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.

The Circuit

Mount Panorama Circuit

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.

Mark Winterbottom & Dean Canto, Prodrive Racing Australia Ford - 2017 Bathurst 1000

Mount Panorama’s iconic downhill Esses and Dipper sequence is a true challenge in the dry and utterly terrifying in the wet…

The Event

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
Fri 15:50-16:30
Free Practice Session 6
Sat 10:00-11:00 Top-10 Shootout Sat 17:10-17:55
Warm-Up Session
Sun 08:05-08:25 Race 25 (161 laps) Sun 11:10-18:00

*Denotes co-driver only sessions

The Runners

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.

Luke Youlden & David Reynolds, Erebus Motorsport Holden VF Commodore - 2017 Bathurst 1000

Luke Youlden and David Reynolds claimed a shock win for Erebus Motorsport at last year’s Bathurst 1000.

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

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Jordan Mulach

Journalist at MotorsportM8
Canberra born and raised journalist, living in Brisbane. Sports Media graduate from the University of Canberra. iRacing addict