MONDAY 7 FEBRUARY 2011
SIXTH PLACE IN BATHURST 12 HOUR ACHIEVED THROUGH STRATEGY
With the full might of Audi Europe, operated by Joest, announcing that they would contest the 2011 Bathurst 12 Hour, most competitors were upbeat.

The arrival of two Works R8 LMS GT3 machines in this part of the world was something Australia had not seen since 2003, when the Bathurst 24 Hour was last run.

Six months prior, Allan had been back in Australia for a sportcar festival event at Sydney's Eastern Creek, alongside Ted Huglin in his brand new Lamborghini Gallardo LP560. Ted was keen to do the Bathurst 12 Hour and it took little time convincing Allan that he should be part of his Mountain assault team alongside Luke Searle.

It all looked good on paper, but the new Lambo took a nasty shunt with Ted onboard during Saturday afternoon and Allan found himself winging his way back to Europe a day early. Things were looking a bit uneasy getting the car back together in time.

And then there were the unusual driver pairing requirements – some of which were completely against the seeding process, with two current V8 Supercar drivers in the same car. And that was just the tip of the iceberg!

Up until 2011, The Bathurst 12 Hour was the domain of production based cars, with the likes of Mitsubishi EVO's, BMW 335i and Subaru WRX Sti being the weapon of choice. Suddenly the entire landscape would change as the organisers announced that this years event would be open to sportscars that conformed to FIA GT3 specifications.

And so there was plenty of unhappy campers in proddy land about when this was announced. The production car drivers felt they'd worked hard over the last few years to build this event up into the ultimate 'Showroom Showdown' and now they were being asked to take a back seat letting the more exotic and expensive sportscars snatch the limelight.

For Allan, this was great news and with Audi fronting the two R8 LMS GT3, it almost smelt like the 24 hour event may return...


With only a few weeks before the event, Ted pulled the Lambo out, for unknown reasons. That left Allan in a mess – he'd already declined two other drives and his headspace was firmly focused on getting around that damn mountain as quick as possible. So too was Luke Searle. How could a deal be put together and where would one find a competitive car at such a late state?

Two years prior, Allan's regular British GT co-driver, Hector Lester, flew their 2007 BGT Ferrari out for Clipsal 500 Adelaide and the Melbourne F1 GP support races. The car stayed in the country, looking for a buyer. But it had not found a home. Perhaps that was an option?

Sure enough, Hector agreed that he must drive The Mountain once in his life and the Ferrari 430 (a Kessel built example) was sent to Melbourne Ferrari tuner Phil Hughes for preparation.


Everything came together nicely and the trio took the relatively aging Ferrari onto the track for the first practice session.

Practice was limited so it was vital for Hector to learn the track and for Luke to drive a Ferrari for the very first time. Luckily the setup was pretty right straight out of the transporter however the car was a full 20kph down of the Audi's and lastest Porsches on Conrod Straight.

The result was P5 and P8 in the two sessions.

Qualifying would take a new twist – all three drivers had to set a time with the aggregate determining the grid position.

Allan was out first and set fastest of the rest, just behind the two Audi's.

Luke was next in, but had a tough time with traffic and ended up having a small spin at The Dipper, luckily only grazing the wall slightly – not usually a place you get away scott free.

Hector was less fortunate, hitting the wall much harder, only 200 metres prior. It caused too much damage to continue, but most importantly, the minimum qualifying requirements had been achieved, giving them P9 on the grid.

Phil Hughes' team worked through the evening to repair the car and was presented on the grid in time for Allan to take up starting duties.

He made good progress from the rolling start up to 3rd place by the end of his almost 3 hour morning run. Luke was next in and did a very good job in tricky damp conditions despite having almost zero Ferrari experience and a faulty cool suit which was rapidly trying to boil him!

Hector was due in the car next stint, but the conditions were really changeable, so Allan took it instead, only to be confronted by a misfire.

John Buchan, their regular BGT engineer had come along for the event so it took him no time at all to trace the fault. Then Hector was in and Luke the final stint to the flag.


Coming home in 6th place was great effort considering the pace of the Audi's and more modern Porsches. As the sun set over Bathurst almost everyone was pleased that the Audi's took a well deserved 1-2 across the line. This would certainly send some signals back to Europe that it was possible to come to Australia and win such an event around one of the most daunting circuits in the world. Perhaps the 24 Hour race will return soon? We can only hope!