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Bathurst 1000 Km – Getting There, Finding Our Feet
British Airways managed to make 19 hours in Economy from London to Sydney as bearable as possible: much friendlier staff than on the Florida / Atlanta routes, and an interesting journey thanks to the presence of Andrew Donaldson and Nathan Kinch.

Nathan Kinch? “I’m heading to Brisbane to visit a friend for six weeks.” These drivers, what a tough life. We passed on the Bathurst entry to the Scottish Lister driver, and just teased him with the prospect of a 24 hour drive this weekend. He was interested in latest JC-W news, but as of this moment we’re not on-line, so we don’t know how the Sebring Corvette test is going / went.

Andrew Donaldson is partnering father Ian, Liz Halliday and Peter Floyd in the #8 Floyd / Cirtek / Kawasaki Porsche GT3-RS. Andrew has had a fairly quiet 2003, but 2002 didn’t end too badly: fourth overall in the Bathurst 24 Hours in an M3. Can he do better this time? “Instead of 360 bhp from a BMW six cylinder, we’ve got another 100 bhp in the Porsche – and hopefully the same kind of reliability.”

Andrew couldn’t wait to get going round The Mountain again: perhaps we should have introduced him to Nathan Kinch.

It was clear skies all the way from Darwin, via Alice Springs to . …almost Sydney, but a bank of cloud was nestling over the NSW capital. “It’s heading south,” said the taxi driver – as he took us to pick up our new home for a fortnight.

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Not the largest camper in the state, but we’re having fun driving it, and living in it. Thanks Darrell, Shorty and Mark – the latter for having just one left by the time we committed to come here. Mark is also a racer – and coincidentally has an MGB GT, which is currently undergoing a weight-loss exercise before taking to the tracks.

The clouds passed south, as instructed, so that by the time we were two-thirds of the way to Bathurst, it was a marvellous summer’s day. We passed Eastern Creek Raceway on the outskirts of Sydney, and hope to pop in for some V8 Supercars before departing for the UK at the end of the month.

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The Blue Mountains are modest but magnificent (although severely charred by recent forest fires), but we don’t expect to find many empty hotel rooms in the area this week.

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dailysportscar.comA steady, gentle climb through Katoomba and Lithgow took us to the gently rolling pastures east of Bathurst .

These blue / mauve flowers provide a wonderful carpet over many of the fields here – which look predominantly mauve from afar (and we don’t even know what they’re called yet). Seen four kangaroos – all dead, alas, after contact with Australian vehicles.

Too wrecked to do much during the afternoon (after the flight), but a trip into the town during the evening revealed these two safety cars, all set up ready to ….be safety cars. No reflective Monaro stickers, but they’re handsome beasts all the same. You could almost take the safety equipment out and race them. Andrew Donaldson is expecting the two Garry Rodgers race cars to be slightly less powerful than last year’s winner, but just as quick and even more reliable.

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The event poster – in shop windows everywhere – even features the rugged Martin Short, and last year’s Mosler (plus other contenders of course). What happened to Dilanthe Malagamuwa? We haven’t heard of the smiling Sri Lankan racing this year: perhaps he’ll turn up on the entry list by Friday?

Every single Australian so far has been extremely friendly and helpful (except to the wildlife): wonder if they will be on Saturday evening? “The teams are very evenly matched,” reckoned our taxi driver. This is going to be a great week’s build up to a great weekend’s sport – and a (well deserved?) week off for us next week. Thanks Stuart and Steve.

First job on Wednesday should be a lap of the track – in the roly poly Toyota house-on-wheels. We won’t be setting any records – but we won’t be getting any speeding tickets either.

 

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