The top six International drivers at Mount Panorama
International competitors have been a regular feature at Mount Panorama in all the different formats and categories over the years.
But who have been the best and most successful global stars to zip up the nomex and strap on a skid lid to tackle the 6.213km strip of scenic road?
Ahead of the Bathurst International, the editorial team at Speed Series used its downtime effectively by re-watching every motor race and reading every piece of literature about the circuit to come up with the top six international drivers to ever compete at the famous circuit.
NOTE TO SPEED SERIES BOSSES: Our editorial team didn’t really waste all of this time. The fact is that we’ve been doing this for fun since we learnt how to use a VHS player!
We have based our top six on two factors – success and star power. As you’ll see, we have selected six drivers who have achieved great success in the various race events over the circuit’s storied 84 year history.
Plus, we’ve added a few honourable mentions too.
So, over to you for comment and debate. These are our top six. What are yours?
From a humble Toyota Yaris to one of the fastest Audi drivers in the world. The German GT ace is a multiple Bathurst 12 Hour winner, an Australian GT and Endurance champion, Blancpain Endurance Championship winner and an Audi factory driver for more than a decade. A regular visitor to Australian shores, Mies set the fastest official lap around the Mountain at a 1m 59.291s in an unrestricted Audi R8 LMS GT3 solidifying his place on this list.
A stalwart of the Tom Walkinshaw Racing-run Volvo super touring team, the Swede was supposed to make his Bathurst debut in 1994 for the Holden Racing Team though Craig Lowndes fever hit and he missed his shot. Winning the British Touring Car Championship at the height of the factory wars in 1998, he ventured down to partner Jim Richards in an S40 to attack the 1000 and was scintillating during the Top 10 Shootout to achieve pole before winning the next day. He returned to Bathurst in 2003 finishing seventh as he won races in the European, World and Scandinavian Touring Car Championships during his latter career in addition to GT1 success at Le Mans
By the time the Belgian arrived at Mount Panorama he had already eight Grands Prix having raced with Ferrari, Lotus, McLaren, Branham and Tyrrell. Ickx was regarded as an endurance specialist having won the Le Mans 24 Hour four times, the first with Ford before taking a hattrick of wins with Mirage and Porsche between 1975 and 1976. In 1977 he finished runner up in the French endurance classic before joining Allan Moffat for a successful Bathurst campaign as Ford took a dominant 1-2. Ickx added a further two Le Mans victories in 1981 and 1982 as he then tackled an endurance event of a different kind, the Dakar. Winning in 1983 for Mercedes, Ickx also finished second for Porsche in 1986 and Peugeot in 1989.
Percy holds a great affinity with Australian fans through his successful partnership with Allan Grice resulting in an underdog victory for Holden in 1990. He led the Holden Racing Team during its inaugural seasons, but before then he was held in high esteem across Europe after multiple British Touring Car Championship wins and being narrowly defeated to the European title when his lowest score was dropped. Winning the 1989 Spa 24 Hour for Ford came after multiple starts not only in the touring car classic, but the Le Mans 24 Hour with Jaguar, Mazda and Nissan, but luck eluded the Brit at the French circuit.
The aggressive Scot is more remembered for the 1992 British Touring Car Championship climax than anything else as the quote ‘the man’s an animal’ referring to rival Steve Soper entered the vernacular. Cleland won two British Touring Car Championships for Vauxhall and held an Australian link through racing an ex-Holden Dealer Team VK ‘Big Banger’ Commodore in Thundersaloons. Entering 12 Bathurst 1000s, he finished a best of second with Brad Jones in 2001 and fifth in 1998 when Triple Eight Race Engineering entered the Super Touring event. He still does occasionally race one of his ex-Super Tourer Vauxhall Vectras at historic events.
A motoring journalist and professional racing driver, Niedwiedz is best remembered for bis long association with Allan Moffat starting with a near-victory in 1988. A long-time ally of Ford, the German came to attention when racing a Zakspeed Ford Capri setting a lap record for Group 5 touring cars around the Nordschleife. Although he dabbled in sportscar racing, Niedzwiedz was a mainstay in touring cars nearly winning the 1987 World Touring Car Championship and finishing runner up in the 1989 DTM. Finishing a best of second at the Mountain in 1989 pairing with fellow German Frank Biela, Niedzwiedz drove for the factory Honda team in STW before winning the privateer title in 1998.
Sir Stirling Moss
The best driver to never win the World Drivers’ Championship, enough said.
A three-time World Touring Car Championship winner and a top 10 Bathurst finisher as a Wildcard.
A champion on dirt and tarmac, Ekstrom starred on debut partnering Priaulx in top 10 Wildcard performance.
That last stint charge at the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour was one to behold
Nursing the ailing Bob Morris L34 Torana to an emotional victory and a multiple winner at Le Mans
Achieved success on both sides of the Atlantic at Le Mans and Daytona in addition to racing Formula 1.
Be there to witness history for the inaugural Supercheap Auto Bathurst International. CLICK HERE to secure your tickets.
All of the action will be broadcast live, on-demand and ad-break free on Stan Sport in Australia. International viewers can watch via motorsport.tv.
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