The 2015 edition of the Bathurst 1000 will struggle to replicate the drama of last year’s event, which saw an unprecedented mid-race stoppage, a string of heartaches for would-be winners and the victors coming from the back of the grid.
But last year’s event sets up this weekend’s race beautifully.
At the pointy end of the grid, Ford outfit Prodrive Racing Australia is aiming to become just the third team in Bathurst history to win three in a row. And having dominated the championship so far in 2015 and the Sandown 500 with the speedy FG X Falcon, a three-peat could be on the cards.
Holden’s leading entries look a long shot for the championship, so the likes of Craig Lowndes, Jamie Whincup, Garth Tander, Fabian Coulthard, Shane van Gisbergen and co will have more freedom to go all out for the win on Sunday.
And among that group are the drivers who suffered at the event last year and will be out for redemption. Whincup, who ran out of fuel while leading on the final lap; van Gisbergen, who stalled in his final pitstop while leading; Tander, who never even got to race following a practice accident, and so many more.
There are some interesting subplots throughout the grid. Veteran Russell Ingall steps in to replace the injured James Courtney alongside Jack Perkins at the Holden Racing Team. Twenty years ago, Ingall and Jack’s father, Larry Perkins, won the event with a last-to-first comeback drive.
Elsewhere, the first all-female since 1998 will hit up Mount Panorama with IndyCar driver Simona de Silvestro joining local racer Renee Gracie in a Prodrive Racing Australia-prepared wildcard entry.
Meanwhile, the pressure is on the non-Ford and Holden entries for a good result. Nissan Motorsport has only had one win since returning to the series in 2013, looking to go one better following a surprise runner-up placing for James Moffat and Taz Douglas last season.
Volvo’s Scott McLaughlin and Alexandre Premat led for most of the race last year before a late tangle with the wall. Another strong showing will help turn around a disappointing sophomore season for the Swedish manufacturer.
Privateer AMG Mercedes-Benz team Erebus Motorsport has welcomed new backers for the weekend, needing a strong result following concerns over the state of the team that doesn’t receive any backing from the manufacturer.
It’s set to be a blistering weekend in terms of speed and times with the V8 Supercars to definitively break the 300km/h barrier down Conrod Straight, following a change to taller gear ratios to stop the cars bouncing off the rev limiter in sixth gear down Conrod Straight.
Those changes combined with last year’s resurfacing means lap records are likely to tumble across the weekend, especially in qualifying.
Throwing a real curve ball in the mix is the forecast for storms around the time of the Shootout on Saturday evening and continued rain throughout race day.
It should help in producing another classic Bathurst 1000.
Adrian Musolino is editor of V8X Magazine, and has written as an expert on The Roar since 2008, cementing himself as a key writer who can see the big picture in sport. He freelances on other forms of motorsport, football, cycling and more.
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