Australian GT Manager Ken Collier has visited Australia’s newest motorsport complex at Tailem Bend in South Australia.
Set to host Round 2 of the 2018 CAMS Australian GT Championship, The Bend Motorsport Complex is in the final stages of construction ahead of its maiden event, a 24-hour bicycle race, early next year.
With Australian GT set to be among the first cars on the new circuit in April, taking in the longest 7.77km configuration, Mr Collier shared his thoughts on the circuit.
“The creation of Australia’s largest motorsport and corporate activity facility on a 680-hectare site near to the small rural town of Tailem Bend is truly sensational,” Mr Collier stated.
“After an easy 80-minute drive east from Adelaide airport, I arrived at a large construction site which has understated signage to indicate that a substantial (on any terms) development is being undertaken by one of South Australia’s most successful families.”
Mr Collier was hosted by Mark Warren, general manager of The Bend Motorsport Park, who provided a tour of the facility.
“I arrived on site earlier than expected so waited at the site gatehouse,” Mr Collier said.
“It was a very hot day, however being able to watch the activities the bulldozers, excavators, bulk dump trucks, cranes and scissor lifts working on the construction of a large “On The Run” petrol and food station passed the time easily.
“This did not however even hint at what was going on beyond the boom gate.”
Once inside, Mr Collier admits he was impressed by the scale of the project.
“A quick look at the aerial overview plan of the site revealed a huge development including the circuit race track, pit lane building including a 100 room Rydges Hotel, driver training area, separate 2km drag strip with control tower and parallel airstrip, the 4WD track, rally track, industrial park, residential village, caravan park and more.
“Walking over the dry dusty worksite to the pit lane building started to reveal the enormous undertaking that this predominately privately funded project is.
“The building is 4 levels tall and about 400 metres long,” Mr Collier added.
“It is mostly constructed and the 34 huge pit lane garages being used as workshops by some of the 300+ construction workers on the site.
“The building really is first class and includes a vehicle collection display area in the centre section which is also the Rydges Hotel reception, the café and bar, various corporate and member facilities.
“The final laying of the bitumen on the circuit track was happening on the day I was at the site.
“The various track layouts includes the 7.77km GT circuit which is the second longest permanent track in the world, next to Nurburgring – other options are the shorter 4.95km International circuit which the Supercars will use and three other layouts of about 3.5km.
“From the top of the pit lane building I got the full panorama view of the site which surprisingly has decent undulations over the circuit and is certainly not a flat track like QR.
“The complete circuit is visible from that vantage point including the 1km pit lane straight and over to the farthest point of the GT circuit which is over 1km from where I was standing.
“The hard stand area for transporter parking and garage marquees will be substantial and work on the drainage is near completion prior to the laying of the bitumen.
“An area of this will also be used for driver training with skid pan.”
Mr Collier is no stranger to new circuits, having been deeply involved with Tony Quinn during the construction of the iconic Highlands Park on the South Island of New Zealand.
Even still, the visit to Australia’s newest motorsport complex left Mr Collier enthusiastic about Australian GT’s visit to the venue in early 2018, and full of praise for those involved in its construction.
“The most impressive feature of the facility is the fact that the Shahin family through their company Peregrine Corporation are basically funding all of this themselves,” Mr Collier said.
“I don’t think they will not be getting much change out of $200M, with little chance of a positive ROI imaginable.
“This is a testimony to their commitment to building the best motorsport park in Australia as a genuine gift to the sport.
“Was I impressed? Absolutely!”
The 2018 CAMS Australian GT Championship will host its second round at the new complex in April (14-15), with the first of three endurance events for the year.
It follows on from the season-opening event at the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix in late March, where GT4 cars will be welcomed into the top tier of championship competition for the first time in Australia.