15 minute Quali Session determines the real starting grid, no ski mobiles and donkey carts on the track, just super-fast GT cars.
E N D O F R A C E R E P O R T # 2