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Champion Bargwanna’s Bathurst reality check

EIGHT months back, Jude Bargwanna was not shy in declaring the Kumho Tyre V8 Touring Car Series title as his out-and-out 2023 objective.

Fast forward to now and he’s come good on that aim, capturing the crown with a strong weekend at the Bathurst International.

“I’m absolutely rapt to take the title out,” he told V8 Sleuth.

“It’s what we set out to do at the start of the year and we’ve ticked the boxes along the way and to come away with the title, I couldn’t be happier to reward the Anderson Motorsport boys with that.

“And to do it there in front of family and friends was pretty cool too.”

As he targets a step up to the 2024 Dunlop Series, in either Super2 or Super3, there was a nice learning opportunity presented in the Kumho Series finale.

That came in the form of heightened competition offered by Ryan Simpson and Cameron McLeod, the latter of whom has starred in Super3 and swept the Kumho Series action at Bathurst.

“We have got plenty of learning to do in terms of stepping up and all that sort of stuff,” said Bargwanna, who finished second to McLeod in all three races.

Jude Bargwanna. Pic: V8 Touring Car Series

“Cammy was pretty fast but that was expected, he’s done lots of laps and he’s been in a car like every weekend for the past two months sort of thing, so it’s hard to compete with something like that.

“I had only ever raced there in a production car at Bathurst, so it was a big step up in confidence and speed across the top especially.

“I was really happy by the end of the weekend with where we ended up, we progressed a long way over the weekend and it was good to have someone like Cammy to chase and even have a bit of a race with in the last race.”

More broadly, the chance to steer a Supercar at Bathurst was particularly special given his family’s history in the Great Race – his father Scott took a class win in the 1992 edition and uncle Jason won outright in 2000.

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“It was a pretty cool lead-up into the weekend and turning those laps on Friday in practice was something pretty special,” said Bargwanna.

“It was a massive eye-opener. I was getting out of the car with dinner plate eyes, I couldn’t believe the speeds we were doing and how fast these things are around there.

“It was an amazing opportunity, super grateful for it, and just really happy to have a clean weekend and come away with the championship.”

The teenager also reserved praise for Anderson Motorsport stablemate Zak Best, who leads the Super2 standings and is in line to graduate to the main game in 2024.

“To have someone like Zak Best in my corner to guide me through the year on how you can win a championship, that was a vital learning experience,” said Bargwanna.

“That’s why I went out and did this series, so we could have all that learning experience mixed in with the low-pressure environment.”

Best will look to make it a title double for Anderson Motorsport later this month, as he carries a 30-point lead over Kai Allen into the Adelaide Super2 decider on November 23-26.

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