Group S At The 2018 Bathurst 12 Hour

The Bathurst 12 Hour as an event continues to grow in both size and stature. After moving away from a production car based race, in a contentious decision at the time, to a GT based program, the success of that decision has been validated. However, man does not live on GT alone so there were a number of support categories including the Group S cars. Under the current regulations, Group S covers a period from the 1940s through to the end of the 1970s.

Groups S itself is an umbrella that covers three sub-categories; Group Sa, Sb, and Sc. Sa is for the more elderly cars, starting from early 1941 through to the end of December 1960. It’s this category that appeals to the drivers of British cars such as the MG-A, Sunbeam Alpine, or the “Bugeye” Sprite.

Sb cars cover a slightly more compressed timeframe, being January 1961 through to December 31 1969. There’s a vast appeal here to many marques, so Corvette Stingrays, Alfa Romeo GTVs, Porsche 911s, Shelby Cobras, and more will feature.

Group Sc rounds off with an inclusion of cars from January 1970 through to December 1977 (although we’ll see cars from 1979 racing) and Porsche stars here with the ever green 911. There’s the occasional De Tomaso Pantera, Datsun 260Z, and Triumph TR6.

Naturally, being historic car racing, there’s categories within categories, with engine capacity classes being applied. Group Sa has: Saa, Sab, and Sac, covering up to 1300cc, between 1300cc and 1800cc, and over 1800cc

Sb covers a larger range. Sba and Sbb are the same as Group Sa, with Sbc ranging from 1800cc to 3000cc, whilst Sbd is from 3001cc.

Sca is slightly different, covering up to 2000cc, then Scb just 2001cc to 2600cc, then Scc 2601cc to 3500cc before finalizing with Scd from 3501cc and up.

2018 has a pretty full calendar for these venerable machines with fourteen race weekends; March 2018 has the annual Philip Island Classic whilst mid April has the inaugural Shannon’s Nationals at the new South Australia Tailem Bend circuit. There’ll be visits to Morgan Park in Queensland, Winton in northern Victoria, and December sees the final round for the year at Sydney Motorsport Park for the fabulous Tasman Revival meeting.

The Group S cars are a production based category and the cars themselves do not have to have a specific racing history, unlike the Groups A and C cars which MUST be the original racing car. The website says: “Group S cars are not historic racing cars; they are historic production sports cars, modified within the limits of Group S eligibility criteria.” 

Group S ran three races at Mt Panorama during the B12 event. Race 1 was Friday February 2 and was shortened to five from the scheduled seven laps. It was a fifty five car field that featured vehicles from all three sub categories with twelve different marques and it was a fifty one car field that finished the five laps.

Ian Ross in his 1966 Shelby GT350 managed to beach his classic machine at the Chase in lap one which resulted in a safety car being called out for three laps. Of the fifty one that finished race 1, sixteen were Porsche 911 and one of those, piloted by Geoff Morgan in the Sc class, took the chequered flag. In fact, the first three cars were Scc followed by two Scd. The quickest Sa car was in the Sac category, Zack McAfee in his tidy 1956 Austin Healey.

Unfortunately for Morgan race 2 was a fizzer on the final lap as his car’s distributor failed. This handed the win to fellow 911 pilot and Morgan’s good friend, Wayne Seabrook. There was a measure of carnage at the rear of field on the first lap with Colin Goldsmith’s immaculate 1959 Austin Healy being punted by a spinning Steve Constantinidis is his 1972 Corvette.

Race three was curtailed to five laps in a time critical finish. Seabrook again took the chequered flag. Doug Barbour in his 911 finished with a flourish by spinning on the final lap and managing to still snare fourth.

A sidebar here is just how quick and nimble some of the smaller engine cars were. Race three had Damien Meyer in a 1275cc MG Midget from 1970 finish in thirteenth position, ahead of cars such as a DeTomaso Pantera with its 351 Ford engine and a 928 Porsche with a 4.5L block. That was a great follow up to his 17th in race 1

Did you catch the classic car action at the Bathurst 12 hour? What did you think? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

John Bowe‘s Flying B at Bathurst 12 Hour

4. March 2015 11:15 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , ,   //   Comments (0)

Aussie motor racing legend and Rare Spares ambassador John Bowe certainly raced in style at this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour, taking to Australia’s most iconic circuit as part of the Flying B Racing team in a Bentley Continental GT.

With over thirty year’s experience at Mount Panorama and five wins spanning the Bathurst 1000 and Bathurst 12hr alike, Bowe was looking forward to utilising his experience and race the classic Marque at Bathurst in 2015.

The lead up to the 2015 event was challenging for Flying B Racing, and in testing the drivers found a severe vibration coming through the steering from the front end.

After swapping out nearly every part in the steering system, it took the arrival of some Bentley factory team members arriving from England with a complete new front end that the problem was solved and the drivers could concentrate on car setup.

Bowe was partnered with Aussie racing legend David Brabham and vehicle owner Peter Edwards for the race and after some tweaks during practice, managed a respectable 15th in qualifying.

