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 women working in harmony; it’s an event where many have failed and a select few legends have triumphed.
|Mount Panorama Circuit|
|Location||Bathurst, NSW||Circuit Length||6.213 km / 3.861 mi|
|Opened||1938||First ATCC Event||1963|
|Direction||Clockwise||Lap Record||2:06.2769 – David Reynolds (2016)|
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.
|2018 Australian Supercars Championship – Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000|
|Event Dates||04-07 October 2018||Format||Enduro Cup|
|Free Practice Session 1||Thu 09:35-10:35||Free Practice Session 2*||Thu 12:55-13:55|
|Free Practice Session 3||Thu 15:05-16:05||Free Practice Session 4*||Fri 08:30-09:30|
|Free Practice Session 5
||Fri 11:15-12:15||Preliminary Qualifying
|Free Practice Session 6
||Sat 10:00-11:00||Top-10 Shootout||Sat 17:10-17:55|
||Sun 08:05-08:25||Race 25 (161 laps)||Sun 11:10-18:00|
*Denotes co-driver only sessions
|2018 Australian Supercars Championship – Pirtek Enduro Cup Entry List|
|#||Team / Entry||Driver||Co-Driver|
|1.||Triple Eight Race Engineering||Jamie Whincup||Paul Dumbrell|
|2.||Walkinshaw Andretti United||Scott Pye||Warren Luff|
|5.||Tickford Racing||Mark Winterbottom||Dean Canto|
|6.||Tickford Racing||Cameron Waters||James Moffat|
|7.||Nissan Motorsport||Andre Heimgartner||Aaren Russell|
|8.||Brad Jones Racing||Nick Percat||Macauley Jones|
|9.||Erebus Motorsport||David Reynolds||Luke Youlden|
|12.||DJR Team Penske||Fabian Coulthard||Tony D’Alberto|
|14.||Brad Jones Racing||Tim Slade||Ashley Walsh|
|15.||Nissan Motorsport||Rick Kelly||Garry Jacobson|
|17.||DJR Team Penske||Scott McLaughlin||Alexandre Prémat|
|18.||Charlie Schwerkolt Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Jason Bright|
|19.||TEKNO Autosports||Jack Le Brocq||Jonathon Webb|
|21.||Tim Blanchard Racing (BJR)||Tim Blanchard||Dale Wood|
|23.||Nissan Motorsport||Michael Caruso||Dean Fiore|
|25.||Walkinshaw Andretti United||James Courtney||Jack Perkins|
|33.||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Garth Tander||Richard Muscat|
|34.||Garry Rogers Motorsport||James Golding||Chris Pither|
|35.||Matt Stone Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Bryce Fullwood|
|55.||Tickford Racing||Chaz Mostert||James Moffat|
|56.||Tickford Racing||Richie Stanaway||Steve Owen|
|78.||Nissan Motorsport||Simona de Silvestro||Alex Rullo|
|97.||Triple Eight Race Engineering||Shane van Gisbergen||Earl Bamber|
|99.||Erebus Motorsport||Anton de Pasquale||Will Brown|
|230.||23Red Racing||Will Davison||Alex Davison|
|888.||Triple Eight Race Engineering||Craig Lowndes||Steven Richards|
Rewind to 2017
After a record-breaking qualifying session, Scott McLaughlin took pole for the Bathurst 1000 with a Top-10 Shootout time of 2:03.8, the fastest lap in the history of Bathurst in a Supercar. He pipped David Reynolds to the pole with Mark Winterbottom ending up third on the grid.
With dry running throughout the weekend, rain started to fall just as the grid was getting ready for the start. A switch to wet tyres for the field was in order as they prepared to take on the 161-lap endurance race.
A tardy start for McLaughlin and Reynolds saw Winterbottom try to get between them both going in to Turn 1, resulting in contact from which all three cars survived. McLaughlin led the way on Lap 1 but spun at Murray’s Corner on the second lap, losing the lead and dropping a handful of spots.
Despite the wet conditions, the main drivers in the first stint and a majority of co-drivers in the second stanza managed to minimise the drama. Matt Campbell, driving with Shane van Gisbergen, had a tough initiation to the category in only his second start, spinning at The Cutting just after he jumped aboard the #97 Red Bull Holden Racing Team Commodore.
The first Safety Car was deployed after the pole-sitting #17 car stopped on the run up to The Cutting on lap 76 with Alex Prémat behind the wheel. Sounding like a bag of bolts for the preceding 20 laps, a mechanical failure ruled the championship leading car out of the biggest race of the year.
McLaughlin’s title rival Jamie Whincup suffered a similar engine issue later in the race but was able to get it repaired after dropping a few laps, ending up as a classified finisher which eventually resulted in his seventh championship title.
A host of drivers could have won the race, including Shane van Gisbergen, Garth Tander, Chaz Mostert and Cam Waters but crashes – sometimes with each other – or mistimed Safety Cars shuffled the order late in the race.
Gutsy moves in the final hour saw David Reynolds take the lead for Erebus Motorsport, staying in the top position until the chequered flag. It was his first win with the team after departing Prodrive Racing Australia at the end of 2015 as well as the first victory for Erebus since the same year with Will Davison.
The Form Guide
Despite the history and pedigree of the endurance classic, the Bathurst 1000 is still part of a much wider championship that has provided good action so far this season.
Seven-time title winner Jamie Whincup is the hot tip to win the Bathurst 1000 this year with co-driver Paul Dumbrell. A winner of 112 championship races including four wins at Mount Panorama (the last coming in 2012), Whincup is without doubt the best driver in Supercars history while Dumbrell has shown himself as one of the most consistent co-drivers in the paddock.
Whincup’s team-mate Shane van Gisbergen is the man of the season, leading the championship standings and stretching his margin at the Sandown 500. The 2016 series champion is yet to taste success in the Bathurst 1000, coming a close second in his championship year as well as dramatically losing the lead in 2014 when he stalled in the pits. In an all-Kiwi car, van Gisbergen will be teamed up with reigning World Endurance Champion and two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Earl Bamber who proved his worth at Sandown and has two class wins at Bathurst in the 12 Hour GT race.
New Zealand has a lot of horses in this year’s race with Scott McLaughlin looking to put in a more complete weekend than last year after a record-breaking pole position turned into a mechanical DNF. This year he has the most race wins so far of any driver but with the recent form of Triple Eight, he lost the championship lead at The Bend in South Australia.
Defending Bathurst champions David Reynolds and Luke Youlden pulled off one of the great Bathurst upsets last year, winning on genuine pace rather than luck in a classic marathon in the rain. Reynolds is the loveable larrikin of the paddock, a joker who is serious behind the wheel. His two wins so far this year have been the strongest performances from the ‘best of the rest’ in a season seemingly controlled by Triple Eight and DJR Team Penske.
Finally, the old guard will be making their last stand at Bathurst in a more permanent capacity. With over 1,000 Supercars race starts between them, Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards are without doubt the most experienced – if not oldest – pairing on the grid for this year’s Bathurst 1000. The dynamic duo won their tenth combined Bathurst 1000 in 2015 and showed good form at Sandown, coming home third.
Images via Keith McInness Photography