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Drivers to win piece of Mount Panorama sign

EFFORTS to encourage Pro-Am entrants into the 2023 Bathurst 12 Hour have included offering a unique prize to the class winners.

This year has seen an all-Pro driver class reintroduced into the GT endurance race, after running as a Pro-Am in 2022.

While it’s expected that a Pro Class car will win the race outright, the Pro-Am winning drivers will each take home a piece of Mount Panorama.

That will come as part of a new winner’s watch, featuring pieces of the iconic white rock that forms the famous ‘Mount Panorama Bathurst’ sign courtesy of the Bathurst Regional Council.

The Mount Panorama Bathurst sign was constructed from a locally quarried limestone rock product from Omya Minerals, utilising approximately 1000 tonnes to construct.

The quarry can be seen with its white rockface several kilometres north-west of McPhillamy Park.

“We want to look after the Pro-Ams, they are the guys who invest in their cars,” explained event director Shane Rudzis.

“With the new watch sponsor we’ve got, Bausele, an Australian company, the idea was ‘how do we build a watch that they want to get?’.

“We’ve got this new watch where within the watch, parts of the Mount Panorama rock is actually ground down and inserted into the crown of the watch.

“It means if you win the Pro-Am Cup, you’ll always have a piece of Bathurst with you the whole time.

“The Pro-Am Cup entrants are going ‘I want to get that watch’. It’s a cool concept.”

Bausele has also produced a run of 100 watches featuring pieces of tyre rubber from the GT3 cars at the 12 Hour, which are available for public sale.

A 24-car field took the start. Pic: Supplied

The race’s 24 starters were made up of eight Pro Class and eight Pro-Am, as well as six Silver Class and two Invitational.

“We made a gamble going Pro-Pro,” added Rudzis of reintroducing the Pro Class, which had been scrapped amid efforts to revive the race in 2022.

“There was a bit of conjecture about us doing it or not, there’s a lot of pressure on what we do.

“Working with (Intercontinental GT Challenge organisers) SRO we backed ourselves knowing that we could do it and we’ve pulled it off, so it’s been great.”

Bathurst 12 Hour classes explained

So what is a Pro-Am entry? Each driver in the Bathurst 12 Hour is categorised by the FIA as either Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze.

Platinum and Gold drivers are considered Pros, with the rest Ams. The class structures are then set as follows.

PRO

Three drivers: no categorisation

PRO-AM

Three drivers: Two Platinum, Gold or Silver, one Bronze
Four drivers: Two Platinum, Gold or Silver, Two Bronze

SILVER

Three drivers: All Silver
Four drivers: Two Silver, Two Bronze

INVITATION

The Invitational class is made up of cars that either don’t fit into an existing category or have originally been entered in a class that did not have the numbers to field their own.

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