After the recent reluctant withdrawal of 50 competitors last month, due to ongoing border restrictions, the 2021 Challenge Bathurst has bounced back nicely with 40 new drivers signing up.
As a result of the influx of new entries, just a few spots remain in the popular event, which takes place at the famous Mount Panorama later this month.
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Held over four jam packed days, the event is split into two with a supersprint running on the Thursday and Friday, and a modern regularity taking place over the Saturday and Sunday.
Headlining the huge talent pool of entrants, made up of both experienced campaigners and drivers attempting the mountain for the first time, is Australian motorsport Hall-of-Famer, John Bowe.
The 1995 Australian Touring Car Champion enters the event as the current leader of the Gulf Western Oil Touring Car Masters (TCM), which holds its final round of the 2021 season at the same circuit as part of the six-day Repco Bathurst 1000.
Bowe leads the series by just 10 points and was looking forward to cutting laps of Bathurst during the Challenge in preparation for the TCM series finale.
“It’s been hard to get track time in 2021, so I’m taking the opportunity to prepare for the big TCM finale at the Bathurst 1000 by running my Paynter Dixon Torana at Challenge,” Bowe said.
“Mobil 1 has arranged two training sessions for Regularity drivers which I’ll be hosting and I can’t help being enthusiastic about what it takes to ‘conquer the mountain’ particularly with so many new drivers.
“I’ve driven at Bathurst for 40 years and I still enjoy every single lap… it’s a thrill that’s hard to explain. You’ve just got to do it to know how it feels.”
Event organiser Greg Evans was thrilled to have someone of Bowe’s stature attending the event, which he believed was highly beneficial for the less experienced entrants.
“As soon as the places are becoming available they are being taken by both new and experienced drivers, keen for a first try, or back to clock up a few more Bathurst laps,” Evans added.
“Motorsport legend John Bowe is coming out of a long lockdown in Melbourne for the Challenge Bathurst supersprint and he’s offered to provide tips for the new regularity competitors.
“We feel very fortunate that the opening up again in New South Wales and Victoria has allowed many new competitors to compete at Bathurst.”
The 2021 Challenge Bathurst takes place at Mount Panorama on 11-14 November.