The Ferrari 458 of sister team Maranello Motorsport had not fared so well, ending with a huge crash in practice with Tony D’alberto behind the wheel, rendering the car unrepairable for the race.

The race began before dawn and under the headlights the full field provided an incredible spectacle as they raced up and down the mountain, as campers cooked breakfast from camping locations and headed for the stands.

The Flying B Racing Bentley in race trim proved to be a solid machine and the team were on track for a solid result until an Aston Martin punted David Brabham into the wall, resulting in a DNF for the team.

“It was a fantastic event, as it has been for a few years. But the disappointment is really acute when stuff goes wrong at Bathurst. Other than my stupid rookie mistake on my first out lap the whole Flying B Racing team performed faultlessly. Great strategy and pit stops and a real joy to work with. They deserved better” said John Bowe.

"Anyway, congratulations to the Nissan team, to Liqui-Moly Australia for helping to create an amazing event, and the promoter James O'Brien who has masterminded the race onto a global scale”  

Bathurst vs Bathurst: A Tale of Two Events with John Bowe

25. November 2014 12:56 by Rare Spares in   //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

Aussie motor racing legend and Rare Spares ambassador John Bowe is certainly well versed in two special Australian motor races, The Bathurst 1000 and the Bathurst 12 Hour.

Bowe has spent 30 years venturing to Mount Panorama, completing more laps around the circuit than most and winning ‘The Great Race’ twice and the Bathurst 12 Hour on three occasions.

John recalls his first time racing at the Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama in 1985, which was a Volvo 240T from New Zealand he drove with Robbie Francevic.  

“My first event was a culture shock. It was only my second race in Touring Cars so the whole event and the track itself were overwhelming. It was the beginning of a learning process of both racing in the top Australian tier and driving the mountain itself.”

 “The Bathurst 1000 is steeped in Australian tradition and has been a cultural event since its inception decades ago. It has featured our Aussie hero cars and many hero drivers on display in front of the masses in the crowds and on TV for a long time.”

The Bathurst 12 hour was originally created for series production cars to showcase their abilities in racing to the general public who were able to purchase something nearly identical from the showroom floor, which includes the GT spec cars that are available to buy in race format.   

The event ran for a few years in the early 1990’s however was discontinued until 2007 when it was revived. It was in 2011 that the event introduced GT cars, adding a more professional level of competition and opening up the event to international teams that had GT spec machinery.  

“Being a GT race now, the event has gone to another level. The event is much more visible on an international stage and builds higher credibility each year.”

“The Bathurst 12 hour is similar in many ways to the older days of the Bathurst 1000. It has a wide variety of marques competing and large speed differences between some of the cars, which certainly creates an interesting and very different dynamic to the modern Bathurst 1000.”

  “These days the Bathurst 1000 is just a long sprint event and is very tactical, with cars now finishing the race only seconds apart, whereas in the earlier years of the event, it was minutes, so the racing is incredibly close, no doubt about it. This year proved that.” 

The Bathurst 1000 is still the centrepiece of the motor sport calendar in Australia but that doesn’t mean both events can’t co-exist nicely as two separate style events.

“The Bathurst 1000 is a flamboyant event, with more pomp and ceremony attached to it, similar to NASCAR. The crowds are huge every year.”

With the Bathurst 12 Hour gaining momentum, a stable naming rights sponsor and a healthy field with increasing numbers of international teams heading across the world for the event, some believe the B12H is a threat to the Bathurst 1000. However Bowe doesn’t see it that way.

 “I don’t think the 12 Hour is a threat to the 1000 as I don’t think the events cross pollinate at all. The status of the Bathurst 12 Hour will continue to grow though and I’m sure in next few years it will become one of the major race events on the world motorsport calendar.”

In terms of driving the two events, both are physically and mentally challenging and take an immense amount of concentration over a long period. The Bathurst 1000 consists of the main driver, with a co-driver allocated to share driving duties. The B12H regulations allow up to 4 drivers per car, with a mix of professional and amateur drives being the requirement.

“We are attracting huge names now in the Bathurst 12 hour. This year, I teamed up with ex Formula One driver Mika Salo as part of the Maranello Motorsport team and there is many high level drivers from around the world now taking part in the event”.  

“I haven’t talked to a single international driver who has raced at Bathurst for the first time and not been in awe at what an amazing track it is.”

Controversy erupted between the two events recently, with a date clash between the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour and the V8 Supercar season launch/test day, ruling out a number of V8 Supercar drivers who were planning to compete.

 “It’s wrong that it clashed. I understand why, but all of the relevant parties, and there are a few, should have all come together and had more concern for the interest of Australian motorsport in general. I hope in 2016 we won’t see a repeat of the clash.”

Irrespective of whether it is the Bathurst 12 Hour or the Bathurst 1000, Mount Panorama is a  special place, steeped in history with countless tales of sheer heartbreak, mixed with moments of elation with success.

The future of both events remain bright and having two fantastic events at Mount Panorama is a win for all motorsport enthusiasts not only in Australia, but around the world.