Australian Six Hour
Eastern Creek Raceway, July 17-18 2010




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On the 27th of August 1995, Dick Johnson and John Bowe won the last production car endurance race held at Sydney’s Eastern Creek Raceway. The battle was truly a two marque race, with the Johnson and Bowe Mazda RX7 edging out Peter Fitzgerald and Jim Richards aboard a Porsche 911 RSCS. The Eastern Creek 12 Hour was born as a replacement for the Bathurst 12 Hour, but as production car racing splintered in different directions, the race was put on hold.

Fast forward to 2007, and the Bathurst 12 Hour was back, and with a united production car front, the event and the category has grown exponentially every year since. Seeing endurance racing as the way of the future, the Shannons Nationals management have joined forces with the Production Car Association of Australia (PCAA) to create the Australian Six Hour, which will take place on July 17-18, an event which is certain to be more than a two-horse race.

The format will be similar to those successfully employed at the Bathurst 12 Hour, with qualifying on Saturday, before six hours of competition on Sunday. Up to three drivers will be permitted per team, otherwise the cars will run to the standard Australian Manufacturers Championship regulations.

In preparation for the move to endurance racing, the regular season events at Symmons Plains, Morgan Park Raceway and Sandown Park will all run to an identical format, with twin-hour long races, thus negating the need for refuelling during the races. The format is the same as that used at Phillip Island, Symmons Plains and at Sandown during the 2008 season, with positive feedback from competitors seeing that format return on a permanent basis.

“The Australian Six Hour is shaping up to be another exceptional event, with many production car owners genuinely excited that they get another chance to have a long distance race where they can get some really good track time in their cars,” said Cameron Wilson, the acting president of the PCAA.

“All of the cars that run at the Bathurst 12 Hour are set up for endurance racing with dry break fuel systems, so there won’t be a massive expense in getting cars set up for the meeting. Other cost savings come with a shorter racing program over the weekend, coupled with the fact that it much cheaper to run at a permanent circuit rather than the six kilometre long Bathurst track. So with a few cars coming out of the woodwork, the current discussions we are having with competitors point a grid of somewhere between 35-45 cars.

“Eastern Creek is a great place to have an endurance race, let’s face it, the circuit was originally made for the Grand Prix Motorcycle races, and it’s a great driver’s circuit and very free flowing. The pit lane facilities are great, there’s plenty of space there for driver changes.”

Recent changes to the 12 Hour regulations for 2011 opening the race up to include GT specification sports cars has had an inadvertent flow on effect to the Six Hour, with many production car teams seeing the Eastern Creek event as their new jewel in the crown for their racing season.

“Obviously it’s going to be interesting to see what direction endurance racing takes into the future,” Wilson said.

“A lot of the production car teams are based in Sydney, so the local rounds there typically have a strong turn out. Another factor is that the meeting isn’t clashing with any V8 Supercar rounds, so there’s a strong chance that a few big name drivers will be available to compete. The buzz in the category at the moment is very positive, and we are really looking forward to the event.”


Production Car Racing + The Shannons Nationals

The Australian Six Hour will constitute the sixth round of the Shannons Nationals Motor Racing, marking a new marquee event on the Australian motorsport calendar.

Shannons Nationals series director Rob Curkpatrick is looking forward to the championships heading back to Sydney with a new major event.

“Under the Shannons Nationals banner, various rounds throughout the year are hallmark events for the different categories, for instance the F3 Superprix at Symmons Plains and the Clem Smith Cup at Mallala for the Sports Sedans, so it is a natural fit for the Australian Six Hour to be a part of the Shannons Nationals Motor Racing Championships,” Curkpatrick said. “There is currently a push by participants to be involved in long distance racing, and we fully support the Australian Manufacturers Championship to expand with the Six Hour.

“Obviously the growth of the Bathurst 12 Hours over recent years has been very encouraging for the category, and we envisage that the two events will work hand in hand to ensure a strong future for production car racing for many years to come.

“Eastern Creek is an ideal venue for an endurance race, with many of the Championship teams calling the venue home, so I’m sure we will see an exciting and diverse field come July 18.”

The meeting will also feature the Australian Saloon Car Series, HQ Holdens, and the return of the Mazda MX5 challenge to the Shannons Nationals after a successful initial outing at Wakefield Park in March.
     
 
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