Motorsport News

2019 BATHURST 1000 PREVIEW – PART 1

WELCOME to the Race Torque’s ultimate Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 preview.

We’ve thrown some key questions – some straightforward and some not – to both members of our team, key racers set to tackle the Great Race and members of the watching media to get their thoughts about what will unfold this Sunday.

Today’s questions relate to the race itself. In part two we’ll look at the shootout, predict the post-Bathurst Power Rankings and more!

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Have your say on our socials!

THE RACE TORQUE CREW:

Richard Craill: Editor of TheRaceTorque.com, PR / voice of the 12-Hour who has a light switch in the Bathurst pit building named for him.
Dale Rodgers: TRT’s senior contributor. Once a noted Bathurst photographer before hamstrings gave out and relegated him to the keys.
Mark Walker: TRT’s chief photographer. Will be up earlier than you to get the sunrise shot on race day. Still has hamstrings.
Tony Schibeci: Host and Producer of ‘On the Grid’, the TRT Podcast. Used to be the voice of ‘Gladiators’, which seems apt for Bathurst.  

THE VOICES:

Greg Rust: Voice to the stars and of motorsport Safety Announcements the world over. Conducted famous post-lap chat with Murph after the ’03 ‘Lap of the Gods’ and is now his neighbour. Suss? Yes.  
Chad Neylon: FOX Sports / Channel 10 / Big Screen broadcast. Noted TRT Power Rankings fan which, lets be honest, is how he got this gig.
Garry O’Brien: Auto Action legend Making his FIFTY FIRST consecutive Bathurst 500/1000 start. 51! Garry was there before people could even count to 51!  

THE DRIVERS:

Jack Le Brocq: Truck Assist-supported driver will make his 5th Bathurst start this year. Has a 12 Hour podium, then solid finishes of 4th in 2016 and 7th in 2017 in the Great Race.  
Lee Holdsworth: The Bottle-O Racing Tickford Mustang driver makes his 16th Great Race start this year and can now be considered a Bathurst veteran. 3rd in 2009 with Michael Caruso he has three other top-10 finishes to his credit, too. Holdsworth / Randle combo somewhat ‘under-the-rader’ in our books.
Jack Perkins: Makes his 14th Great Race start this year. Now in his 5th year with Walkinshaw Andretti United and fourth with James Courtney. Has finished 8th on three occasions but must surely be considered a podium shot this year, given his team’s history at Bathurst.

CRAILL: While it is almost impossible to go past either of the Red Bull HRT combinations, it’s not completely impossible. Given the year they’ve had and the level at which their lead driver is operating, I’m on Car 17 to deliver The Captain his first Bathurst 1000 victory.
WALKER: Whincup/Lowndes – I was only allowed to pick one, and there’s nothing in it from the Red Bull HRT dream team.
PERKINS: Car 17 is clearly the favourite. Form team, form car, form lead driver, only weakness could be co-driver and brake failure at pre-enduro test, plus electrical gremlins Friday at Pukekohe.
O’BRIEN: McLaughlin/Premat Ford Mustang – pacesetters all year. Even when out of sorts, SMcL has usually found his way back to the front.
SCHIBECI: For me the combination of Lowndes and Whincup is the absolute dream team. Should be $2.75 with the bookmakers
HOLDSWORTH: Chaz Mostert & James Moffat. The car has been speedy all year round, good race pace and reliable, plus some continuity with Moff pairing up for the second consecutive year. 
RODGERS: #17 Scott McLaughlin – nothing to lose, everything to gain. McLaughlin and Penske want this one. DJ would not mind another win at Bathurst also! Is there a chink?….possibly the co-driver.  
NEYLON: I like the #97 this year. Shane is driving the remodelled ZB brilliantly and his co-driver is next level. SVG is very, very due, actually he’s overdue. As overdue as every DVD I ever rented from Blockbuster.
Le BROCQ: I reckon the old Mustang is going to be up there for sure, but going off the potential that Triple 8 showed in New Zealand, they will be right there with them. So it will be hard to go past Scotty Mac and Fabs, but also the “Dream Team” with both combinations, they are pretty rock solid. It should be good to see.
RUST: The RedBull combos look VERY strong but I reckon SVG and Garth have a slight edge. Although GT will probably do the odd piece with Channel 10’s coverage I can’t see his off-track schedule being as demanding as Craig’s (Lowndes) and for me that’s a factor.  As Murph said recently if car 97 rolls out strong on Thursday they’ll hard to beat. Tander is in the right co-driving headspace too.

