THE ROAD TO A BATHURST 6
How does it happen?
Many of you may wonder how a motorsport team comes together to win a major event like the Bathurst 6 Hour race. For some teams there is a long history of participation in the competition and the experience that comes with it, for others it can be a completely new experience. We have been fortunate to be involved with both types of Teams, the former via our involvement with Osborne Motorsport in the Class C competition (who won Class C in 2021) and the latter with Tegra Australia & CHE Racing in the Class X Competition which resulted in both a Class and Outright win of the Bathurst 6 Hour in 2022 under quite dramatic circumstances. The experience with Tegra Australia is a tale of hard work and talent, combined with resilience and a measure of luck thrown in for good measure.
A race against time!
The Tegra Australia team utilised CHE Racing to initially prepare the BMW M2 Competition for the Bathurst 6 Hour due to their extensive experience in the Toyota 86, Porsche Carrera Cup and Formula Ford racing series. The choice of a BMW for the 6 Hour was an easy one as the competition has been dominated by the BMW M3 and M4 models in recent years. The choice of an M2 Competition though was a bold, one as this specific model had never been raced in the 6 Hour. The preparation of the car began in earnest during Feb/March 2022 with the 6 Hour race to be held on April 17! This left a race against time, for the car to be ready. The drivers selected were Cameron Hill (the reigning Porsche Carrera Cup champion and current Triple Eight Super2 driver) and Tom Sargent (the reigning Australian Formula Ford champion).
With the race only a month away the build was still in progress, and with delays due to supply issues, with some parts coming from Germany, USA and England, it was starting to look like an impossible task to get the car ready in time. A chance conversation between Tom Sargent’s father Craig Sargent and his friend Steve Haynes from Josh Haynes Motorsport introduced Locky Donohue from Bromspec Motor Works to bring his specific BMW tuning & setup knowledge to the team as well applying his experience in Australian Production car racing to the car. The rapidly expanding team worked long hours and weekends to get the car ready and managed to get just two short shakedown tests of the M2 completed, during which thankfully the car ran faultlessly. The car ran pretty much an off the shelf tune but with alterations and adjustments made by Locky the setup emphasised driveability and reliability over absolute power.
Joy, Heartbreak and Resilience
With very little running of the car prior to the event the team were realistic about their chances. However, free practice sessions showed the car and driver combination to be real contenders achieving P3 in the first two free practice sessions and P1 in the last session before qualifying. Qualifying went well with a decision to let Tom Sargent take the reins paying off with a blistering lap which was at that point the second quickest lap in Bathurst 6-hour history gaining them Pole position. Unfortunately, after passing all post session scrutineering up to that point the final checks were done at the end of the day after all the media interviews. The temperature had cooled significantly, and the team were surprised to find that the car was deemed to be 2mm under the minimum ride height for the event thus disqualifying their qualifying laps and taking away their pole position resulting in the team starting in 63rd position! As you might imagine this was more than disappointing for the team. However, such was the professionalism and resilience of the team they brushed off the setback as “one of the ups and downs in motorsport”, held their heads high and proceeded to plan to get a good result the next day.
The fairy-tale comes true !
Starting from 61st and last place, the crowd saw Tom Sargent take the opening stint. Tom set the race up, scything through the field. His stint included a gain of 19 places in the first lap and 20 in the next as the entry ended the opening hour third. Never being out of the frontrunning teams, a fierce challenge came from the Car Mods Australia BMW M3 shared by Supercars race winner Tim Slade and Brad Carr. In a sensational final stint, Hill chased down and made a daring pass on Slade at Brock Skyline with under 20 minutes remaining. Once in the lead, he was never challenged, winning the race by 7.465 seconds. The win was a great reward for the team after a frantic build up over the preceding couple of months and many late nights and long hours by all team members. In taking victory, the Team continued BMW’s winning streak in Australia’s premier production car race, now six-straight wins and the second-consecutive BMW 6 Hour podium clean-sweep in the process establishing a new lap record for the 6-hour race.
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