A satisfied Tony Bates has described today’s Challenge Bathurst outing as his best-ever performance at Mount Panorama, after punching out a scorching 2:07.4 lap time aboard his Bostik Audi R8.

The former Carrera Cup Pro-Am Champion was confident of improving upon the 2:08 he achieved yesterday, but explained this morning’s first session did not go according to plan.

“In our program, we had planned to use a brand-new set of tyres for the morning session, because that’s when we felt the track would be at its fastest,” Bates said.

“Unfortunately, there were a few red flag interruptions during the session, which meant we weren’t able to maximise the performance of the fresh tyres.

“However, I was very confident with the car and I knew there was a good time on the cards in the last session.”

Bates’ confidence was backed up by his performance; in the afternoon session, he became progressively faster and recorded the 2:07.4 on his second-last lap – an outstanding performance on used tyres in hot conditions.

“The last run was sensational, it was as good as I have driven around the circuit,” Bates said.

“The car was just awesome, I’m extremely happy with the improvements made by the Melbourne Performance Centre crew. My engineer Adam De Borre nailed the setup and it felt absolutely planted to the road – I had total confidence to push to the limits across the top of the Mountain.

Bates said his participation at Challenge Bathurst was the ideal way to complete a difficult season.

“Obviously 2020 hasn’t gone according to plan for anyone and for me, it was an absolute priority to get back in the car and do some laps to ensure I’m sharp for 2021,” Bates said.

“It was the first time in around 12 months I had driven a race car without being affected by ailments, such as the neck and hamstring injuries that affected me last year. It was the best I had felt in the car for some time.

“The Challenge Bathurst exercise was well worthwhile; it allowed me to do some more laps around Australia’s best circuit, while also enabling us to learn more about the car and hone my driving technique. It’s given us some strong momentum to carry into next season.”

Bates’ full plans for the 2021 season will be announced shortly.