The Bathurst 1000 is Australia’s premier motorsport event and has been wowing crowds for years. With UK coverage at an all-time high with live broadcasts on BT Sport and MotorsTV, here are a few tips and points of interest for those who want to see what all the fuss is about.
As you can guess, the V8 Supercar championship features heavy, flame-spitting, raucous V8s – every petrolhead’s dream! The cars are sedans from five different manufacturers; Holden (aka Vauxhall), Ford, Nissan, Volvo and Mercedes. The cars are strong enough to bounce off each other and are a a real handful to drive. The best drivers are the ones who have been at it for years, with a few notable exceptions, but more on them later. The cars are visually striking to look at stood still and even more so when being driven on the limit. With eye-catching, sponsor-laden liveries, it harks back to an era of all-out motorsport meaning even the regular meetings are a spectacle!
The Mount Panorama circuit is one of the last great un-neutered circuits in the world. The wall-lined run up and down the mountain brings out the best in the drivers, while the full-chat, rev limiter entry to the final chicane proves the brave. The circuit has an incredible history of races, and serves as a public road the rest of the year around. As for all the twisty business on the climb and descent, there is ample overtaking opportunity to keep the entertainment levels high. Add to the sheer length of the track and its susceptibility to incur multiple weather systems at different areas, and it’s a volatile mix before anyone even turns a wheel!
The vast majority of regular drivers in the V8 Supercars are paid professionals, and despite this they are all encouraged to have their own voice and personality – quite different to the world of Formula 1! The main guys to watch out for are the six-time champ Jamie Whincup, talented New Zealand wonderkind Scott McLaughlin, Ford’s Mark “Frosty” Winterbottom and his upstart team mate Chaz Mostart – the reigning Bathurst winner.
However a quirk of V8 racing is the endurance season – a three race stretch involving long distance racing and requiring a co-driver. This co-driver may not be a regular in the series, and as such the team have to hire outside help. While the smaller teams may bring in someone willing to cough up a little of their own money, most bring in professional help.
From semi-retired stars of the past, to youngsters rising through the ranks, to international stars, the regulars have to rely on their co-driver to help them in the championship – not just the race. This adds a whole extra dynamic to the event and this year we’ve got a couple of Brits in there too! Nissan works driver Alex Buncombe lines up alongside two-time Bathurst winner Rick Kelly in the Jack Daniel’s Nissan, and sportscar ace Oliver Gavin teams up with Nick Percat in the small LDM Holden team – don’t rule them out, they were on the podium last year.
F1 fans might remember 4-time Indycar champion Sebastian Bourdais. Already a V8 Supercar race winner, Bourdais renews a partnership with Lee Holdsworth in a works Holden – a dark horse…
The reigning winners of the race – 23 year old Chaz Mostert currently 2nd in the championship, and the now-retired 47 year old Paul Morris, a previous privateer entrant with 28 years experience – were a chalk and cheese pairing that exemplified all that makes the human drama of the great race. Morris’ first attempt at Bathurst came before Chaz was born, but they shared a mutual first win in the most dramatic of last-lap circumstances. It’s the drivers that truly make a championship worth watching, and there will be no shortage of personalities this Sunday.
The Harvey Norman Supergirls
Yes, it’s the cheesiest name going but 2015 sees the all-female Harvey Norman Supergirls team entered as a wildcard – with Ford works support. The lineup consists of 20-year old Renee Gracie, a rising star in Australian motorsport, and Indycar racer Simona de Silvestro.
After perhaps losing her F1 shot in the Sauber contract debacle of a year ago, de Silvestro has spent a lifetime racing open wheelers and will step into the V8s with no prior tin-top racing experience. The girls have modest expectations for the race, but in making the grid they’ve already achieved a lot and sparked plenty of positive conversation about women in motorsport. Plus they’ve been having a lot of coaching from the now-retired reigning Bathurst winner Paul Morris (co-driver for Mostert in 2014), so if they keep it clean the girls could be on for a good result.
Coverage starts at Midnight Saturday (Sat night/Sun Morning) on MotorsTV and BT Sport, and you’re in for a long haul. But if last year’s thriller – decided four corners from the end in battle involving two cars that started from the last row – is anything to go by, you’re going to love it!