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The Roar


The hidden motorsport gem that is the Bathurst 12 Hour

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Roar Guru
20th February, 2024

Settling into the 760-odd km drive home from the humble township of Bathurst in Central NSW and the jewel that is the Mount Panorama circuit, it was difficult not to ponder deeply how magnificent the Bathurst 12 Hour is.

A fifth visit to the mountain since 2017 for this round-the-clock GT3 endurance race, only strengthened the sentiments around this event being the best in Australian motorsport as a fan – and being a bit of a hidden gem.

The rain-affected 2024 edition saw an emphatic climax with a late Safety Car intervention, after the Invitational Class Vortex entry bogged itself at Griffen’s Bend. Compressing the top five Pro entries and setting up 20-minute dash to the checquered flag, with Matt Campbell in the Porsche triumphing over three-time winner Jules Gounon in a Mercedes and Audi’s Christopher Haase.

The 47,330 person crowd across the three days might seem paltry in comparison to other premier racing events in Australia and indeed it is bemusing why more haven’t embraced the Bathurst 12 Hour. Even with the pull of MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi which saw an increase in numbers last year for his first race at the mountain.

Bathurst 12 Hour celebrations. (Photo by Jawad Yaqub)

It remains one of the most accessible events around, even with the breadth of local and international racing superstars that are present. A roaming general admission ticket for the three-days is less than $90 and with that access to the paddock is included. Not to mention the unique ‘Track to Town’ event on Thursday, where the entire field of cars are driven from the circuit to the centre of Bathurst and put on display for fans to inspect and admire – whilst also see their favourite drivers for an autograph, photo or even a yarn.

GT3s is also one of the least daunting categories in global motorsport, in that the formula utilises road-going exotic cars from household manufacturer names and the Balance of Performance (BoP) tool ensures there is parity – resulting in little need for fans to require an intricate technical understanding to follow the sport. There’s always going to be great racing with gorgeous cars and stellar driving talent.


Then there’s Mount Panorama. 6.2km of public road, draped over a summit to create one of the most challenging circuits in the world – as well as one of the most beautiful. There is no argument to be had about whether the transition from complete darkness at 5:45am when the race starts, to a picturesque dawn with stunning shades of pastel pink and blue in the sky above Skyline corner, can be trumped by cut-and-paste concrete jungles which appear all the rage in other premier racing categories.

Bathurst 12 Hour action. (Photo by Jawad Yaqub)

Bathurst 12 Hour action. (Photo by Jawad Yaqub)

Transition then into what is described as the ‘Golden Hour’, where the top of the mountain is ensconced in a golden glow of the sun, as drivers continue to jockey for position in the first quarter of the race. With the soothing tones of Radio Le Mans legend John Hindhaugh in commentary, complimented by the passion of Richard Craill, the expertise of Garth Tander and all the pit-lane happenings from the brilliant Shea Adam and Chad Neylon.

The fact too, that Queenslander and factory driver for Porsche Penske Motorsport in Campbell, who’s now won his second 12 Hour with fellow Weissach champion Laurens Vanthoor and young Turkish prospect Ayhancan Güven, isn’t more prominent amongst Australian sporting stars is ludicrous.

29-year old Campbell is a fascinating export story, given his long-time association with Porsche has now yielded a factory berth in the top-flight of sportscar racing. Which saw him claim the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona outright last month and will see the Aussie attempt the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hour in the top Hypercar category.

There is a real purity about the Bathurst 12 Hour, further reinforced by the welcoming nature of the fans trackside. A melding pot from all walks of life, with one common passion – car racing. Whether someone’s a seasoned 12 Hour attendee, there for their first, or just in town to catch a glimpse of a particular 45-year old Italian – the vibe is relaxed and there is little in the way of gatekeeping or discrimination.


Yes, sportscars and endurance racing isn’t for everyone. Instant gratification and a barrage of highlight plays to keep audiences enthralled is more prevalent. Though hearing Craillsy’s great analogy about Test cricket during the commentary reinforced the belief of good things come to those who wait. And ultimately the visceral sensation of being perched trackside a reminder of why we love motorsport.