The Bathurst 1000 is the Holy Grail of Australian motorsport; a race that stops the country in its tracks.
A true test of machines, racing men and – for the first time since 1998 – women working in harmony; it’s an event where many have failed and a select few legends have triumphed.
|2015 V8 Supercars Championship – SuperCheap Auto Bathurst 1000|
|Date||8-11 October 2015||Lap Length||6.213km|
|Free Practice Session 1||Thu 11:15-12:00||Free Practice Session 2*||Thu 13:20-14:05|
|Free Practice Session 3||Thu 15:20-16:05||Free Practice Session 4*||Fri 09:10-09:55|
|Free Practice Session 5||Fri 11:40-12:25||Qualifying||Fri 15:50-16:30|
|Free Practice Session 6||Sat 10:15-11:00||Top-10 Shootout||Sat 17:10-17:55|
|Race 24 (161 laps)||Sun 08:25-08:45||Race 25 (161 laps)||Sun 11:00-18:00|
* Open to Pirtek Enduro Cup co-drivers only
Session times quoted in Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time (GMT +11:00)
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.
Rewind to 2014
Ford Performance Racing won back-to-back Bathurst 1000 crowns, with Chaz Mostert and co-driver Paul Morris taking an extraordinary victory from last place on the grid, sealing the win by overtaking an out-of-fuel Jamie Whincup on the last lap of a truly thrilling race.
The pair finished ahead of James Moffat and Taz Douglas (Nissan Motorsport), and Nick Percat and Oliver Gavin (James Rosenberg Racing Holden).
Whincup and co-driver Paul Dumbrell looked on course to win, but Whincup ignored repeated pleas from his team to conserve fuel in the final laps and ultimately his Holden coughed to a crawl on the final lap at Forrest’s Elbow. He managed to stagger over the line to finish fifth.
Pole-winners Shane van Gisbergen and Jonathon Webb (TEKNO Autosports Holden) were in contention all day until disaster struck at the final pit stop when van Gisbergen stalled his car and it would not restart.
Fellow New Zealander Scott McLaughlin was also in the mix to nab the win for Volvo – he and co-driver Alexandre Prémat led the most laps of the race – but the youngster crashed out after being passed by van Gisbergen.
There were troubles for other fancied runners. David Reynolds (runner-up in 2012) and co-driver Dean Canto were struck with an alternator failure in their Bottle-O Racing Ford while running in second place, while Red Bull Racing’s Craig Lowndes was handed a drive-through penalty in the closing stages of the race for tipping 2013 winner Mark Winterbottom into a spin at the final restart. They finished tenth and sixth respectively, damaging their slim championship hopes.
The Holden Racing Team also had a nightmare weekend. The #2 car of Garth Tander and Warren Luff was withdrawn from the event after a massive accident in Saturday’s practice session, while the sister #22 entry of James Courtney and Greg Murphy was struck with electrical gremlins for much of the race.
The race ran just short of eight hours – the longest timed race in the event’s history – which included a one-hour red flag while urgent track repairs were carried out at Turn 2.
|2015 V8 Supercars Championship – Pirtek Enduro Cup Driver Pairings|
|#||Team / Entry||Lead Driver||Co-Driver|
|1.||Triple Eight Race Engineering||Jamie Whincup||Paul Dumbrell|
|2.||Red Bull Racing Australia||Garth Tander||Warren Luff|
|3.||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||Tim Blanchard||Karl Reindler|
|4.||Erebus Motorsport V8||Ashley Walsh||Jack Le Brocq|
|5.||Prodrive Racing Australia||Mark Winterbottom||Steve Owen|
|6.||Prodrive Racing Australia||Chaz Mostert||Cameron Waters|
|7.||Nissan Motorsport||Todd Kelly||Alex Buncombe|
|8.||Brad Jones Racing||Jason Bright||Andrew Jones|
|9.||Erebus Motorsport V8||Will Davison||Alex Davison|
|14.||Brad Jones Racing||Fabian Coulthard||Luke Youlden|
|15.||Nissan Motorsport||Rick Kelly||David Russell|
|17.||DJR Team Penske||Scott Pye||Marcos Ambrose|
|18.||Charlie Schwerkolt Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Sébastien Bourdais|
|21.||Brad Jones Racing||Dale Wood||Macauley Jones|
|22.||Holden Racing Team||Jack Perkins||Russell Ingall|
|23.||Nissan Motorsport||Michael Caruso||Dean Fiore|
|33.||Volvo Polestar Racing||Scott McLaughlin||Alexandre Prémat|
|34.||Volvo Polestar Racing||David Wall||Chris Pither|
|47.||Walkinshaw Racing||Tim Slade||Tony D’Alberto|
|55.||Rod Nash Racing||David Reynolds||Dean Canto|
|62.||Novocastrian Motorsport*||Aaren Russell||Drew Russell|
|97.||TEKNO Autosports||Shane van Gisbergen||Jonathon Webb|
|99.||Nissan Motorsport||James Moffat||Taz Douglas|
|111.||Super Black Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Ant Pedersen|
|200.||Harvey Norman Supergirls*||Simona de Silvestro||Renee Gracie|
|222.||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||Nick Percat||Oliver Gavin|
|888.||Triple Eight Race Engineering||Craig Lowndes||Steven Richards|
* Denotes wildcard entry
Facts & Stats
- This year’s event will mark the 55th running of the classic 1000-kilometre endurance race. Holden is the most successful marque with 30 wins, with its last coming in 2012.
