As far as 16th birthdays go, Tyson Harvey enjoyed one which was the envy of many – racing at the 2017 Bathurst 6 Hour.
Harvey became one of the youngest people to race at Mount Panorama, and is one of the first graduates to have come out of the Ricciardo’s Racers programme.
Speed Read: How did the Bathurst 6 Hour drive come about?
Tyson Harvey: Stephenson Motorsport had a drive available, and after one of their 3 drivers pulled out I jumped at the chance to drive at the best track in Australia.
SR: What were your preparations for the 6 Hour drive?
TH: Mount Panorama is a physical track so I began running, doing cardio work and a strength program three months out to make sure I wasn’t physically exhausted in the car.
I did not turn to simulators in an attempt of learning the track, as I find the best practice for new tracks is being there and driving them as I adapt to new tracks in a session or two.
I did spend some time watching various drivers in car footage on the internet studying the track, apexes, lines and braking points.
Myself and the Stephenson Motorsport Team also practiced at Mallala Motor Sport Park testing setups and the new national spec Excel car, where we also practiced driver changes and pit stops so we were all ready for the big race.
SR: How did the 6 Hour go for you? Both in terms of results, but also being able to experience a track like Mt Panorama?
TH: In terms of results, we started off in 65th place and finished in 42nd place - only 13 laps down from the eventual winners which was an amazing result considering we had the most underpowered car on the circuit.
All of our drivers and team did an incredible job, and the feeling of us finishing was something we will never forget.
Personally, I found the track at first very daunting. After my first few laps I could understand why I was told by more experienced Bathurst drivers to ‘Respect the track’ as the tight uphill and downhill sections, and high speed straights had no room for error.
Eventually I became more comfortable in the seat and by the end of my second hour driver stint I was feeling withdrawal symptoms.
Growing up watching Bathurst was great as a kid but I never thought that I would be driving it, especially on my 16th birthday and taking the title for youngest person in history to race Mount Panorama.
SR: When/where did you first attend the Ricciardo’s Racers programme? And what did you get out of it?
TH: I attended a Ricciardo’s Racers day with Tony D’Alberto, Karl Reindler and Micheal Almond which was a great experience. Michael checks in on me at Mallala when he can with his busy schedule, and I recently caught up with Karl at the Bathurst 6 Hour for some valuable tips prior to my first practice.
By mid-2015 I had moved across to Circuit Excel and my dad strapped me into a car for the first time at Mallala Motor Sport Park, and I learnt to drive a car during practice for a State Championship round of Masters of Mallala round three. I ended up finishing 16th out of 23 cars from that event.
SR: What are some other motor sport career aspirations that you would to achieve?
TH: Short term I would like to get back to race Bathurst as soon as possible in whatever I can, we are also working on building a Subaru WRX GC8 for Improved Production which will be ready during 2017.
2018 will see us in Circuit Excel Series, Improved Production in the GC8, the Bathurst 6 hour once again, other Production Series races, and we are looking at other opportunities as they arise. My main goal is to drive Porsche Challenge Cup / Carrera Cup / Australian GT Championship and more Endurance racing worldwide.
SR: What are your racing plans for the rest of the year?
TH: I will be finishing off the Circuit Excel State Championship in SA and possibly an interstate round, driving the WRX GC8 in an Improved Production for a round or two, Challenge Bathurst and we are looking at completing a Porsche GT3 test soon.
Ricciardo's Racers will visit South Australia and Western Australia this month, with several more events throughout 2017 across Australia. Find out your nearest event and sign up today by clicking this link.