TUESDAY 11 OCTOBER 2011
SIMONSEN CLAIMS HIS FIRST V8 SUPERCAR PODIUM AT BATHURST
With the Le Mans Series racing complete for 2011, Allan could now focus on the biggest race in Australia – The Supercheap Auto 1000 at Bathurst and one of the most important a drivers career.

Bathurst, or rather Mount Panorama, since the former is just the town that hosts the event, is like the World Cup of soccer, in Australia. Win here puts a driver into the history books.

And that is just what happened that second weekend in October that had been punctuated with the oddest weather and circumstance in the lead up.
It would turn out to be almost a perfect weekend with a brilliant pole position to bring the car home with Greg Murphy in a magnificent third place.

Let us recap some of the strange events during the days before the race.

Murph leads from pole into the first corner of the 161 lap race.

Thursday morning was ugly.

The Mountain was shrouded in cloud and it had been raining quite substantially since early hours of the day. It was not a pleasant feeling for a driver to have to set foot for the first time, each year, on the treacherous circuit.

Despite what the television shows, Mount Panorama circuit is narrow and steep. Real steep and there is virtually no run off area, save going straight on down escape roads at Hell and Murrays, or gravel traps at McPhillamy, The Esses and of course the ultra fast Chase. There is just zero room for error and a mistake at The Chase can end up a big drama should the car dig into the gravel. And its worse if its wet.

Three practice sessions were set for Thursday.

Clearly wet tyres would be needed by all concerned and with a total of six practice sessions in all, before qualifying and the weather report looking ordinary lots of wets would be required.

So too did the Fujitsu V8 support category. By my count that meant 240 tyres would be needed for the 60 cars across Main Game and FV8 at any one time. So a quick calculation showed Dunlop would need about 3000 tyres just to get through the P & Q sessions.

But they only had brought 600 tyres and no one yet knew that!

Greg Murphy was out in P1, putting in a 2.26.24 which was good enough for P8 although he was just getting a handle on set up.

The weather was getting much worse as Allan went out for his session. 2.29.98. P11 in car #11.

As the third session was about to get underway the tyre drama started to unfold...


Out of Hell Corner, a huge crownd behind


Slick pitwork helped

Of the 600 tyres Dunlop has in stock, some were labelled 'ZD' and others 'PV'.

Prior to the start of MainGame P3 and Fujitsu P2, Dunlop started handing out tyres labelled 'PV'. No one knew whether the new batch was better, worse or indifferent. The situation clouded further when after a single lap MG-P3 was cancelled and FV8-P2 a moment later due to bad visibility. No one had yet tested a PV.

Dinner time, Thursday.

The tyre situation had now become a huge mess. All teams had been instructed to return ALL wets in their possession to the paddock to be recounted and redistributed evenly. That caused a slight hiccup in the Friday schedule, but to be fair to Dunlop and V8SA, was well handled once the problem fully understood.

Friday. Practice 4. Dry Track. Allan was into the 2.12's as people got down to serious business as the track started to rubber up.

Then it was down to 2.08's in the final practice session of Friday.

Saturday morning. Things were looking good as Allan topped the time sheets in the final practice session. It was huge morale boost for the Kelly Racing run team, who were managing a mammoth engineering and logistics exercise running both Jack Daniels cars, the Stratco entry and the Shannons/Mars racer.

Clearly Murph would be quick in qualifying.

And he was, coming in 4th, assuring a run in the top ten shoot-out.

Murph is a pro at Bathurst qualifying. Will Davidson has set the pace up first and the others seemed to struggle to match his pace.

It was now time for Greg to work his magic and he certainly did, grabbing the fastest time, just as the weather closed in.

That effectively trapped Jamie Whincup, Garth Tander and Mark Winterbottom at the bottom of the timesheets, handing Allan and Greg pole position for Australia's biggest race.

Tander argued the session should be stopped. Whincup lamented the weather calling the session a joke. But it was the same for all and had it been someone other than Murph who snatched the pole in such an cruel way it may have been argued differently. But no, Murph was a worthy pole sitter who has held the lap record here for many years only to have it recently eclipsed by Craig Lowndes. Yep, Murph always goes good at Bathurst.


Press Conference - New Zealand and Danish jokes!


Through The Dipper

Sunday warmup was a straigh forward affair, making sure all systems were go for the race.

And so it was, with Greg leading the race for the first 6 laps before allowing others to pass. It would be a race of fuel and tyre strategy and one that played out well taking Allan and Greg onto the Bathurst podium – one that went down very well with the crowd.


Only once before has an international driver stepped onto the Bathurst podium since V8 Supercars came about.