Commentary team ready for another enduro classic

Beretts

THERE’S no other sporting event broadcast on Australian TV like the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.

One of the longest single-day sporting event broadcasts on Australian TV, the coverage on 7mate will not only include all twelve hours of the race on Sunday, but Saturday’s Pirelli Top-10 shootout.

Every moment will be live and free on Australian TV and available to local and international audiences via a live stream on the Bathurst 12 Hour website and a host of streaming partners.

The same commentary team – with one or two additions – will return for the race this year and each has special memories of covering Australia’s International Enduro.

“My greatest memory of the Bathurst 12 Hour is the start!” says 7Sport’s Mark Beretta, who will again anchor the coverage this year, as well as reporting from pit lane.

“The grid stretches back around the bend – a rare sight – then to see and hear the cars roaring off in a sea of headlights and then follow those snaking lights up the mountain, across Skyline, and finally hear more than 50 of the world’s fastest and most powerful race cars firing down Conrod Straight is remarkable!

“I’ve never seen or heard anything like it in motorsport any where.. and then we settle in for great racing and the battle of attrition!”

The truly international broadcast combines local talent and the expert input of members of the RadioLeMans.com team.

Florida-based Shea Adam returns to cover pit lane this year and told bathurst12hour.com.au that the pit lane experience is like nothing else.

“Getting to interview anyone after they’ve won a life-changing race is special, but the moment immediately after is one where they are still in shock. Grabbing drivers and team members off the pit wall after they’ve waved their car across is one thing, but they don’t fully understand what it means at that point. It takes a while for them to come to reality, to grasp the totality of what they’ve just accomplished.

“Usually after the podium ceremony, after they’ve sat for the interviews in the media center with Craillsy, the light bulb comes on over their heads and the real smiles come out. When a driver finally realizes that they have done just that, the glee is infectious. I love being a part of that.”

Like fellow pit-lane reporter Beretta, Adam says the moment the sun pokes its head over the Blue Mountains is a milestone moment in the race.

“..It simply means the race is getting started. Sunrise means it’s about to heat up, that the Australian climate is about to rear it’s head and attack,” she says.

“Sunrise also means Mount Panorama wakes up. The animals around the track are more of a hazard at sunrise, and teams almost hold their breaths as kangaroos hop across the track in front of their cars. Sunrise is also a mark of survival at Bathurst, but it means you’ve only made it through the beginning and you still have a long way to go!”

Chad Neylon will return to the pit lane team this year and will be joined by a fourth member of the crew – 7Sport reporter Alex Hart.

Well known for his involvement in Supercars broadcasts, Neylon relishes watching the key moments unfold.

“The key memory for for me, it has to be 2017,” he explains.

“Jamie Whincup versus Shane van Gisbergen. Whincup had two wheels in the dirt as they desperately battled for the lead down Conrod.

“Ultimately, SVG drove beyond the limits of the AMG and the drama continued in the pits with Maro Engel’s remarkably blunt comments about his teammate’s performance. You only get that sort of drama at Bathurst.”

A change in the commentary box this year will see regular race callers John Hindhaugh and Richard Craill joined by Bathurst first-timer, Johnny Palmer.

With commentary regular Graham Goodwin – from dailysportscar.com – committed to Asian LeMans series commentary duties in Malaysia, Palmer will join the team for the first time.

Goodwin, however, has fond memories of his time on the Mountain.

“The greatest memory is actually a series of greatest memories,” he said.

“Every year, despite the odds, there always seems to be a bared teeth, wheel to wheel, elbows out battle for the lead in the very final laps. McLaren, Mercedes, Ferrari, Audi, Bentley, Aston Martin – They’ve all been involved in recent years – but for me THE moment was the astounding charge to the front from the Nissan in 2015.

“Strategy, guile and teamwork get it done at this level of GT racing but the battles that get the crowd, and the commentators! on their feet and cheering are what makes racing special, and this is a race that always delivers exactly that.”

Craill, who will call his twelfth-straight Bathurst 12 Hour this year – every year since the race returned in 2007 – says the way the race plays out is always the highlight.

“For a summer race, I think it’s appropriate that it’s a bit like a match of Test Cricket which, as a Cricket tragic, is great.

“It’s not a quick payoff – there’s a building narrative throughout the event and it takes a while before you get a real indication of who the key players are and how the result is going to sway. Then like all Bathurst races, you get to the end and it all goes completely crazy, as usual.

“Every year there has been something compelling at the end. In 2013 it was the crazy weather. The next year was Lowndes-versus-Buhk. Nissan starred a year later with the birth of the legend that was Chiyo-san. He highlighted the end of 2016 as he hunted down SVG’s McLaren and then last year it was the battle between the Ferrari and the AMG.

“There’s always a payoff and you always leave that place going ‘what was that!’.”

Hindhaugh, who has called his fair share of endurance racing, loves another Bathurst tradition – that one-lap dash to decide the grid on Saturday.

“Of course the day-long drama of the race is magnificent. But for me there’s something very special about final qualifying for the Simonsen Trophy,” he says.

“There’s a purity to it. Man and machine versus The Mountain. The fastest laps we’re likely to see all weekend, possible the fastest Bathurst lap ever by a car with a roof.

“The spectacle is so on the edge, such complete focus, that I forget to exhale. Qualifying for me: literally breathtaking.”

The 7Sport team will be in action on Saturday and Sunday this weekend; as well as bringing audio coverage of every 12-hour session throughout the weekend with live audio streaming on Friday, and audio and video streaming on Saturday prior to the Shootout.