VERDICT: An even spread between Car 17 and the T8 combos, with some Tickford wild-cards thrown in. Pretty standard 2019 form, then! No one backing Bathurst 2017 and 18 pace-setters Erebus, interestingly..

CRAILL: It’s Triple Eight, obviously, but questions over parity and somewhat yo-yo form remain. On that basis, I’m going with Mostert / Moffatt for all-round combo of pace, endurance, car, team and shortish odds.   
WALKER: Nothing really to pick between 888 and 97, only 888 has more experience winning at Bathurst, which has to tip them over the edge.
PERKINS: Red Bull HRT. On paper they have the best driver line up, best history on the Mountain. The only thing they are missing for this year is a Mustang!
O’BRIEN: Really only between two teams, DJR/Penske and Triple 8. Going the former because they have been dominant throughout the season.
SCHIBECI: It has to be the Winterbottom/Richards combination. Between them they have won 6 Bathurst’s and did it together in 2013. The car has a pole to its name and a fair few of top 10 finishes this year.  Can you imagine the party Charlie would throw.  I want an invite.
HOLDSWORTH: I can’t think of one particular all round combo that stands out above the rest. Obviously Triple 8, Tickford and Penske are the teams in form, all of them have the best package. 
RODGERS: #888  Jamie Whincup / Craig Lowndes – Cauchi & Dutton and the boss RD. A team wanting for nothing.
NEYLON: Best package is absolutely Red Bull Holden Racing Team. It could well be the greatest 4-driver line up to tackle the Mountain and their back of house staff know how to win the Great Race.
Le BROCQ: It’s going to be hard to go past Jamie and Craig, Craig’s speed there last year was very good, and I’m sure he is hungry to get back in the car as well, and I think Jamie will want to make amends after the last few years.
RUST: Car 97 SVG/Tander for the reasons I began outlining above. There’s little doubt the DJR/TP Mustang and Scott McLaughlin in particular will be the team to beat I just sense an immense hunger at RedBull HRT to have a good Bathurst to help heal the wounds of a difficult championship.

VERDICT: Triple Eight with all the aces here, in every sense of the term. Schibeci going for experience in the IRWIN Commodore and Craill refusing to go with the trend and naming the tasty Mostert / Moffat duo.

CRAILL: Can you consider Erebus a smokey? I reckon Anton dePasquale and Will Brown are in with a big shot of a very, very big result this year.
WALKER: Anton dePascquale & Will Brown, Erebus are quick at Bathurst, and these boys are in form.
PERKINS: Hopefully James Courtney and myself in the 22 Holden Commodore!!! Who’s a smokey these days anyway? Just about all of the cars are competitive these days, with good drivers. The smokey was once Erebus and Reynolds, but they are contenders now!
In Mustang land I’d say Waters and Holdsworth will be the quiet achievers, but with a first year co-driver this could hurt Holdsworth not having Sandown as a warm up. Percat and Blanchard could be the sneaky result for the General and Heimgartner has been flying the flag for Nissan all year, add in his co-driver, Fullwood, who’s doing Super2 in the same car, they will be ones to watch from that stable.
O’BRIEN: Pye/Luff – second last two years, a very good combo at Bathurst and can go one better.
SCHIBECI: Chaz Mostert and James Moffat. I think James may have been conceived at Bathurst (Born in June 84, 9 months after Bathurst in October, mmmm).  A good handy combination
HOLDSWORTH: Us!
RODGERS: #6 Cam Waters / Michael Caruso – fast and Tickford on top of the Mustang. Caruso a good get.   
NEYLON: Never. Ever. Write. Off. WAU. At. Bathurst. Ever. Oh, and I like car 6.
Le BROCQ: I reckon Jimmie Golding has been on the rise, he was in the mix last year and has found some form of late. Their race pace of late has been pretty good, so I think they might creep up there under the radar.
RUST: It seems strange to think of David Reynolds & Luke Youlden as smokeys but the build-up will focus heavily on McLaughlin & DJR/TP and both RedBull cars. That will relieve Reynold’s of a repeat of last year and all the pressure/media intensity associated with their heart breaking attempt to win back-to-back races at the Mountain.  This is a bloody good team and a fairy tale come back to reclaim the Peter Brock trophy is a real possibility.

VERDICT: Perkins hits the nail on the head with ‘what even is a smokey these days?’ and he’s probably right, but some good tips here. Neylon is bang-on about WAU’s Bathurst record – it’s great. Tickford boys getting some love as do the ‘second’ Erebus duo. Holdsworth backing himself, which we like! Rust backs the winner two years ago – but makes sense in his arguments! Schibeci invading the Moffat family personal life, but you can’t fault the maths..

