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How To Master Mount Panorama

Alvaro Parente talks DSC through a perfect tour Bathurst's iconic circuit

One of the highlights of the Bathurst 12 Hour each, is undoubtedly the Top 10 Shootout, pitting man and GT3 machine against Mount Panorama, without slower traffic to deal with, to see who can produce the fastest time and nab pole for the big race.

In order to get a little bit more of just how challenging the circuit is ahead of the 2018 shootout, as well as some pointers on what drivers are looking for and experiencing behind the wheel, DSC spoke to Strakka Racing’s rapid Portuguese driver Alvaro Parente, and asked him to talk us through a lap of the circuit.

That way, those of us who are highly unlikely to take a race car up the mountain, can get a flavour of how to master a lap of Mount Panorama.

Take it away Alvaro:

“The reference point for Hell corner, Turn 1, is the 100-metre marker, and in the GT3 car you brake just after that, and focus on the exit, unless you have pressure from behind or are going for an overtake.

The Cutting is where a lot of people get too optimistic and things don’t go too well

“You need to get a good exit here, it’s crucial, because you can lose all your momentum into the up-hill right at Griffin’s.

“It’s a long run to Turn 2. In a road car you don’t notice the incline as much as you’d think, but it’s still hard. You have to focus on the braking and go through the corner smoothly, it’s a long corner and you don’t want to stop the car too much. You need to use the room on the exit kerb, and avoid the car bogging down too much.

“The Cutting is where a lot of people get too optimistic and things don’t go too well. It’s a blind, up hill double apex, left, and really difficult when you’re stuck behind someone. If you don’t get past the car you’re following, often you’ll have to wait until Skyline to get by.

“You need to get off the throttle, roll the speed in, and prepare to go up hill.

“Then all of a sudden we’re at the most physical part of the circuit, Sulman Park is a sweeping left, you want to get close to the walls on the outside. It’s a really special part, because they’re blind, you can’t see the turn in, you use all the road and on a really good lap you’re minimum speed is 200km/h there.

“The car is on the limit, either understeering or oversteering there.

“Brock’s Skyline is next. You get a short break, while going in a straight line, but you can’t take in the view. You dive down into the Esses, you can’t see the turn in, or the middle of the track. You use the wall as a reference. It’s a nice section.

“The car is never settled there, the car always tries to escape, as you’re braking and turning.

“At the Dipper, which comes immediately after, you have two ways to do it, you either take the early apex and jump the left hand of the corner, or you run wide and get a better exit. It’s not my favourite part, but it’s important and you can win or lose a lot of time there.

“Exiting the Dipper, down the hill a bit more, and you’re at Forest Elbow, you need to prepare the exit well because you’ve got Conrod Straight to deal with and you don’t want a bad run there.

“Down the Conrod Straight do you 280 km/h by the time you hit the brakes into The Chase. Every driver wants to maximise their top-end speed there, but ultimately you want to make sure that your car is more comfortable for the corners rather than faster on the straights,

“Into the final part of the circuit, you’re full throttle at The Chase, you feel the G Force on your neck, but it’s not a quarter of what you feel at Sulman Park.

Down the Conrod straight do you 280 km/h by the time you hit the brakes into The Chase

“And finally, you’re at the end of the lap after The Chase, you can’t brake too late into Murray’s left-hander, it’s not too tricky, but if you lose concentration it can cost you.

“And that’s Bathurst, it’s a wonderful track. When you’re in a rhythm, there’s no other circuit like it in motorsport. That’s why we love it so much, and keep coming back.”

The 2018 Bathurst 12 Hour Top 10 Shootout gets underway today at 16:15 local time.