Racing on the country’s most prestigious track was not something Benalla’s Ellexandra Best expected she would do in her wildest dreams.
And yet last weekend it happened.
Ellexandra, 18, competed in the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6-Hour race, and says she is still in a state of disbelief after her first outing ever at Mount Panorama, in Bathurst.
The race coincided with the 80th anniversary of racing on the world-famous track.
Ellexandra teamed up with Lauren Gray Motorsport in a Toyota Corolla Sportive in Class D, alongside teammates Michael Gray and Ken Filbey, to tear around the 6.3km track.
During qualifying, the LGM team placed seventh in class and 51st outright out of 64 cars.
On race day, Gray started the race, which was a rolling start. During his stint there were several safety-car periods because of on-track incidents.
The team took advantage of these and completed two mandatory pit stops, along with changes to tyres and fuel top-ups.
After 90 minutes, Filbey took over from Gray, before handing over to Ellexandra to complete the mid-parts of the race.
The Benalla driver had a few laps under the safety-car period before settling into a rhythm.
The most difficult part, she said, was coming through Brock skyline, downhill on the S-bends.
‘‘I just couldn’t get a clean run as their was always traffic,” she said.
Ellexandra had to drive with the heater on for her two-hour stint to prevent the car from over-heating.
‘‘I managed to stay out of trouble, brought the car in straight and maintaining third in class before handing it over to Michael,’’ she said.
After 101 laps, Michael crossed the finished line 26th outright and third in class.
‘‘It was amazing to have conquered Mount Panorama on my first attempt. It was a privilege to have been able to drive on the world’s most renowned track.
‘‘I couldn’t have done it without the help of my sponsors... my teammates Michael Gray and Ken Filbey and team LGM pitcher, and my parents,’’ Ellexandra said.
Two hours of highlights of the Hi-Tech Bathurst six hour race will air on SBS Speedweek, from 1pm this Sunday.