CRAILL: Supercars technical department. If it’s an even contest then they’ll be happy. But if the Mustangs are a class above, or the Commodore changes make them unbeatable, it’ll be a PR disaster at the biggest race of the year.
WALKER: Premat and Youlden – part timers in top-line kit, no pressure lads!
PERKINS: Keeping the Great Race Great! This is the biggest day in Australian Motorsport. It’s not remembered for being a 161 time trial. There needs to be safety cars, crashes, weather, chaos, if it’s a quick race that’s boring then it won’t be a Great Race!
O’BRIEN: the weather, and I’m not talking about climate change either.
SCHIBECI: It’s Parity.  Nobody really knows how these cars will handle on the Mountain this year as there have been so many changes to the cars in the past 12 months. 
HOLDSWORTH: TV ratings 
RODGERS: Driving for their careers…..Scott Pye and Tim Slade
NEYLON: Mustang’s reputation. If a pony doesn’t win Bathurst it will be the greatest touring car to never have won the Great Race.
Le BROCQ: While McLaughlin is pretty cruisy out in front of the championship, the battle for the minor placings is pretty hot, that battle for second, third and fourth in the points.
RUST: From a fan point of view it’s parity. Have they got it right for the Great Race? I genuinely hope so. It feels like they have. Spare a thought for the world class operators working long hours on the TV coverage too. There is A LOT riding on how it resonates with the audience and how it rates as the sport endeavours to lock away a new broadcast deal for 2021 and beyond.

VERDICT: It says much of how much is on the line in the big one that we ended up with 10 different thoughts about what is at stake this weekend. Chances are, it’ll be a combination of all 10.

CRAILL: It has to be getting to the critical lap between 130 and 140 on the lead lap and making sure your best driver is in the car from there. If you’re not in the mix by then, you’re not going to win it. Unless you’re Craig Lowndes, who probably could.
WALKER: There’s never a substitute for race pace, but will also help not tripping over one’s anatomy.
PERKINS: I think the race has turned into getting the co-driver laps done as early as possible, making sure the co-drivers don’t really racing the main guys and set up for 60-70 run home for the main driver. 
O’BRIEN: Double stacking at a critical time.
SCHIBECI: Strategy is king here.  Its making sure you stay straight for 134 laps. Then it’s a 27 lap sprint to the end. Driver: There’s 106 miles to the finish, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark out, and I’m wearing a tinted visor. Enginer: Hit it!
HOLDSWORTH: Strategy and speed 
RODGERS: Follow the Paul Morris doctrine and pit at every Safety Car…regardless
NEYLON: Minimising mistakes, as in make none, zip, nada. This is going to be a very fast race, so tiny mistakes will be punished.
Le BROCQ: Being on the lead lap, being in the top-ten late in the race. If you are in the fight, anything can happen.
RUST: While fuel economy, strategy and safety cars traditionally dominate discussion around what was key to the race in the final analysis I think how closely matched the driver pairings are will be the big factor in the make up of the podium. 

VERDICT: Being on the lead lap will be key according to most of our pundits, but we like O’Brien’s thought about double-stacking: It can be a killer. Perkins makes a salient point about it becoming a single-driver race after half-distance while Holdsworth nails the basics. Again, many variables and they’ll all be in play.

CRAILL: Have you seen how aggro the first laps have been this year? I reckon someone ends up parked against the wall adjacent to the McPhillamy Park gates on Lap 1, and I think it could be a GRM car.
WALKER: Not sure who, but they’ll clean up Skippy.
PERKINS: Wasn’t that the Kiwi Wildcard!! Hopefully it’s not JC and myself this year!
O’BRIEN: De Silvestro/Rullo, because it is a Datsun and one has to go.
SCHIBECI: WAU Wildcard – Hinchcliffe and Rossi.  It’s tougher than Pocono.
HOLDSWORTH: Too hard to predict!
RODGERS: #35 – co driver caught out by the slippery conditions
NEYLON: I hate guessing this, number out of the hat was car 21.
Le BROCQ: How can you answer that?! 
RUST: I’m non-confrontationalist so I hate doing this but I think it will be either a GRM car or a Kelly Racing entry.  Both teams have already had MASSIVE seasons with their various race programs and that has to take a toll on their people or the preparedness for the biggest race of the year. IF the Kelly’s are planning to downsize and switch to Mustangs next year (as the rumour mill suggests) does that compromise any of the Altimas? For the record I hope both teams make me eat my words!

