YESTERDAY’S Bathurst 12 Hour at Mount Panorama is on track to becoming one of the big international endurance races.
With double the entries and close to 3000 more patrons attending this year’s edition of the event, compared to 2012, organisers are hopeful they can keep building its profile.
Event director James O’Brien said there were two key benchmark figures that indicated the event’s success: the number of entries and size of the crowd.
While there were 27 entries in the 2012 event, this year’s race attracted a field of 49.
The crowd was also up this year, with 22,453 race fans passing through the gates between Friday and yesterday, compared to last year’s figure of 19,728.
“We’re very happy with where we are this year compared to last year,” Mr O’Brien said yesterday.
“It’s a nice improvement to see a good percentage increase in ticket sales and the number of entries.
“That comes down to a few factors. Firstly, there’s been greater media exposure this year.
“And we attracted some of the best commentators in the world here this weekend.
“We also enjoyed good weather.”
This year, the race start time was an hour later at 7am which Mr O’Brien said provided more time for any early morning fog to clear.
But even with better visibility, the first hour of racing was chaotic. Five cars were taken out of the race in two incidents that each brought the safety car onto the track.
“If you make a mistake out there, it bites you,” Mr O’Brien said.
As far as rivalling the Great Race in October, Mr O’Brien said it would be difficult to compete with the tradition of the Bathurst 1000.
“The 12 Hour is a great spectacle but I wouldn’t anticipate the attendance figures of this weekend would rival those of the 1000,” he said. “It’s a big event internationally in terms of exposure and profile.
“I think it could be one of the big international endurance races.”