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Bathurst lap records on the chopping block

THE record for the fastest ever lap of Bathurst’s Mount Panorama Circuit looks set to be smashed this weekend.

Since news broke in December that Red Bull would send a Formula 1 car to run laps at the Bathurst 12 Hour, speculation has mounted around just how fast it will go.

Red Bull itself has been quiet on the matter, promoting the scheduled Saturday running as a demonstration, rather than a lap record hunt.

What is clear is that the 2011-model Red Bull RB7 piloted by 20-year-old Red Bull Junior Driver Liam Lawson should be capable of becoming the fastest-ever.

Button tackles McPhillamy Park in the McLaren. Pic: an1images.com

The benchmark to beat is a 1:48.88s set by Briton Jenson Button aboard a McLaren MP4/23 during a Vodafone promotional event at the circuit in March 2011.

That legendary marker is widely quoted but not an official record, as it was set without timing running and instead revealed by onboard camera footage.

The same analysis could be required to determine just how fast the Red Bull goes, as there has been no confirmation that it will be subject to official timing.

The Bathurst 12 Hour lap records

While not in the same league as the F1 machinery, the Bathurst 12 Hour contenders could also be on record pace this weekend.

The fastest qualifying and race laps achieved aboard the GT3 machinery at the 12 Hour were both set by Shane van Gisbergen back in 2016.

SVG’s time was set during the 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour. Pic: Supplied

That year the Kiwi piloted a McLaren 650S to pole in 2:01.2860s and backed that up with a 2:01.5670s best on the way to victory in the race.

The event moved to a control Pirelli tyre the following year and the benchmarks haven’t been troubled since.

There is a chance the records could be broken this time though, thanks in part to the introduction of a new Pirelli compound.

The rubber – designated DHF – featured in various global GT competitions last year but is making its first race appearance in Australia this weekend.

Local teams sampled the new tyres during pre-event testing, with the Scott Taylor Motorsport Mercedes-mounted Craig Lowndes among those optimistic of quick times.

“We had a run at Phillip Island a couple of weeks ago on the old spec tyre and the new Pirelli,” confirmed Craig Lowndes.

“It was better, it was nicer to drive on and Phillip Island is really long, loaded corners and the tyres stood up very well.

“It really all comes down to the weather and the atmosphere… the track will evolve, it will rubber up and we’ve got to make sure that we keep in tune with that.”

Regardless of conditions, the drivers won’t trouble the fastest-ever time for a GT3 car recorded at Bathurst outside the 12 Hour event.

That belongs to Christopher Mies, who recorded 1:59.2910s aboard an Audi R8 while not subject to Balance of Performance restrictions during the Challenge Bathurst sprint event in 2018.

Mies’ time also stands as the official outright lap record as it was set before Motorsport Australia changed its regulations to stipulate that a lap record must be set during a race.

Today’s action at the Bathurst 12 Hour includes four practice sessions, two of which are dedicated to the Bronze-ranked drivers.

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