VERDICT: In many ways this was the toughest question of the lot! Perkins nervous after what happened to him on his Bathurst debut, which is fair (and also technically correct about the TKR non-event). Schibeci thinks the IndyCar Wildcard will be claimed first while Walker will be on the phone to the RSPCA and Rusty to the next election with that answer! Hard one to predict – but what if it’s a big name? What if it’s 12, 17, 97 or 888? How big would that be?

CRAILL: It will be a fast race, but a bruising one. 8.
WALKER: 6
PERKINS: As above, It’s not remembered for being a 161 time trial. There needs to be safety cars, crashes, weather, chaos, if it’s a quick race that’s boring then it won’t be a Great Race!
O’BRIEN: Three quick ones
SCHIBECI: 7 Safety Cars taking up 32 laps
HOLDSWORTH: SC filled due to the fact it’s the first enduro so some drivers haven’t had a chance to blow off the cobwebs.
RODGERS: A fast race, until about 3.00pm.
NEYLON: 1 SC period. Hope I’m wrong!
Le BROCQ: 6
RUST: This year will be a fast race. 3 safety cars.

VERDICT: The Over / Under is about 6 Safety Car breaks this year.

CRAILL: Pit lane. Someone is going to try and extract an extra lap of fuel trying to get to the critical lap at the end of the race, and will get it wrong.
WALKER: Late race drama, this race always has a final stint twist. All eyes on race control to get everything right.
PERKINS: Last corner, last lap pass for the lead/win!
O’BRIEN: Around the Grate somewhere
SCHIBECI: A red flag and restart after the 8 car pile-up at turn 1 on the start lap. (Bloody hell! – Ed)
HOLDSWORTH: Mountain straight, desperate overtake with 3 to go..
RODGERS: Late Safety Car – into Hell Corner and a dive bomb for the lead
NEYLON: Key moment will be Scotty and Davey sorting this rivalry out in the last hour on the track. Winner takes all!
Le BROCQ: 36 laps from the end there will be a big splash of something, it could be a danger lap just before the final pit window opens.
RUST: Pitlane – it may not be 5 minute penalty but my gut tells me something significant will happen here that alters the race particularly as 2019 will be an unrelenting race IMO.

VERDICT: Two of the racing drivers, not surprisingly, have predicted desperate moves for the lead within the closing three laps of the race. We promise Jack and Lee that if it’s them making it, and they end up in the gravel, we’ll delete this part of the preview post-race. But seriously, that’s what we want to see, isn’t it?

CRAILL: The High-Profile entry from Walkinshaw Andretti United will be the fastest and highest profile, but in the end the Kostecki’s will run a smart, incident-free race and finish higher. 14th.  
WALKER: Kostecki’s, 13th 
PERKINS: I don’t think either will be in the top 10 in qualifying but whichever one doesn’t have to share a boom with anyone will score a much better finishing result than the other, as they won’t have to double stack if they’re not sharing with someone, which is unfair but a whole different argument!
O’BRIEN: The Kostecki’s, 12th
SCHIBECI:  The Brothers Kostecki.
HOLDSWORTH: Hinchcliffe and Rossi, 14th.
RODGERS: #27 – Rossi and Hinchcliffe – steady race after a practice crash. Finishing P14.
NEYLON: The Kostecki boys have come a long way. Brodie is legit and Jake has really benefited from SVG and Paul Morris coaching. 11th.
Le BROCQ: The Kostecki’s are going to have a good run, Brodie and Jake have both been going well this year, I reckon they could be in for a pretty good run.
RUST: In qualifying it will be the Kostecki’s whose driving has really matured this year but in the race I think Rossi/Hinchcliffe will circulate all day long and use their experience to buy a ticket to the finish.  Even though Supercars are incredibly different to Indycar and Bathurst is a unique track I have a feeling these guys will finish just inside the top 10.

VERDICT: SHOCK! Turns out all the profile, PR and attention in the world doesn’t make you favourites. Ultimately a vast majority have backed the Kostecki boys for a big result. This could be one of the more intriguing storylines of the race.

PART TWO of our massive Bathurst preview will be live at 0600AM Tuesday, October 8 and will cover off the Top 10 Shootout, what not to miss outside of the race itself and other key talking points. Plus, our panel has a go at predicting the post-event TRT Power Rankings, with interesting results!