Parkes man Peter O'Donnell wins his first Bathurst 6 Hour in Class B1

FIRST PLACE: Parkes businessman Peter O'Donnell (centre) and his team Garry Mennell and Peter Johnston with the Class B1 trophy after Sunday's win at the Bathurst 6 Hour. Photo: Submitted
FIRST PLACE: Parkes businessman Peter O'Donnell (centre) and his team Garry Mennell and Peter Johnston with the Class B1 trophy after Sunday's win at the Bathurst 6 Hour. Photo: Submitted

Parkes businessman Peter O'Donnell and his team had a plan on Sunday - the tricky part was sticking to it.

That they did, and the result? O'Donnell, sports car racer Peter Johnston and car preparer Garry Mennell walked away with first place in the Class B1 (high performance) of the Bathurst 6 Hour.

In his number 82 BMW 335i backed by Spinifex Recruiting, this was O'Donnell's third 6 Hour but his first win in the Easter long weekend race.

"Everything went according to plan," he said.

"It's my first [6 Hour] trophy, I have won twice in the 12 Hour - I've had five podiums from six starts."

O'Donnell was the lead driver, covering the first and last stints (two hours) of the race - all up, including qualifying and practice, he'd done about four hours of driving.

The team topped the class in the qualifier on Saturday and overall they came 26th.

"It was good, I'm tired - it takes a bit out of you," O'Donnell said.

"By the end of the weekend you do a lot of laps."

The BMW 335i this year carried promotional material for the 2022 Parkes Elvis Festival around the Mountain, a feature O'Donnell was quite proud of.

Fittingly next year's festival will be themed on the King's 27th film, Speedway.

The 14-year-old BMW has, O'Donnell believes, earned the title of Mt Panorama's most travelled race car.

Prior to the weekend, the venerable coupe had chalked up an amazing 19,577.163 kilometres in practice, qualifying and racing in the 12-hour and 6-hour events, as well as competing in support races and other events at the circuit.

"We cracked the 20,000 kilometres," O'Donnell said proudly.

"I had a journalist tell me I just had to get through the first 17 laps to crack [it], we have done that."

O'Donnell said their focus in the feature race was to get through the hectic 62 cars at the start before settling into a rhythm.

They did suffer two tyre blowouts, one at 240km/h.

"So it got a bit exciting there for a little bit," O'Donnell said.

"We can get up to 265km/h down the straight which is good for an old car.

"We had a particular plan which is unusual for a long race like that."

What worked in their favour, O'Donnell said, was having a team of "mature gentleman" who could focus on not "breaking the car".

"We had to resist the urge to go too fast and we did that," he said.

O'Donnell will now head off to the Apple Isle to compete in the 30th Anniversary Targa Tasmania on April 19-24 in his other BMW.

It too will be sporting the Parkes Elvis Festival logo.

It'll be the first time O'Donnell has raced in Tasmania and he's gearing up for a massive six days of competition.

He'll be entering the Rookie class.

"It's unusual to attend two big races that close to each other," O'Donnell said.

"We'll see how we go."

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