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Heartbreaking end to production car champ’s Bathurst career

COLIN Osborne’s farewell weekend has come to a premature end at the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour after the #13 Osborne Motorsport Renault Megane RS 265 he was due to share with Canberran father and son duo Rick and Zach Bates was forced to withdraw from today’s race.

An ABS glitch coming over Skyline in the final seconds of Practice 3 sent Super2 young gun Zach into the tyre wall in the Esses, with the damage sustained rendering the car a write-off.

Osborne had already decided to call time on a decorated 35-year career at the conclusion of this year’s Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour.

“Motorsport seems to be far more proficient at writing scripts for nightmares than fairy tales,” Osborne said.

“This weekend brings to an end a 35-year career for me in which I’ve achieved some of my childhood dreams. My head has been wrestling with my heart for quite some time now, but I’m confident that now is the right time to step away.”

Osborne has long been a part of Bathurst’s production car history, starting in the first running of the Bathurst 12 Hour in 1991 alongside Damon Beck and Aaron McGill in a Suzuki Swift GTi.

“I can remember my first year here for the 12 Hour production car race in 1991. Now when I say production car, it was literally a production car. It was completely unmodified with a roll cage, a safety harness, the tyres pumped up, and the oil level overfilled.”

Osborne also won in the production car class at the 2003 Bathurst 24 Hour, driving an Osborne Motorsport Toyota Celica to 16th outright.

The Osborne Motorsport Celica that won its class in the 2003 Bathurst 24 Hour. Photo: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith.

Osborne has witnessed plenty of change in Australian production car racing across his 35-year career, with the standard of car builds and the professionalism of the sport continuing to increase year-by-year.

“You fast forward to today, and the cars you see racing here are far, far more sophisticated, which means they’ve had to become far more sophisticated in the way you prepare the car. It’s a night and day comparison to where we were 35 years ago.”

Osborne’s career has spanned over four decades from the 1990s and has included winning three Australian Production Car titles.

His career has seen him travel to races all around the world, including an assault on the world-famous Nurburgring 24 Hour in 2008 in a Toyota Corolla prepared by his Osborne Motorsport team.

“When I won that first Australian Production Car title, I fulfilled that boyhood dream of becoming an Australian champion,” he said.

“I’ve been so lucky to have the opportunity to go overseas, and do really well in our class at the Nurburgring 24 Hour. Taking cars from my own team from Australia to that event is something that I am very proud of.”

Osborne also thanked the 100-plus people who have been a part of Osborne Motorsport over his time behind the wheel, paying credit to the unsung heroes of motorsport.

“A lot of people are quick to say that motorsport is a team sport, but it really, really is a team sport. I can not say a big enough thank you to all of those people who have helped me over the years. We have 18 here this weekend alone, including my partner who had a passion for motorsport well before we met.

“In all honesty, they have become family to me, I spend more time with them than I do my family.”

Though he may no longer be competing in the 6 Hour as a driver, Osborne is still focusing on getting the best possible result for the Jackson Rice/Cody McKay Renault Megane RS 265 that will start fifth in Class C.

Osborne passed on the opportunity to jump into the sister #31 Megane despite it being an option.

“Irrespective of the result we get this weekend – not that we’re racing to finish second – I think I can look back and really see that there’s been some really big achievements during those 35 years, so getting a good result on Sunday would just be the icing on the cake.”

The Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour commences at 11:45am AEDT and will be shown live on SBS VICELAND, Fox Sports and Kayo.

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