The most eagerly awaited race of the Australian Supercars Championship round is finally upon us.
|Location||Bathurst, New South Wales||Circuit Length||6.213 km|
|Direction||Anticlockwise||Race Lap Record||2:06.149 – David Reynolds 2018|
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.
|2019 Australian Supercars Championship – Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000|
|Event Dates||10-13 October 2019||Format||Enduro Cup|
|Free Practice Session 1||Thu 09:55-10:55||Free Practice Session 2*||Thu 12:45-13:45|
|Free Practice Session 3||Thu 16:00-17:00||Free Practice Session 4*||Fri 08:25-09:25|
|Free Practice Session 5||Fri 11:05-12:05||Preliminary Qualifying||Sat 16:00-16:40|
|Free Practice Session 6||Sat 09:40-10:10||Free Practice Session 7*||Sat 12:10-12:40|
|Top-10 Shootout||Sat 17:05-17:50||Warm-Up Session||Sun 08:20-08:40|
|Race 25 (161 laps)||Sun 11:30-18:30|
Session times quoted in Australian Eastern Daylight Time (UTC/GMT + 11:00)
Rewind to 2018
Last year’s Bathurst 1000 saw the veteran duo of Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards claim a fairytale victory for Triple Eight Race Engineering, marking a fitting final win in Lowndes’ full-time touring car career ahead of his retirement at the end of the season.
David Reynolds and co-driver Luke Youlden lead for over 80% of the race before Reynolds was forced to hand back control of his Erebus Motorsport Holden to Youlden after succumbing to severe cramps.
With 27 laps remaining, Lowndes took the lead and went on to achieve his seventh Bathurst 1000 win and the Peter Brock Trophy ahead of the fellow Commodore of Scott Pye and Warren Luff who secured a rare podium for the Walkinshaw Andretti United stable. Rounding out the top-three was the DJR Team Penske Ford Mustang of Scott McLaughlin and Alex Prémat.
Pre-race favourites Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell saw their chances of victory slip away early due to a loose wheel parting from the Red Bull Holden Racing Team Commodore following a pit stop.
The second Walkinshaw Andretti United Holden of James Courtney and co-driver Jack Perkins was forced to retire prematurely due to an oil issue. Former Bathurst winners Tickford Racing also had dramas with Cam Waters and Chaz Mostert making contact, causing Mostert to finish well down the order.
|2019 Australian Supercars Championship – Bathurst 1000 Entry List|
|#||Team / Entry||Driver||Co-Driver|
|2.||Walkinshaw Andretti United||Scott Pye||Warren Luff|
|3.||Kelly Racing||Garry Jacobson||Dean Fiore|
|5.||Tickford Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Thomas Randle|
|6.||Tickford Racing||Cameron Waters||Michael Caruso|
|7.||Kelly Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Bryce Fulwood|
|8.||Brad Jones Racing||Nick Percat||Tim Blanchard|
|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.||Kelly Racing||Rick Kelly||Dale Wood|
|17.||DJR Team Penske||Scott McLaughlin||Alexandre Prémat|
|18.||Charlie Schwerkolt Racing||Mark Winterbottom||Steven Richards|
|19.||TEKNO Autosports||Jack Le Brocq||Jonathon Webb*|
|21.||Tim Blanchard Racing (BJR)||Macauley Jones||Dean Canto|
|22.||Walkinshaw Andretti United||James Courtney||Jack Perkins|
|23.||23Red Racing||Will Davison||Alex Davison|
|27.||Walkinshaw Andretti United^||Alexander Rossi||James Hinchcliffe|
|33.||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Richie Stanaway||Chris Pither|
|34.||Garry Rogers Motorsport||James Golding||Richard Muscat|
|35.||Matt Stone Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Jack Smith|
|55.||Tickford Racing||Chaz Mostert||James Moffat|
|56.||Kostecki Brothers Racing^||Brodie Kostecki||Jake Kostecki|
|78.||Kelly Racing||Simona de Silvestro||Alex Rullo|
|88.||Triple Eight Race Engineering||Jamie Whincup||Craig Lowndes|
|97.||Triple Eight Race Engineering||Shane van Gisbergen||Garth Tander|
|99.||Erebus Motorsport||Anton de Pasquale||Will Brown|
^ Wildcard entry
The Form Guide
Series leader Scott McLaughlin has dominated the season thus far with his 598-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings equating to almost two full rounds. With a maximum of 300 points up for grabs this weekend, the New Zealander can afford to go for broke in an event where he has been historically unlucky.
If previous experience is anything to go by, the favourites for this year’s race is the Triple 8 duo of Jamie Whincup and defending race-winner Craig Lowndes who reunite as a driver pairing for the first time since 2009. The duo has combined to claim three successive Bathurst 1000 victories between 2007-2009 and a fourth could well be on the cards.
On the other side of the garage, the team’s other combination of Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander are also major contenders to win at The Mountain.
McLaughlin and his co-driver Alexandre Prémat will join forces once again to pilot the #17 Shell V-Power DJR Team Penske Ford Mustang, which has consistently been the fastest car in 2019. It will be the Mustang’s first outing at Mount Panorama, with a potential unknown being how the car will perform with the parity adjustments handed out before the previous Auckland SuperSprint round.
Keep an eye out for the Tickford Racing duo of Chaz Mostert and James Moffat in the Supercheap Auto sponsored Mustang. Mostert has been a star performer for the Tickford stable in what has been a hit-and-miss season for the team – he is a former Bathurst 1000 winner in 2014 but threw away a shot at victory last year when he took out teammate Cam Waters.
Back for another crack at victory is the Erebus Motorsport paring of David Reynolds and Luke Youlden. The duo dominated last year’s race until Reynolds succumbed to severe muscle cramps, which destroyed the pairing’s shot at back-to-back victories. The memories of last year will be the motivation Reynolds needs to get back on the top step of the podium.
Image via Supercars