- Prodrive Racing Australia will be aiming for its third straight SuperCheap Auto Bathurst 1000 triumph after successive victories – under its previous guise of Ford Performance Racing – in 2013 and 2014.
- With 12 visits to the rostrum at ‘The Mountain’, Red Bull Racing’s Craig Lowndes – who is also a five-time winner here – is the joint record-holder for podium finishes alongside the late Peter Brock, Jim Richards and Larry Perkins. One more podium finish will give him the outright record.
- Holden and Ford jointly share the most number of Bathurst 1000 pole positions, with 21 apiece.
- Should Chaz Mostert successfully defend his Bathurst 1000 crown, he and co-driver Cameron Waters will become the youngest ever driver pairing to win the event, at age 23 and 21 respectively. It would beat the record currently held by Craig Lowndes (then 22) and Greg Murphy (24) when they claimed victory in 1996.
- For the first time in 31 years, three sets of brothers will line up on the grid: Will and Alex Davison (Erebus Motorsport), Rick and Todd Kelly (Nissan Motorsport) and wildcards Drew and Aaren Russell (Novocastrian Motorsport).
- This year’s event is the first since 1998 that an all-female driver pairing will contest the Bathurst 1000. IndyCar and Formula E racer Simona de Silvestro will partner Dunlop Series rookie Renee Gracie in the wildcard Harvey Norman Supergirls entry, run by Prodrive Racing Australia. The last time a woman raced at the Bathurst 1000 was in 2009, when Leanne Tander (the wife of Garth Tander) served as a co-driver.
- This year’s field will see four international drivers in the field: four-time ChampCar title-winner Sébastien Bourdais (Charlie Schwerkolt Racing), sports car racers Alex Buncombe (Nissan Motorsport) and Oliver Gavin (Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport) and the aforementioned de Silvestro.
- Seven drivers will be making their Bathurst 1000 debut, including the aforementioned Bourdais, de Silvestro and Gracie, as well as Jack Le Brocq (Erebus Motorsport), Macauley Jones (Brad Jones Racing) and brothers Aaren and Drew Russell (Novocastrian Motorsport).
The Form Guide
This year’s Bathurst 1000 will see a field of 27 cars and 54 drivers vying to claim the Peter Brock Trophy and etch their name in motorsport history.
The Bathurst 1000 has created many legends over its history – last year’s race will perhaps go down as one of the most extraordinary ever – and this year’s event will be no different.
There are a number of contenders who would fancy their chances on Sunday’s 161-lap race, and the form guide would suggest that the Prodrive Racing Australia Fords of Mark Winterbottom/Steve Owen and Chaz Mostert/Cameron Waters will head into this weekend as the likely favourites. The two cars have claimed victory 15 of the last 18 races this season to run a comfortable 1-2 in the championship standings.
The duo – along with the third car of David Reynolds/Dean Canto – is armed with the best car in the field, but ‘The Mountain’ has a habit of throwing up plenty of drama, meaning victory is by no means certain.
Interestingly, the #1 Red Bull Racing entry of reigning champion Jamie Whincup and co-driver Paul Dumbrell are considered the favourites among the bookmakers, despite Whincup winning just three races this season and languishing a distant eighth in the championship standings. The pair famously missed out on victory last year when Whincup ignored fervent calls from his engineers to save fuel.
Whincup’s teammate Craig Lowndes – who remains the most serious threat to stop one of the Prodrive cars from taking the 2015 championship title – will also be considered a victory contender alongside co-driver Steven Richards. The series veteran has won the event five times and finished on the podium in seven of the last ten events here.
The Holden Racing Team will be pinning its hopes on its #2 entry of Garth Tander and Warren Luff to keep it in the mix, although the second #22 car of former champion Russell Ingall (substituting for the injured James Courtney) and Jack Perkins could spring a surprise as well.
Don’t discount the likes of New Zealanders Scott McLaughlin (Volvo Polestar Racing), Shane van Gisbergen (TEKNO Autosports Holden) and Fabian Coulthard (Brad Jones Racing Holden) either; Coulthard was fastest of all across Friday’s three practice sessions and broke his own lap record in the process.
This year’s event will be bolstered by the presence of two wildcard entries. Dunlop Series outfit Novocastrian Motorsport will be cutting its teeth in the big league with brothers Aaren and Drew Russell, and both will be hopeful of bringing the car to the finish.
Much of the media spotlight, however, sits on the sister wildcard Harvey Norman Supergirls entry featuring an all-female line-up of Simona de Silvestro and Renee Gracie. The ladies are armed with a Ford Falcon FG X prepared by Prodrive Racing, and de Silvestro has already shown impressive speed in Friday’s practice by lapping within 3.7 seconds of Couthard’s record-breaking pace on her first ever outing at Mount Panorama.
Images via Christian Hartung and V8 Supercars Championship