NO expense has been spared to bring Mercedes-AMG’s week-long driver event to Mount Panorama, and Bathurst will reap the benefits.
Organisers expect the AMG Challenge Bathurst will have a multi-million dollar impact on the city’s economy.
Mercedes has brought 70 cars valued at a total of $13 million to Bathurst for the launch of the AMG GT S and the AMG C 63 S.
Three hundred customers, 100 staff, 50 dealers and 20 media representatives from Australia and New Zealand are either here or on their way to Bathurst for the opportunity to get a first look at the luxury sports cars.
The AMG C 63 S will set motorists back $154,000, while the AMG GT S will sell for $300,000.
Mercedes-Benz public relations officer David McCarthy said Bathurst Regional Council’s assistance in bringing the event to Bathurst cannot be underestimated.
Mercedes has essentially booked out Rydges Mount Panorama and has worked with Virgin Australia to run charter flights to Bathurst from Sydney to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Over the next four days, 300 customers will have the opportunity to drive not only the new models, but the rest of the AMG range as well.
Every customer and special guest will have an AMG Academy instructor by their side when they pull out onto the track.
The instructors are all professional racing drivers who understand the challenges of driving on the iconic circuit.
Mr McCarthy said it is the instructor’s job to help participants understand the degree of difficulty they will face at each section of the circuit and to keep everyone safe.
He said there will be some big names taking part in the driver event over the next few days, including five-times World Moto GP champion Mick Doohan. Doohan is an AMG ambassador.
Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti will be attending in recognition of the airline’s commitment to getting participants to Bathurst, and celebrity chef Shane Delia will also be driving as a guest of Mercedes-AMG.
Mr McCarthy said DTM champion Bernd Schneider will do a couple of fast laps with the winner of an auction to raise money for the group’s official charity Brainwave (which supports children with neurological conditions, as well as their families and carers).
As an indication of how much money has been spent on the event by Mercedes, two of the garages in the pit complex have been transformed into a luxury hospitality area with cosy heating, artworks, designer floor rugs, lamps, tables, comfy sofas and a top-of-the-range espresso machine and cafe.
“For us this is a very big event,” Mr McCarthy said.
“Council has been fantastic. We really appreciate how co-operative they have been. It was a genuine pleasure to work with them.
“Driving an AMG on a racetrack is a very big thing, but driving one around Mount Panorama – well, you can’t beat that.”
Mercedes-Benz general manager of sales Brad Kelly said Mercedes launched the predecessor of the C 63 S at Mount Panorama eight years ago and it was such a success that the decision was made to return.
“We could have done this anywhere. We chose to do it here,” he said.
Words by Louise Eddy
Originally posted on Western Advocate 14 July 2015