It’s the race that stops the nation or at least the motorsport fanatics.
The Bathurst 1000. The Great Race. Mount Panorama.
The first race of the endurance season and it’s the toughest one yet.
With the final test day out of the way, all the possible preparations have been done according to Shane ‘SVG’ van Gisbergen.
“All the preparations have happened; making sure the driver changes are seamless, the pit stops are good, brake changes so a lot of work has been done,” SVG said.
“It’s just hard work and we have been getting better and better throughout the season but with so many changes this year we are trying to stay on top of it all.
“The test day was spent figuring out the new aero package and what it does to the car, what it will do at the high speeds at Bathurst, but what the car will actually do we don’t really know yet so it will be interesting when we get to Bathurst,” he said.
With three out of the four Red Bull Holden Racing Team drivers having a few Bathurst wins to their names, SVG reminisced about being the rookie ahead of the race.
“I think there’s 14 wins between us all and none for me so it’s pretty special to be part of the line-up,” SVG said.
“They’re all guys who were racing before I started and all the guys I used to watch on TV and aspire to be like them.
“It’s special when we were taking team photos at the start of the year and being among these three guys and working together; I still pinch myself at those moments,” he said.
Despite SVG having no Bathurst wins to his name, co-driver Garth ‘GT’ Tander said that the experience needed to win is already there for car #97.
“It’s not a matter of if for Shane, it’s a matter of when as he has the runs on the board,” GT said.
“He has already achieved success in every other aspect of Supercars, it’s only this last one at Bathurst and unfortunately, it’s not a small thing, so if I can be part of that and help him achieve that it would be fantastic.”
And if you have been following Shane’s predictions all season, it seems he and GT may have spent more time together than we know about (see GT’s predictions response about biggest challenge at Bathurst below).
Now on the other side of the garage, the dream team, as they have been referred to, is back after a long absence.
Jamie ‘J-Dub’ Whincup and Craig ‘CL’ Lowndes have driven to not one, not two but three back-to-back Bathurst wins, achieving the unthinkable.
“Any Bathurst win is massive for our sport; it’s the holy grail,” J-Dub said.
“And to have three wins in a row makes it really special and right up there in my mind as a career highlight.”
But we quickly put the past behind and look ahead with someone who knows a thing or two about conquering the mountain.
“The biggest challenge will be finding the balance in the car,” said Craig.
“The speed will come towards the end of the race when the track has rubbered up, so the key is to make sure the car is good to drive in that condition.
“The cars are better aero-wise and with all the changes that have happened this year I think the lap record will get broken this year.”
Now that the boys are back and driving under #888, is there a possibility of another Bathurst win?
“I don’t like to think about,” J-Dub said.
“We have a job to do and a difficult one at that to be honest, so our focus is on execution.”
You have one shot, one opportunity in 2019 to conquer the mountain. Who will the mountain choose?
Stay up to date as we will have it all live on Twitter starting with practice on Thursday October 10th through to the great race on Sunday October 13th.
Garth’s Bathurst Predictions:
Fastest lap time on the track: 2:03.30
Who’s the one to watch at Bathurst: The weather.
Biggest Challenge at Bathurst: Reminding yourself it’s a 1000km race.
Three words to describe Bathurst: Challenging. Tough. Rewarding.
Favourite moment at Bathurst: Winning in 2011 and jumping out of the car to see my wife, Leanne and 6-month-old baby daughter, Scarlett.
Craig’s Bathurst Predictions:
Fastest lap time on the track: 02:03.00
Who’s the one to watch at Bathurst: Scott McLaughlin
Biggest Challenge at Bathurst: Balance in the car.
Three words to describe Bathurst: Huge. Massive Challenge.
Favourite moment at Bathurst: Sunday morning when you get to the start grid and have 1000km ahead of you.