Cameron Hill and Tom Sargent have made history in the 2022 Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour, having produced a fairy-tale performance in the annual Easter Sunday endurance race.
Behind the wheel of the #147 Terga Australia BMW M2 Competition Car, the duo started the race in 63rd and charged through the field in the 130 laps to claim the win and the record for the most positions gained in a Bathurst endurance race victory.
Taking out second place in an inspiring performance of their own was Brad Carr and Tim Slade in the Car Mods Australia #8 BMW M3, while reigning champions Shane Smollen, Rob Rubis and new recruit Nick Percat steered the Prestige Connex #1 BMW M4 to third place.
In what was a highly entertaining race that saw plenty of drama throughout the six hours, the CHE Racing Team had drama of its own in the lead up.
Having decided to commit to the race just two months previously, the team spent countless hours trying to get the car ready in time and almost pulled out multiple times due to the enormity of the task.
However, they eventually got to Bathurst and showcased the car’s pure pace as Sargent posted a record-breaking lap to secure pole position.
Unfortunately, the team was then excluded from qualifying overnight due to the BMW being below the minimum ride height, meaning they started from the back of the field – two other exclusions preventing them from starting dead last.
With Sargent given the task of starting the race, the 20-year-old had an incredible opening stint, making up more than 40 positions in just 25 laps.
His cause was aided by a number of top contenders dealing with major mechanical issues within that first hour as he put the BMW in the top 10, including the #23 BMW M3 of Beric Lynton, Tim Leahey and Will Davison, along with the #4 BMW M4 or Anthony Soole, Adam Burgess and Anton De Pasquale.
As the race wore on, the duo muscled their way into top spot and stayed there for the next few hours as they each produced solid stints behind the wheel.
The race heated up towards the last hour when there was doubt as to whether Slade, who had gained the lead after Hill’s last pit stop, had enough petrol to see out the race.
However, the sixth and final safety car period meant they could ease up on fuel usage and make it to the end, however Hill quickly made up the time to reach Slade with half an hour to go.
For the next 15 minutes, Slade defended his hardest against Hill to hold his position as less than a few tenths separated the two, until Hill pulled off a magical move on Brock’s Skyline to claim the lead.
Once Hill gained the lead, he never looked back, posting two consecutive record-breaking laps and crossing the finish line to wrap up a fairy-tale weekend.
“It was a pretty mega final stint,” Hill said.
“I just hunted Slade down. I was really struggling to find a way past him, I could see he was struggling, but he put the car in the right places and I couldn’t do much.
“I realised he was always weak at McPhillamy Park and I just thought if I could get a run through here, and send it up there, it’s on. We did it, it stuck and the rest is history.
“The team did an awesome job. Didn’t put a foot wrong. Pit stops were absolutely on point and Tommy drove some sensational stints, so it was an all-round performance.”
As for Sargent, he was happy to be a part of the process and even more thrilled to get the win in the way that they did.
“To have it (pole position) taken off us hurt for sure, but I definitely think it made the fire in the belly really strong for today,” Sargent said.
“I think for us to drive through the way that we did really proved that our speed wasn’t just on that technical infringement.
“I was very fortunate that I was able to be heavily involved in the build. A lot of us put in constant 100-hour weeks to get this car here and at the time I was questioning whether it was worth it, but I can say right now that it was worth it.
“All those times getting home at 2am and living off pizza for a week made it a bit ‘how you going’, but it’s all worth it now.
“The amount of people behind the scenes that have gotten this car here blows my mind.”
The next Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships event will be at Sydney Motorsport Park on 27-29 May.