One of the biggest motor sport events for the year is finally here as the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship takes on the iconic Mount Panorama for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
cams.com.au previews the 25th race for the 2019 Supercars season ahead of four days of action starting on Thursday.
It’s time to get excited
More than 200,000 fans are expected to walk through the gates, while more than 600 CAMS officials will be running the four-day event.
On track, an extra two wild cards have joined the star-studded line up for Sunday’s race.
With Bathurst now hosting the first of the three-round endurance round series, the Pirtek Enduro Cup, fans can expect the unexpected heading in to the first race of the year with co-drivers joining the Supercars’ regulars as part of the 161 laps of high octane racing.
As for the milestones, the Ford Mustang will compete at Mount Panorama for the first time since 1986, while there are six drivers making their Bathurst debut this weekend including Indycar stars Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe.
New flag in car warning system
Another safety measure has been brought in to assist drivers on top physical trackside flag points, with every competing car to be fitted with an in-car warning screen displaying key track information, such as warning of an obstruction on track ahead, which can be sent directly to drivers.
It’s a project that has been in the works for almost two years and will help Supercars drivers and officials. It is expected to be especially helpful at Bathurst due the high-speed corners at the top of the mountain where circumstances can change quickly.
Nissans get an upgrade
Kelly Racing’s four Nissans will be a little different this week and not just with their liveries.
Ahead of the first endurance round of the season, the four Altimas received their third change for 2019 with a revised aerodynamic package being added to the cars.
Ticked off by the Supercars’ technical department, the revision is intended to offer a small drag reduction without impacting down force and is changed via an outboard bootlid extension.
Rick Kelly and co-driver Dale Wood’s Nissan will also feature a fresh new look, as part of Castrol’s 100th birthday celebrations with fans deciding on the new look for Castrol backed car at the mountain.
Records to tumble?
Most drivers head into Bathurst full of confidence and the cars seem like they are faster than ever, so it’s hardly surprising there is talk that both the race and lap time records could be broken this weekend.
Scott McLaughlin broke the lap record back in 2017 during the top 10 shootout with a blistering 2m03.83 lap time, while Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards finished the race in just over six hours last year.
However for drivers to reach the twos and break the six-hour barrier in the 62nd running of the great race, a lot needs to go their way – including favourable clear weather and a limited number of safety car intervention.
There was plenty to celebrate after the last race in New Zealand where Scott McLaughlin broke Craig Lowndes’ record of 16 race wins in a single season.
While McLaughlin slightly increased his lead in the standings, Shane van Gisbergen was the big winner from the New Zealand round, picking up a win and a runner-up to finish the weekend in second outright, and now sits just under 600 points behind McLaughlin with only four races remaining.
Championship Top 10
1 Scott McLaughlin 3008 points
2 Shane van Gisbergen 2410
3 Chaz Mostert 2327
4 Fabian Coulthard 2317
5 Jamie Whincup 2140
6 David Reynolds 2084
7 Cameron Waters 1975
8 Nick Percat 1894
9 Will Davison 1811
10 Lee Holdsworth 1704
This round last year
Pole: David Reynolds and Luke Youlden
Winner: Craig Lowndes and Steve Richards
Runner Up: Scott Pye and Warren Luff
Third: Scott McLaughlin and Alex Premat
#2 Holden ZB - Scott Pye/ Warren Luff
#3 Nissan Altima - Garry Jacobson/ Dean Fiore
#5 Ford Mustang - Lee Holdsworth/ Thomas Randle
#6 Ford Mustang - Cameron Waters/ Michael Caruso
#7 Nissan Altima - Andre Heimgartner/ Bryce Fullwood
#8 Holden ZB - Nick Percat/ Tim Blanchard
#9 Holden ZB - David Reynolds/ Luke Youlden
#12 Ford Mustang – Fabian Coulthard/ Tony D'Alberto
#14 Holden ZB - Tim Slade/ Ash Walsh
#15 Nissan Altima - Rick Kelly/ Dale Wood
#17 Ford Mustang - Scott McLaughlin/ Alex Premat
#18 Holden ZB - Mark Winterbottom/ Steve Richards
#19 Holden ZB - Jack Le Brocq/ Jonathon Webb
#21 Holden ZB - Macauley Jones/ Dean Canto
#22 Holden ZB - James Courtney/ Jack Perkins
#23 Ford GT - Will Davison/ Alex Davison
#27 Holden ZB – Alexander Rossi/James Hinchcliffe*
#33 Holden ZB – Richie Stanaway/Christ Pither
#34 Holden ZB - James Golding/Richard Muscat
#35 Holden ZB - Todd Hazelwood/ Jack Smith
#55 Ford Mustang - Chaz Mostert/ James Moffat
#56 Holden ZB - Brodie Kostecki/ Jake Kostecki
#78 Nissan Altima - Simona De Silvestro/ Alex Rullo
#97 Holden ZB - Shane van Gisbergen/ Garth Tander
#99 Holden ZB - Anton De Pasquale / Will Brown
#888 Holden ZB - Jamie Whincup/Craig Lowndes
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Thursday 10 October
9:55 – 10:55 Practice 1
12:45 – 13:45 Practice 2
16:00 – 15:00 Practice 3
Friday 11 October
8:25 – 9:25 Practice 4
11:05 – 12:05 Practice 5
16:00 – 16:40 ARMOR ALL Qualifying – Race 25
Saturday 11 October
09:40 – 10:10 Practice 6
12:10 – 12:40 Practice 7
17:05 – 17:50 ARMOR ALL Top Ten Shootout – Race 25
Sunday 12 October
8:20 – 8:40 Warm Up
11:30 - 18:30 Race 25
(All times listed are Bathurst local times (AEDT)