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Mount Panorama Hillclimbs
March 5 & 6, 2022

The weather gods held off for the two days of hillclimbing run by Bathurst Light Car Club. Rain and thunderstorms were predicted for both days but apart from a storm on the Saturday night the weather was as close to perfect as could be wished for - no rain, not too hot, not too cold, not too windy. The flooding in other parts of the state did have an effect, however, and the event was downgraded by Motorsport Australia from rounds of the NSW Hillclimb Championship to just a club level because many championship participants were unable to travel. This was a disappointment for the organisers, and the disappointment was doubled because about twenty entrants pulled out as there would be no championship points on offer. As championship points are only awarded down to tenth place, many of the withdrawals could be assumed to leave pointless had the events retained their championship status (the two days were different championship rounds). I hope that we don't see any of the withdrawing drivers complaining later in the season that they didn't have enough competition to test their cars. (I should point out that forest rally competitors relish the opportunity to test their cars in a non-competitive and non-championship event.)

BLCC are renowned for the quality of organisation at their events and this was no exception. Despite the withdrawals and the threatening weather everything ran smoothly and as close to on time as anyone could wish for. The venue, Mount Panorama racing circuit, is perfect and the different courses on the two days provided enough variety to test everyone. The ambulance only had to go out onto the track once and any injury to the driver was treated immediately (it was only precautionary and the ambulance soon returned to its parking spot outside the BLCC clubhouse).

I noticed several differences between covering this event and the forest rallies I usually go to. Apart from no dust and having to remember that I was in the pit area not the service park it was a bonus being able to park the car in one place all day and walk to where I wanted to take photos (with the added advantage of getting lots of exercise - the top of that big hill isn't flat). The big difference, however, is that out in the forests I go to three or four different places during the day where I can see the cars in totally different circumstances but at a hillclimb everyone gets four or five passes over the same piece of road so any variety of shots is limited. This was my first time at McPhillamy Park for many years (I used to do on-course commentary for races and was an official in other capacities for many races so my priorities were different then) so I had to experiment a little with where I could go. An example is that I would have loved to get some photos of cars coming up through The Cutting but there is a private house right on the corner. I walked down through Sulman Park but the resident's fence prevented me from going any further. Next time I'll drive to where I can get some good shots there (it's a bit too far to walk). And there will be a next time.

As usual I spent some time walking around pointing the camera at competitors getting ready. (I did it on both days, which is why some cars appear more than once). I had to keep reminding myself that this was "the pits" not "the service park", because I wasn't at a rally

Click to see the action in the pits.

Click for pictures from Round 1
The Esses

Click for pictures from Round 2
Mountain Straight

The BLCC site can be found here.

Copyright © 2016- Peter Bowditch

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