The biggest sporting event of the year is on our doorstep and no, it’s not the footy finals…
It’s the Great Race, the Bathurst 1000, our grand final and we’re as ready as we’ll ever be.
The first race of the endurance season, the Sandown 500, was a delight for us as we claimed the top two steps on the podium, with our teammates Lowndesy and Richo over at Autobarn Lowndes Racing rounding out a perfect Triple Eight trifecta (yep, the bonus was delicious).
The workshop was buzzing post-Sandown and the momentum is a great thing to have, however, we’re not resting on our laurels as we approach The Mountain for the toughest race of the year.
“Bathurst is a standalone event, we had a debrief after Sandown to try to get better, like we do at every race meeting,” said Car #1 driver Jamie “J-Dub” Whincup.
Last year’s Bathurst 1000 was less than ideal for our bulls, particularly J-Dub who suffered an engine failure and finished in 20th place.
“We didn’t have the best show there last year, we’ve been in contention 10 years previously but last year we certainly undersold ourselves,” continued J-Dub.
“Not that we look too much into the history, but we need to make sure we concentrate this week, keep our head down and get the job done. It’s a long week there, a lot of practice sessions, it’s very easy to get confused so we just need to keep concentrating.”
J-Dub’s taken home the coveted Peter Brock Trophy four times and only knows too well the challenges of the Bathurst 1000…
“The track forever changes year in year out, the DJR Team Penske cars were unbelievably fast last year and, although they’re coming out and saying we have an advantage, we were a long way behind them last year,” J-Dub said.
“No doubt they will be a big threat, but everyone up pit lane puts their best effort into this weekend so it’s a really hard race to be competitive at.”
For the car #97 side of the garage, driver Shane “SVG” van Gisbergen isn’t phased that he’s with his fourth different co-driver in as many years – especially since said co-driver is a two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner and World Endurance Champion… We can only assume he’s got the whole endurance thing covered.
Earl “Bam Bam” Bamber will race this year’s Bathurst 1000 for the first time ever, but not before he jumps behind the wheel for the Super2 series’ 250km Bathurst mini-enduro.
“Earl has done four Bathurst 12 Hours, so he’s got a lot of experience, and he’ll also be racing in the development series at Bathurst this year, so he’ll get a lot of laps that weekend,” said SVG.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how he goes, it’ll be a real challenge for him but I’m sure he will rise to it.
“They have a few extra sessions and their own race on Saturday, so it’s a good opportunity for him to get some laps in race conditions before Sunday.”
For SVG, the same game applies as it does any year – by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
“We need to prepare well, work hard and make sure the cars are even better. We hope to arrive with a lot of momentum and confidence coming off Sandown,” continued SVG.
“That track is 1,000km, it’s the toughest track of the year. The race itself throws everything at you with the weather, the strategy and the safety cars. It’s a long day and it’s tough to get everything right. Anything can happen and anyone can win.”
And while SVG’s got the Bathurst 1000 thing going on, he’s also amidst a tight championship battle with DJRTP’s Scott McLaughlin – because the pressure of winning the Bathurst 1000 isn’t enough.
“It’d certainly be cool to have it (the Bathurst 1000 win) but I always want to win the championship more,” SVG told Supercars.com.
“You have to go there and, if you can’t win it, get as many points as possible.
“I will be there trying to win the race for sure and do everything I can to win it but if there is a big opportunity to score a massive amount of points I will try and take that too.”
SVG leads fellow Kiwi and rival McLaughlin by a small 55 points and with 300 points up for grabs at Mount Panorama, it’s certainly going to be an all-in battle to the end.