It might be an around-the-clock enduro but the race has only been won from lower than seventh on the grid on one single occasion in 19 previous editions.
Couple that with the fact that the pole position winner claims the coveted Allan Simonsen Pole Award – named after the late, great Dane who was one of the quickest ever around Mount Panorama in GT machinery – it makes the Saturday of Australia’s International Enduro a compelling proposition.
The pathway to pole changes this year with three distinct sessions required to set the grid – and multiple drivers in each car required to contribute towards making the Shootout, let alone claiming top spot.
It’s a continuation of the format implemented last year which saw the Pro and Amateur driver in each car required to contribute to the cars qualifying performance.
It adds to the team nature of endurance racing and makes the ‘Am’ drivers vitally important in each entry that includes them.
The initial phase of Qualifying will be split into two parts.
Part one will be for all competitors except the cars in the Professional class, and will run for 25 minutes.
Part two will be open for all cars and runs for 40 minutes.
The challenge comes with the fact that two drivers are required to set the qualifying time for each car, regardless of class.
Much like last year, Pro-Am, Silver and Invitational class entries will have their qualifying time determined by an aggregate (read: Combined) time created by taking the quickest lap from two drivers in each car. Those lap times will be combined to set their qualifying time.
Lets say the #777 Audi has Yasser Shahin pump out a 2m05s lap in Qualifying Part 1 and Chris Mies a typically quick 2m02s lap in Part 2: Their qualifying time would be 4m07 seconds.
For the Pro combinations things are different: Two drivers must set a lap time in the 40-minute Qualifying part two. Those lap times will be put together to set their combined qualifying time.
Take the #888 car as an example: Shane van Gisbergen runs first and punches out a 2m01.5s flyer early in Qualifying Part 2.
Maxi Goetz then jumps in, chucks new Pirelli’s at their Mercedes-AMG for the second half of the session and manages to match SVG’s time, meaning their qualifying time is a combined 4m03.0s.
So once all that is complete, we’ll have the makings of a grid. Positions 11 back will be locked in, while the top-10 progress to the Pirelli Shootout.
That separate session retains the format introduced at short notice last year, with a pair of 15-minute dashes.
The bottom half of the top-10 from qualifying run first, with the quickest five running last.
In that, we return to the more recognised Bathurst qualifying format: one driver, needing one perfect lap to grab the top spot.
The quickest driver and his or her team then lifts the Allan Simonsen Pole Award and has the best possible vantage point for the always-hectic run into Turn 1 in the pre-dawn darkness at 5:45am on Sunday morning.