Scaling the mount

Sat, 16 Feb 2013 | Latest News
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Allan Dippie's Porsche 997 in action at last weekend's Bathurst 12-hour enduro. Photo: Michelle de Veth Motorsport Services

Allan Dippie has been a regular contestant at the Bathurst 12-hour enduro race. Though not as famous as the Bathurst 1000, it's arguably a tougher race, being more than 50% longer in distance for the leading teams. Here is his take on last week's race.

This year was the fourth year we have competed at the annual Bathurst 12-hour and, as usual, the race was fast, furious and dramatic.

Mount Panorama is like no other racetrack in the world. From a driver's perspective it's a daunting place that demands respect. The speed the cars reach over undulations and blind brows, along with the narrow twists and steep gradients mean that even one little mistake can be costly.

There are no real run-off areas except at the end of Conrod Straight (where we reach speeds up to 275kmh), so any miscalculation means you are very likely to hit the concrete Armco, and hit it hard.

And that's without considering hazards posed by other cars: there were more than 50 starting the race this year, driven by some of the world's best touring car drivers. The sheer number and range of performance cars on the grid was always going to mean plenty of spectacular incidents.

This, combined with record temperatures, a mid-afternoon thunderstorm and a deluge late in the race, meant only 34 cars crossed the finish line. In all, 19 crashed or suffered mechanical failure, and there were a record 16 safety-car interventions.

Teamed with co-drivers Scott O'Donnell and George McFarlane, we qualified our Porsche 997 GT3 Carrera cup car about mid-field, on 29th grid position and managed to work our way through the field to finish 14th and third in our class, thanks mainly to our pit team, which allowed us to execute a near perfect race strategy.

Using the safety car periods to conserve fuel, we were able to run the full 12 hours with just two driving stints of two hours each by each of our three drivers.

This combined with just one extra stop at the 10.5 hour mark to change from slick to full-wet tyres when the rain came down, meant a total of just seven pit stops during the race. That was a remarkable feat, and certainly something not achieved by many of the teams.

We have a very reliable car in the Mobile 1 997 Porsche and are never in doubt of its ability to finish the race. Even though we lost the clutch in the last hour this year, the full sequential box means we can still upshift with the accelerator flat down and without dipping the clutch. For downshifts we normally use the clutch, but can change gears without it.

When the chequered flag came out we had completed 244 laps, just over 1500km.