Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 rookie Jack Smith believes he is ‘starting to gel’ with the fabled circuit, after facing a steep learning curve in previous visits to the Mountain.
Smith had a frightening shunt at The Dipper on his Dunlop Super2 Series debut at Mount Panorama in 2016, writing off a Paul Morris Motorsport Falcon.
Three years on, the 20-year-old will make his maiden Great Race appearance, teaming with Todd Hazelwood in the Matt Stone Racing Commodore for the first of three PIRTEK Enduro Cup events.
“I can’t say I’ve had many highlights there. It is a tough place,” Smith said of Bathurst.
“I’m starting to gel with it a bit now. I’ve done it for three years now [in Super2], so I know the drill going there this year.
“I’ll be able to attack it and try a bit harder.”
Smith’s first Bathurst 1000 follows a series of wildcard appearances in the main game this year for Brad Jones Racing.
He will be on double duties at Bathurst, continuing in his usual Super2 duties for BJR along with his Supercars co-driving role.
“My roles is to do the laps I need to do, do them well, safely and soundly and pretty much not mess anything up,” he said of co-driving with Hazelwood.
“Bathurst is quite special, it is a place no one can truly understand until they’ve done it.
“I’ve had bad experiences there. You come back every year and try to get better.
“Most drivers have had trouble there at one point or another.
“It’s steep, fast and there is no run-off, you don’t have small crashes there. The margin for error is very, very small.
“You can’t think about that sort of thing, you deal with the margin for error in every race, because you’re obviously driving at high speeds.
“The consequences are higher at Bathurst than other tracks, but at the end of the day, you are there to go fast, crashes do happen. You can’t think about it.”
The Bond University property management student has set a target for what he’d like to achieve in the 1000km classic.
“A good week would be finishing inside the top 10, that would be really nice,” he said.