GWR Australia drivers Michael Auld, Richard Bloomfield and Brian Walden will this weekend line up for their fourth Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour together… and this year, they’ve swapped their trusty Aussie V8 for a sophisticated example of Germany’s finest engineering.
Auld, Bloomfield and Walden have contested every 6 Hour production car race to be held so far, driving a Holden VE Commodore SS in Class B2 (High Performance Naturally Aspirated). They have achieved two class wins, and a best result of 13th outright in 2016.
This year though, the trio will slot into a Mercedes A45 AMG – the car campaigned for the last three years by Brian’s son Garth Walden, along with Craig Baird. And as Garth explained, the car is rich in not only performance, but also sentimental value.
“The car was owned by Ron Searle, who was a big supporter of our team and backed our on-track efforts,” he said.
“When he passed away last year, we took the opportunity to purchase the car, and we’re looking forward to running it in Ron’s honour.”
Walden and Auld both completed a test day in the car at Wakefield Park yesterday. According to Garth, one of the priorities was for the drivers to familiarise themselves with the car’s sophisticated electronic systems.
“The Mercedes has a lot more high-tech systems than the Commodore, and there are lots of procedures and processes you have to go through before you hit the track – things like deactivating the traction and stability control, clearing various codes and ensuring the gearbox is in the right mode,” he said.
“Also, neither Dad nor Michael had driven an all-wheel-drive car before, so they were both working on driving technique. They adapted very well, their times were closely-matched and very consistent.
“Being a Class A1 (Extreme Performance Forced Induction) car, the Mercedes is obviously a lot faster than the Commodore, but it’s also easier to driver and will bring the drivers closer together. I think they’ll have a blast.”
Practice for the Bathurst 6 Hour commences on Friday, with qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday.
Bathurst 6 Hour schedule
Friday, 19 April
8:20 – Practice 1 (70 min)
13:35 – Practice 2 (70 min)
Saturday, 20 April
8:20 – Practice 3 (70 min)
14:35 – Slower 50% qualifying (30 min)
15:10 – Faster 50% qualifying (30 min)
Sunday, 21 April
11:30 – Bathurst 6 Hour (6 hours)