Ash Walsh

Past experience lifts hopes for Ipswich racer on the mountain

IPSWICH racer Ash Walsh returns to Mt Panorama next week for his third attempt at Australia's most famous race.

The Bathurst 1000 is shaping up as one of the most competitive on record, with the recently held Sandown 500 showing that the winner could come from anywhere in the field.

The Ipswich driver has unfinished business at Bathurst with a strong 15th place with Tim Blanchard at his first attempt in 2013, followed by a did not finish result with Scott Pye last year.

Both his previous attempts have been aboard DJR Falcon FG's but this year Walsh is the lead driver in the Erebus AMG E63.

The 2014 event was devastating as the DJR Ford was on course for a solid top 10 result prior to the track deterioration and then a delaminated tyre on the 285km Conrod Straight while Pye was at the wheel.

This year has produced some positive progress for Walsh and his Erebus team.

As the Championship moves into the big points on offer in endurance races, Walsh is hoping to capitalise on the hard work and end his rookie year in a solid overall position.

"Sandown was a very good hit-out for the team,'' Walsh said.

"We finished all 161 laps and felt the car had made some progress by the time we got to the Sunday morning warm-up.

"Up until then we were chasing our tail a bit and really not on top of the handling of the Infants' Friend AMG E63.

"Jack (LeBrocq) made some good progress in his first stint and made quite a few spots.

"As we went a little longer before the first stop, we were actually second on the road. I was able to continue to move up, once I jumped in, but like so many other guys were saying, late in the race it was really hard to pass anyone.''

Walsh said his pit stops at Sandown were good, enhancing the team's hopes for Bathurst.

"The cars have improved for sure so far this season, but with the new final drive change for Bathurst, horsepower is going to be really important this year,'' Walsh said.

"It is my third Bathurst 1000 and my first as lead driver in the main game.

"Jack and I like the car set-up almost the same so we will approach the race with Lap 161 as the goal.

"There is no doubt a clean run at Bathurst can deliver some great results.

"Last year Will and Alex (Davison) were just two seconds away from a podium, so the team has some good history already at Bathurst. I really can't wait to get there."

The Bathurst 1000 kicks off next Thursday with practice sessions for both primary and co drivers.

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