SLEEPING GIANT READY FOR CLASS X DEBUT
Tony D’Alberto is hoping Duane West’s #90 Kelair VF GTS Holden Commodore which he will share with West at the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour will be a ‘sleeping giant’ amidst the BMW-heavy X Class.
Both D’Alberto and West will be making their Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour debuts this Easter, following a life long friendship that began in go karts.
“We used to go karting together as kids. We didn’t so much race against each other as Duane is a couple of years older than me – and I like to remind him of that as much as I can – but we travelled around and our families are quite close,” D’Alberto said.
“(Racing together at the 6 Hour) has been on the cards for a little while but with COVID and things going on it hadn’t happened, so we are pretty excited to finally have got it all together for this year and I think all the work the Wests have done in the background will have us in pretty good stead come Sunday at the Bathurst 6 Hour.”
The Commodore has been ear marked for its Bathurst debut since it was first developed three years ago.
“We have been through a bit of a development process, building the car around three years ago and then obviously we got caught up in the COVID crisis that has been going on. As a Melbourne based team we have been stuck down here for a fair while,” West said.
“It has become a bucket list item for us to race this car at Bathurst, but we just haven’t had the opportunity to do it before now.
“As anyone going to Bathurst for the first time would be I am really excited and a little nervous about driving around this amazing track. It has definitely been a dream of mine since I was a child. My Dad also raced here back in 1973 and 1974 so having him prepare the car and being at the track with me over Easter will be special for the both of us.
“Also having a long-time friend in Tony D by my side will definitely help with getting me up to speed as quickly as possible. Working with him alone will be a great experience and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot over the weekend with his tips.”
When it comes to how the entry will measure up against the BMWs in Class X, neither West nor D’Alberto are ready to make any big predictions.
“We will be running for outright contention against the BMWs in class X but I am not really 100 percent sure at the moment how it will fare against the BMWs, but fingers crossed it should do pretty well,” West said.
“Hopefully with Tony’s experience we might be able to get a bit more speed out of the car and be quite competitive in our class,” West added, while thanking corporate and private luxury charter airline Kelair for their support as the team’s main sponsor for the event.
Having little experience with the car, D’Alberto had the opportunity to conduct some test laps at Winton Motor Raceway recently ahead.
“The test day went well; we didn’t do a lot of laps as it was more for me to get familiar with the car. Duane has built the car from the ground up with his dad, so he knows it a lot better than I do, so we just wanted to make sure I was comfortable,” D’Alberto explained.
“I think the characteristics of the HSV will suit somewhere like Bathurst more than Winton, so that is what we are focusing on.
“We will have our work cut out for us, there is no doubt (in going up against the BMWs), but looking at Duane’s results in national rounds and some of the lap times he has achieved at Phillip Island and other places, I think the car will be quite competitive.
“It is obviously a new thing for the team to embark on competing in such a big event, but he has a lot of good guys in the team and a lot of experience, and Duane himself has done a lot of racing and his family has a lot of rich motorsport history.
“We aren’t going there thinking we will set the world on fire, but we could be sleeping giants hopefully!”
While this will be the first Bathurst 6 Hour for both drivers, D’Alberto of course heads to the track with plenty of racing experience at the legendary track and will also be pulling double duty at the event.
“I will be racing TCR over the weekend as well, so I will get plenty of track time. The plan is to have Duane, as he hasn’t been to Bathurst before, have a lot of track time in the production car while I focus on the TCR stuff and then come Sunday we will go in all guns blazing. Westy will do a lot of laps and the qualifying, so come Sunday he will be really familiar with the circuit,” D’Alberto said.
“While obviously I have done a lot of Bathurst 12 Hours and quite a few 1000s, this is my first 6 Hour. It is just one of those events I haven’t been able to do yet and it looks like a lot of fun, like a great event to be a part of.
“I like how it is not full of pro teams, you have mum and dad teams and I just love the family feel it has about it. It is one of those events I have wanted to do for a long time and now we will get to tick that box. It also means that this year I will do the 6 Hour, the 12 Hour and the Bathurst 1000, so it will be a big year of Bathurst races.
“I am looking forward to it, it should be really good.”
Event tickets are available online via the official event website by clicking here.
The event will be broadcast live, ad-break free and on demand on Stan Sports on April 16-17.