Bathurst 6 Hour Win 2023

Preparation, testing and persistence.
We have been fortunate to have been involved in three consecutive Bathurst 6-hour wins with three different teams, Osbourne Motorsport Class C in 2021, Tegra Australia Outright/Class X in 2022 and for 2023 Bromspec Motor Works were engaged by the Secure Wealth team which resulted in another Outright/Class X win.

The Simon Hodges’ Team had their BMW M4 entered in Class X with drivers Simon Hodges and Jayden Ojeda. There was a total of eight BMWs entered in the top class (Class X), each of which had experienced drivers of note.

Unlike our winning campaign in 2022 there was a more structured and planned approach to entering the race.
Preparation - 6 months prior to race:
The Simon Hodges’ Class X BMW M4 Team, including Bromspec Motor Works had been working on the development of the car for the 6 months prior to the race in early April. This development included alteration to the setup for heat management within the engine bay, making the tune drivable at elevation and making changes to manage the power and torque output to have the car to get maximum traction with the MRF tyres. The MRF tyres were the control tyres for this class and are a much harder compound than for example the Michelin Cup2R.
2 weeks prior to the race:
We were replacing S55 engine which had 4 complete race seasons behind it with a 50,000 km second hand S55 engine. A complete refresh of this replacement engine included an undress (down to a short motor) i.e., block, head, sump and rocker cover replacing all gaskets in the process. Then re dressing all ancillaries, wiring loom and all add-on’s plus refitting the engine to the car a week before the race.
After what was supposed to be the last test day, we were worried that the gearbox in the car wasn’t performing up to the standard that we expected from the car. Another second-hand DCT box was fitted to the car on the Tuesday night prior to the race and coded to the car. We went to a final test day on the Wednesday at Sydney Motorsport Park. We were due to be at Mt Panorama on the Thursday, so this was testing on our nerves as well as the car. Wednesday night we were still finishing the car, the truck was packed and loaded so we could head down to Bathurst Thursday morning with a reasonable level of confidence.
Thursday of the 6 Hour Race
We arrived at the track and set up the garage. We did the few final finishing touches for the weekend like check brakes, fit the rear Perspex that holds the dry brake fuel system and get the control tyres on for first practice in the morning.
Practice 1
Practice 1 was wet to start and drying towards the end, the car was strong and placed in P1 for the session. Drivers were happy with the way the car performed and with the lap times produced in the wet being 2:53.3.
Thursday of the 6 Hour Race
We arrived at the track and set up the garage. We did the few final finishing touches for the weekend like check brakes, fit the rear Perspex that holds the dry brake fuel system and get the control tyres on for first practice in the morning.
Practice 2 to Qualifying
Practice 2 was where our problems started to occur. Simon went out in the car and did six laps before coming in to do a practice refuel. All went well until halfway up mountain straight when Simon went over the hump and the engine went into limp mode. Fortunately, he was able to limp back to the pits before a red flag was called and the section was ended.
In between sessions we tried to diagnose the issue from the electronic race dash data because unfortunately the car had no stored trouble codes and was running ok when it came back to the garage. We continued the ‘suck and see’ method through to practice 3 and qualifying where we had to use the stock tune just to get the car to complete a lap. We ended up qualifying 5th overall after Jayden put in a stellar lap going purple (Fastest sector overall) in sector 2 across the top of the mountain. Our qualifying time was 2:25.8 on stock tune and we were P5 for the race.
Saturday night
After fighting the issues since practice 2 and not having figured out what the issue was, we decided to do some off-track testing. Permission was sought and approved from race officials. The owner of a truck yard in Bathurst was able to help us by providing a long driveway where we managed to replicate the issue. What we found was the car was misfiring due to a defective coil pack in cylinder 5 and the reason we were unable to diagnose the issue at the track, was that every time that the car would come in the drivers would hit the battery isolator switch which would de-power the car which clears all trouble codes and resets the limp mode.
Sunday Race-day
Sunday morning consisted of changing all spark plugs and ignition coils and all other prep that needed to be done to the car before our 20 min warmup where Simon drove the session and the car ran faultlessly.
The Race
 
Having started the race in 5th with Jayden in the driver’s seat, he went from 5th to 1st in the first 2 laps. He was quick and pulled out a 10 second gap and maintained the gap till the end of his stint around 25 minutes in. At the first pitstop it was Simon’s turn for a triple stint. He remained in the top 10 for the next 2 hours 59 minutes doing an amazing job. At the 3 hour and 24-minute mark Jayden was to drive and see it through to the end, re-joining in 14th position. It took the next hour for Jayden to cut through the field with a somewhat risky but skilful and amazing pass on the grass down Conrod Straight. The urgency was to put the team back in the lead of the race.
As expected, there were the usual multiple safety car interventions and a red flag where all the cars sat in the pits for 20 minutes. For the remainder of the race, they managed the gap to the car in second keeping a 5 second lead during that time whilst managing a gearbox getting hot and some damage sustained when Jayden clipped a backmarker while attempting to lap him. In the final 5 minutes of the race the safety car was called, and it was opportune for a last lap dash to the end in which Jayden maintained the lead and came home to win the 2023 Bathurst 6 hour. Well done to the Simon Hodges’ Secure Wealth Team on their well-deserved result. And Bromspec Motor Works can be now proud to have two outright wins where they have ably assisted in this 6-hour endurance event which arguably brings back the multi-class racing format resembling the original Bathurst 500 and then 1000.
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