Tony Bates has returned to the wheel of his Bostik Audi R8 GT3 for the first time since February’s Bathurst 12 Hour, competing in the GT SuperSprint sessions at Challenge Bathurst.

Bates completed a pair of 60 minute sessions today, with a further two sessions to be held tomorrow.

Bates’ excitement about returning to the driver’s seat was evident as soon as he hit the track; in the first session, he was immediately on the pace, recording 2:08 lap times around the Mountain.

The overall times in the day’s second session were slower due to increasing temperatures, but Bates was still fastest in his class despite encountering traffic on his best lap.

After nine months away from the sport, Bates was thrilled to be back in the car and said the event is proving to be a valuable learning exercise.

“It’s been too long since I’ve driven the Bostik Audi, but what better place to break the drought than the country’s best motor racing circuit!” Bates said.

“We saw Challenge Bathurst as a prime opportunity to accumulate laps at the Mountain and fine-tune some aspects of my driving.

“We’ve already made some great progress today. I’m fortunate enough to have Adam De Borre as my engineer and he’s doing an excellent job optimising the car setup and my driving technique.”

With temperatures in Bathurst likely to exceed 30 degrees tomorrow, Bates is expecting the fastest times to be set early in the day.

“We saw today that the track became slower in the afternoon due to the heat, so I think tomorrow morning’s session will be the optimum stage to push for a fast time. I can’t wait to bolt some green tyres on and have a crack at it,” he concluded.