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…
|2011 SUPERCHEAP AUTO BATHURST 1000
|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|
|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 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:
|1.||TOLL HRT / Walkinsaw Performance||James Courtney||Cameron McConville|
|2.||TOLL HRT / Walkinsaw Performance||Garth Tander||Nick Percat|
|3.||Wilson Security Racing / D’Alberto||Tony D’Alberto||Dale Wood|
|4.||IRWIN Racing / Stone Brothers||Alex Davison||David Brabham|
|9.||SP Tools Racing / Stone Brothers||Shane van Gisbergen||John McIntyre|
|47.||Lucky 7 Racing / Stone Brothers||Tim Slade||Daniel Gaunt|
|5.||Orrcon Steel / FPR||Mark Winterbottom||Steven Richards|
|6.||Trading Post Racing / FPR||Will Davison||Luke Youlden|
|55.||Bottle-O Racing Team / Nash-FPR||Paul Dumbrell||Dean Canto|
|7.||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Kelly Racing||Todd Kelly||David Russell|
|11.||Pepsi Max Crew / Kelly Racing||Greg Murphy||Allan Simonsen|
|15.||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Kelly Racing||Rick Kelly||Owen Kelly|
|16.||Stratco Racing / Kelly Racing||David Reynolds||Tim Blanchard|
|8.||Team BOC / Brad Jones Racing||Jason Bright||Andrew Jones|
|14.||Jana Living / Brad Jones Racing||Jason Bargwanna||Shane Price|
|21.||Fair Dinkum Sheds / Britek||Karl Reindler||David Wall|
|12.||Westrac Racing / Triple F Racing||Dean Fiore||Michael Patrizi|
|17.||Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson||Steven Johnson||David Besnard|
|18.||Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson||James Moffat||Matt Halliday|
|19.||Mother Energy Racing / Tekno||Jonathon Webb||Richard Lyons|
|30.||Gulf Western Oil / Lucas Dumbrell||Warren Luff||Nathan Pretty|
|33.||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers||Lee Holdsworth||Greg Ritter|
|34.||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers||Michael Caruso||Marcus Marshall|
|39.||SuperCheap Auto / Paul Morris||Russell Ingall||Jack Perkins|
|49.||VIP Petfoods / Paul Morris||Steve Owen||Paul Morris|
|61.||Bundaberg / Walkinsaw Performance||Fabian Coulthard||Craig Baird|
|77.||Shannons / Kelly Racing||Grant Denyer||Cameron Waters|
|88.||Vodafone / Triple 8 Race Engineering||Jamie Whincup||Andrew Thompson|
|888.||Vodafone / Triple 8 Race Engineering||Craig Lowndes||Mark Skaife|
[Images via Flickr]