On the weekend of the 12th to the 14th April, Australia’s newest motorsport track, The Bend Motorsport Park held its inaugural event. The complex was only just ready to host the Shannons Nationals. The complex is the brainchild of the Peregrine Corporation (Shahin family) which most people would know is behind the OTR chain of petrol stations in Adelaide. The circuit comprises several configurations including the 7.7km long GT Endurance track which is one of the longest permanent such tracks. Only the Australian Endurance class of cars would use the long track, with all the other classes using a shorter International (4.95km) track. However after the conditions experienced on Friday and the Saturday late morning’s Qualifying session it was decided that the Australian Endurance class would not use the long track for safety reasons. Tony Quinn, a seasoned campaigner said it was pretty scary down the back with the layer of dust covering the track.
The various configurations allow difference motorsport events to be held, for example the Australian Superbike Championship and Asia Road Racing Championship motorbike racing would be held on the April 19-21, one week after the Shannons Nationals. Although the track itself was complete and ready for racing the surrounds are a work in progress and this weekend’s event would raise some questions as well as provide answers to how the whole complex works on race day, especially in trying conditions. Blowing dust marred the event n Day 1 and Day 2, with a strong south westerly wind distributing dust on the track, notably on the far eastern end of the longer GT circuit. Rain showers were also present to test the drivers. Although stabilisation of the bare earth areas with grass cover has already begun, dust blowing in from neighbouring properties may be an ongoing problem. By Sunday the wind remained strong but the dust was minimal compared to the preceding days making racing a mush more pleasant and safe affair.
The two configurations used.
The Shannons Nationals comprises several categories of cars:
Australian Endurance – comprising the most prestigious brands of cars including Lamborghini, McLaren, Porsche, Mercedes, BMW (M6) in the top class and Aston Martin, Ginetta and Crossbow in the less powerful GT4 class.
Porsche GT3 – as the name suggests, this class is entirely made up of Porsche GT3s.
Sports Sedans – these hybrid beasts could resemble anything on the outside but have no resemblance to what lurks underneath, often V8 engines shoved into much smaller car bodies than the makers ever intended. The sound these cars make ensures they are a popular class among the spectators.
Group S – when you car gets too old to keep up with the latest machinery, this class keeps the tradition alive. The class was dominated by older Porsches, a De Tomaso Pantera,
Heritage Touring Car – these ex-Bathurst and circuit V8 cars are always popular and a very popular category at the Adelaide Motorsport Festival.
Radical – Radical by name and Radical by nature, these new wave type of purpose built track day cars are making a name for themselves.
Prototypes – this is an unusual category as several of the Radicals race in this as well, but they rub shoulders with cars more akin to open wheel Formula 1 cars crossed with Le Mans cars.
Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup – Qualifying
National Sports Sedans Series – Qualifying
Radical Australia Cup – Race 1
Australian Endurance – Qualifying 1 and 2
Prototype – Race 1
Heritage Touring Cars- Race 2
Group S – Race 2
Porsche Michelin GT3 – Race 1
Sports Sedans – Race 1
Australian Endurance – Practice International Circuit