Reigning Australian Formula Ford Champion Tom Sargent has played a starring role in CHE Racing’s incredible last-to-first victory at the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour on the weekend.
Sharing the team’s freshly-built BMW M2 Competition with Cameron Hill, Sargent was immediately on the pace in the weekend’s practice sessions and was entrusted with the responsibility of qualifying the car.
Sargent did not disappoint, punching out a scorching 2:24.3 lap time to top Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session by more than a second. However, the team’s elation did not last, with officials excluding the BMW from the session for a ride height irregularity and relegating the team to 61st and last on the grid for Sunday’s endurance marathon.
What followed was one of the most blistering stints in Bathurst endurance racing history. Sargent made up a staggering 19 positions on the first lap, was inside the top 10 by lap 10 and pitted out of fifth position on lap 12 for the car’s first compulsory pit stop.
By lap 26, the CHE Racing BMW was in the lead and while their track position ebbed and flowed as pit strategies played out, they ran at the front of the field for the bulk of the remaining laps and ultimately took a well-deserved victory.
The result continues Sargent’s strong run of form in the Bathurst 6 Hour, after he won Class D last year driving alongside Lachlan Mineeff in a Toyota 86.
The 20-year-old was understandably elated with the result.
“This has been an incredible weekend and the most amazing experience of my motorsport career so far,” Sargent said.
“We built this car in our little Queanbeyan workshop and we spent many long nights putting it together – we only finished it just in time for the race and were still putting the finishing touches on it at the track.
“For it to be so fast was amazing, but for it to be faultlessly reliable for such an intense endurance race was a credit to the hard work of everyone at CHE Racing.
“After qualifying so well on Saturday and having it taken away from us, I was very fired up to fight back through the field, which is why I was charging hard in the first stint.”
Sargent said the experience of racing an outright car was very different to his Toyota 86 campaign last year.
“Last year, we were in one of the slower classes and I spent a lot of time looking in my mirrors,” Sargent said.
“This year, we were in the fastest class, but that presented challenges with negotiating the slower traffic. Fortunately, the other drivers were very courteous and we didn’t really have any issues.”
With the Bathurst 6 Hour successfully completed, Sargent’s attention now turns to the Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge where he will race the GT3 Cup car in which Cameron Hill won last year’s Carrera Cup title.
Sargent has already tested the car extensively and is looking forward to the first round of the season at Sydney Motorsport Park on 27-29 May.
“Winning the Bathurst 6 Hour is a great way to kick off the 2022 season, but now I’m focused on our Porsche program and fighting for the title in Michelin Sprint Challenge,” Sargent concluded.