Bathurst Preview: Tips and Talking Points for the Great Race

bathurst preview: tips and talking points for the great race
Mount Panorama. Photo: Supplied

THE Repco Bathurst 1000 is officially underway, with supporting categories on a greasy surface of Mount Panorama.

Ahead of opening practice for the Repco Supercars Championship starting at 11am AEDT this morning, the V8 Sleuth editorial team of Aaron Noonan, Will Dale, Stefan Bartholomaeus and Connor O’Brien answer five burning questions.

What story are you most excited to see unfold?

A: With wet weather dominating the forecast for race day, the story to follow is how race control handles heavy rain conditions.

They have an unenviable task that balances the desire to organize a race with the need to ensure safety for everyone. How cautious will they be when assessing track conditions?

W.D.: I’m excited to see where the wild cards end up after 161 laps on Sunday.

As for equipment, the Triple Eight car should be a real contender for the front of the field, and it will be fascinating to see how close Declan Fraser and Craig Lowndes come to the pace of the co-drivers in the main T8 entries. .

Richie Stanaway’s return to Mount Panorama in the Erebus Motorsport wild card is also fantastic to see, and the weather forecast for the week reflects the conditions of the 2017 race, where the Kiwi was the undoubted star.

I’m also excited to see Matt Chahda finally make his main game debut with his family team. As we said in the V8 Sleuth Podcast Bathurst preview episode, this is the closest thing to a private entrance in the modern era, and it would be great to see #118 in the top half of the field in the final results.

TV GUIDE: How and where to watch the Repco Bathurst 1000

bathurst preview: tips and talking points for the great race
Matt Chahda, Jaylyn Robotham and the two Caltex cars (#118 for 2022, #9 for 2003). Photo: Supplied

SB: What wild and wacky curveball will Mount Panorama throw this year? That’s what I look forward to the most from Bathurst, because it’s a place and a race that never fails.

From the curious case of an echidna in the cut, to unseen “debris” and an untimely cramp, you never know what’s coming next. And then there’s the weather…

CO: Richie Stanaway. I have written it before and I will do it again now: he is the last unknown.

Is this the beginning of an almighty second coming for the prodigious talent or just another chapter in the enigmatic story?

Who wins the race?

bathurst preview: tips and talking points for the great race
Chaz Mostert and Lee Holdsworth with the 2021 winners plaque. Photo: Mark Horsburgh

A: I tip Chaz Mostert and Walkinshaw Andretti United to play back to back. They were dominant at Bathurst last year and we’ve seen Chaz turn it on in the wet before.

This entry has also lost nothing in the change of co-driver. Fabian Coulthard is a great replacement for Lee Holdsworth. They are a great combination.

W.D.: Cam Waters/James Moffat. Waters will be a contender whether conditions are wet or dry (or both), and Moffat represents one of the strongest co-drivers on the grid with no shortage of sitting time in the race cars in 2022.

SB: There’s no such thing as a sure thing in Bathurst, but it’s hard to get past the #97 Shane van Gisbergen/Garth Tander entry.

They have the drivers, the car and the team to win it. SVG is in incredible shape, and if it’s wet as predicted, it could give a master class.

CO: Cam Waters/James Moffat. It seems all too obvious to pick the #97 Car to score an umpteenth win of the year, and Waters/Moffat have become perennial contenders at Bathurst (before even joining forces).

Waters is SVG-style when it comes to racing, Moffat is one of the absolute A-grade co-drivers, and Tickford is almost always fast around here.

bathurst preview: tips and talking points for the great race
James Moffat and Cam Waters are a popular choice among our team. Photo: Mark Horsburgh

Who is your dark horse?

A: David Reynolds and Matt Campbell. Grove Racing Mustangs are traditionally strong in the wet and this is a strong pairing with two experienced drivers.

It can be hard to predict what this team is going to offer, but that makes them a dark horse. Don’t forget that Reynolds also won the last wet Bathurst…

W.D.: Andre Heimgartner/Dale Wood. Heimgartner is a renowned weapon in wet conditions, Woody is probably underrated among the co-driving field, and Brad Jones Racing is about to have some good fortune at Mount Panorama.

SB: Erebus have had a difficult preparation with a major rebuild required after Will Brown’s Pukekohe crash and patchy form, but they are traditionally fast at Bathurst.

Brodie Kostecki was a star on his co-driver debut in 2020 and raced the big boys for third place last year alongside holdover co-driver David Russell. Kostecki is fast, aggressive and a sight to behold.

bathurst preview: tips and talking points for the great race
Brodie Kostecki (right) celebrates with co-driver David Russell on the podium at the 2021 Bathurst 1000. Photo: Nathan Wong

CO: James Courtney/Zane Goddard. I bet Tickford will be fast on The Mountain once again.

Courtney is the ultimate hit-or-miss driver, but when he’s on, he’s still a force to be reckoned with, and don’t forget his remarkable drive from one lap to seventh last year at Bathurst. Goddard should be a valuable asset and has a lot of Supercar mileage under his belt this year.

Who is the co-pilot to watch?

A: Warren Luff. How do you keep delivering every year? His record at Bathurst is exceptional and I can’t wait to see him do it again.

W.D.: Alex Davisson. His pace relative to his brother Will is probably the determining factor in whether the #17 Mustang is a contender to win Dick Johnson Racing’s 1,000th race, or ends up stacked behind his teammates.

SB: Porsche ace Matt Campbell is a world-class driver with vast experience at Bathurst, thanks to seven 12-hour starts and soon to be four in the 1000.

His strong drive in last year’s Big Race went largely unnoticed in an uncompetitive Kelly Grove Racing Mustang, but an upgraded package — and wet weather — could make Campbell shine.

CO: Jaime Whitcup. Whatever Whincup does in Bathurst, it’s almost always spectacular. He is surely going to be the fastest co-driver in the field, but will he suit the typically more measured approach that the role entails? Or will it go bankrupt?

bathurst preview: tips and talking points for the great race
Jamie Whincup (right) headlined Sandown’s additional pilot practice. Photo: Nathan Wong

Who’s the rookie to watch?

A: Aaron Seton becoming the first third generation driver to compete in the Great Bathurst Race is a fantastic story and makes him someone to watch.

The Setons are a very loving family that runs the right way and I know how proud Glenn is of his son and his opportunity to make his debut on the big stage.

W.D.: Jaxon Evans. Highly rated as a GT racer and has great knowledge of the circuit, but it will be fascinating to see how he adapts to a Supercar and will provide an interesting measure of Jack Smith’s progress over the last few seasons.

SB: We’re going to learn a lot about Matt Payne this weekend. The New Zealand wunderkind makes his Supercar Championship debut as co-driver for Lee Holdsworth, the man he will replace next season.

It promises to offer a direct comparison between the two and a test of Payne’s maturity in the midst of an unpredictable Super2 season.

CO: I’m intrigued to see how Cameron Hill, Declan Fraser and Jaxon Evans fare this weekend, but above all it’s hard to top Matt Payne.

Qualifying speed has never been an issue for Payne, but it has been for the #10 Car this year, so in a pinch, could it be thrown in the deep end on Friday afternoon?

bathurst preview: tips and talking points for the great race
Matt Campbell, David Reynolds, Lee Holdsworth and Matt Payne. Photo: Supplied

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