Marcos Ambrose carries his Australian V8 Supercar points lead to the biggest race on the national motorsport calendar this weekend as he tackles the Mount Panorama circuit in the Bob Jane T-Marts 1000 at Bathurst.

Ambrose, who enjoyed a long run of round wins earlier in the season, is seeking to get back to winning ways this weekend, when he will again team up with Stone Brothers Racing colleague Russell Ingall to tackle, not only a host of other determined crews, but also what he reckons is one of the most demanding venues in the world.

"As you cross the start-finish line at Bathurst, you take a deep breath and get ready for the next corner," he said, launching into a lap of the circuit, "You have to calm yourself down for the first corner - Hell Corner - because it is probably the easiest turn on the circuit. It is down to second gear for the corner and it is important to get a nice clean exit as the car drifts out wide.

"It's then up Big Pond Mountain Straight, which is one of the most important sections of the track when it comes to horsepower. You hit the rev-limiter in fifth gear just the other side of the rise, which is about three-quarters of the way up the straight. The braking zone is uphill, so it allows you to get on the pegs a touch later for the right hander into Konica Bend which is my favourite corner of the track. The corner is quite quick and is taken at the top of third gear, its is very enjoyable if the car is working right - if you can get a good run out of here you can make up half a second.

"You then charge up to Ford Cutting, which involves a lot of concrete, cliff face and a big blind corner. The marshal here is your best friend all weekend because you simply don't know what to expect around the corner. This is a section of the track you really need to creep up on over the weekend.

"The exit of the Cutting is the start of a section of track which I really class as one single stretch of lefts and rights, where you need to use all the track if you can.

"You then get to McPhillamy which is a great corner with a big crest on it. There is plenty of room on the outside if you go in too hot, but it can get quite exciting if you miss the entry to Skyline. You really have to commit here and your car has to be right, if you are thinking too much here then you are going to be in all sorts of trouble - it needs to come naturally.

"A nice exit will get you across Skyline cleanly and into what I call the 'downhill' section of the track. This is as much about staying off the brake as it is about staying on the accelerator. If you go in too hot, you could crash two or three corners later because you just can't keep up with the car.

"You then get to the VB Dipper which is a good bit of fun. It is not as dramatic as it looks on TV with a couple of wheels off the ground - it is actually a pretty smooth part of the track. You are basically going as hard as you can from the Dipper through to Forrest Elbow. This corner can suck you in and so many guys carry too much speed into here and get caught out.

"I am very cautious on the exit, because I have seen the video footage of Dick Johnson's crash through the trees here too many times. There is a concrete wall there now, but you still get a little tingle when you think about Dick's crash there in the old Green Falcon.

"It is important to be slow into Forrest Elbow and fast out, so you can get on the power as quickly as possible down Conrod Straight. You hit top gear and about 300kph just as you start to drift the car to the left of the track for the chute into Caltex Chase. This is the fastest part of any race track in the country and can be a bit scary.

"Once you are into the Chase, you are virtually pushing the brake pedal through the floor. You creep off the brakes and, hopefully, the car is straight for the left hander.
If you lock the brakes here, you will spear off through the corner and usually into the sand trap. It is third gear for the right-hand exit, which can be very slippery on older tyres.

"Then there is a short run down to VIP Petfood corner, where again the car drifts to the outside and across the start-finish line for another run down Bob Jane T-Mart Pit Straight.

"It is a very long lap and, if you get any part of it wrong, it is very hard to make up for lost time. There are so many variables on each lap with traffic, tyres and luck all playing a part. I can tell you one thing - a good lap here feels fantastic and is very rewarding.

"Bathurst rates up there with the best events in the world. The circuit is unique in that it is as still as raw and challenging as it ever was. The very high-speed cornering sadly doesn't exist on too many tracks now days, so it really is a place that sorts the men from the boys. Any track where your steering binds up in the middle of a corner requires plenty of bravery. This is the one race every Australian kid dreams of winning."

 

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