2011 SuperCheap Auto Bathurst 1000

Dubbed ‘The Great Race’ for a very obvious reason, the Bathurst 1000 is one of Australian greatest annual motorsport events, held every year at the iconic Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst.

This year’s instalment will see a field of 29 cars and driver pairings do battle over a 161-lap marathon race, which will be a crucial chapter in the championship fight between Triple 8 team-mates Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes.

Richard’s F1 previews this weekend’s action and takes a look at some of the talking points leading into the event…


The Circuit

Mount Panorama Circuit Map
Date: 6-9 October 2011 Lap Length: 6.213km
Race Lap Record: 2:08.4651, Jamie Whincup (Ford Falcon BF) – 2007
Event Schedule: Free Practice Session 1 (All Drivers) Thu 10:40-11:30
Free Practice Session 2 (Co-Drivers) Thu 12:55-13:40
Free Practice Session 3 (All Drivers) Thu 15:05-15:55
Free Practice Session 4 (Co-Drivers) Fri 09:25-10:10
Free Practice Session 5 (All Drivers) Fri 11:00-11:50
Qualifying Fri 14:45-15:25
Free Practice Session 6 (All Drivers) Sat 10:25-11:15
Top-10 Qualifying Shootout Sat 15:45-16:30
Race Warm Up Sun 07:45-08:05
Feature Race (161 laps, 1000km) Sun 10:30-17:30

Located just south of the central New South Wales town of Bathurst, the Mount Panorama circuit is one of the most recognised motor racing venues in the country, and is truly regarded as a Mecca of Motorsport.

Nicknamed ‘The Mountain’, the track design is unusual by modern standards, with a 174-metre vertical difference between the track’s lowest and highest points, with gradient changes being as steep as 1:6 in some parts.

The flat-out blasts along Mountain and Conrod straights will see the cars reach speeds of close to 300km/h, while the twistier section along the top of the escarpment is a supreme test of driver skill: the walls are so close in parts that a slight error can prove catastrophic to a driver’s race.

The very first race held at the circuit was the 1938 Australian Grand Prix, and since then, the venue has gone on to host some of the biggest races in the country.


A look back at 2010

It was another classic Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, which was Craig Lowndes complete much of the driving to lead home a 1-2 finish for Triple 8 TeamVodafone. It was the team’s fourth Bathurst victory in the past five years and just the third time in the event’s history that a team has taken a 1-2 finish.

The victory gave Skaife his sixth Bathurst victory, on a day where Holden once again took a clean sweep of the podium positions. Ford started from pole position thanks to Mark Winterbottom, however co-driver Luke Youlden suffered a delaminated tyre and they eventually finished ninth.

Garth Tander and Cam McConville overcame all sorts of problems – a hit with the wall, a narrow escape with an errant kangaroo and the driver’s door falling off at a pit stop – to take third place in the HRT Holden, while title leader James Courtney overcame an early front splitter breakage to take fifth spot in his Dick Johnson Racing Ford.


The Players

The driver pairings for the Bathurst 1000 are essentially the same as those seen at the previous championship round, the L&H500 at Phillip Island.

There are just a couple of changes of note. Tony D’Alberto will be back behind the wheel of his Wilson Security Ford after being sidelined at the L&H 500 with chickenpox, his place was capably occupied by Fujitsu V8 Series driver Taz Douglas.

The other change – or rather, addition – is a fifth Holden Commodore being entered by the Kelly Racing stable, with brothers Todd and Rick Kelly appointing teenage driver Cameron Waters as the competition winner to co-drive with occasional V8 peddler and TV personality Grant Denyer. Waters, 17, was deemed the best entrant in the Kelly brothers’ Shannons Supercar Showdown reality TV series that was run in the weeks leading up to the competition.

With the last championship round being won by the Triple 8 pairing of Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife – who also claimed the honours at last year’s Bathurst 1000 – they will be looking to repeat the effort to help Lowndes close down the 92-point gap to the championship leader, Lowndes’ team-mate Jamie Whincup.

There’s a maximum 300 championship points up for grabs, and with this weekend’s 161-lap being a supreme test of man and machine, there’s every possibility that Lowndes could claim the championship lead, or that Whincup could extend his points’ gap.

The final entry list reads as follows:

Team Driver Co-Driver
1. TOLL HRT / Walkinsaw Performance Holden James Courtney Cameron McConville
2. TOLL HRT / Walkinsaw Performance Holden Garth Tander Nick Percat
3. Wilson Security Racing / D’Alberto Ford Tony D’Alberto Dale Wood
4. IRWIN Racing / Stone Brothers Ford Alex Davison David Brabham
9. SP Tools Racing / Stone Brothers Ford Shane van Gisbergen John McIntyre
47. Lucky 7 Racing / Stone Brothers Ford Tim Slade Daniel Gaunt
5. Orrcon Steel / FPR Ford Mark Winterbottom Steven Richards
6. Trading Post Racing / FPR Ford Will Davison Luke Youlden
55. Bottle-O Racing Team / Nash-FPR Ford Paul Dumbrell Dean Canto
7. Jack Daniel’s Racing / Kelly Racing Holden Todd Kelly David Russell
11. Pepsi Max Crew / Kelly Racing Holden Greg Murphy Allan Simonsen
15. Jack Daniel’s Racing / Kelly Racing Holden Rick Kelly Owen Kelly
16. Stratco Racing / Kelly Racing Holden David Reynolds Tim Blanchard
8. Team BOC / Brad Jones Racing Holden Jason Bright Andrew Jones
14. Jana Living / Brad Jones Racing Holden Jason Bargwanna Shane Price
21. Fair Dinkum Sheds / Britek Holden Karl Reindler David Wall
12. Westrac Racing / Triple F Racing Ford Dean Fiore Michael Patrizi
17. Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Ford Steven Johnson David Besnard
18. Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Ford James Moffat Matt Halliday
19. Mother Energy Racing / Tekno Ford Jonathon Webb Richard Lyons
30. Gulf Western Oil / Lucas Dumbrell Holden Warren Luff Nathan Pretty
33. Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Holden Lee Holdsworth Greg Ritter
34. Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Holden Michael Caruso Marcus Marshall
39. SuperCheap Auto / Paul Morris Holden Russell Ingall Jack Perkins
49. VIP Petfoods / Paul Morris Holden Steve Owen Paul Morris
61. Bundaberg / Walkinsaw Performance Holden Fabian Coulthard Craig Baird
77. Shannons / Kelly Racing Holden Grant Denyer Cameron Waters
88. Vodafone / Triple 8 Race Engineering Holden Jamie Whincup Andrew Thompson
888. Vodafone / Triple 8 Race Engineering Holden Craig Lowndes Mark Skaife

 [Images via Flickr]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.