The 2019 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 is now just days away and Speedcafe.com wants to know who you think will win, in this week’s Pirtek Poll.
Supercars heavyweights the Red Bull Holden Racing Team and the Shell V-Power Racing Team find themselves in vastly different situations on their way to Bathurst for the Great Race.
The former has two new driver pairings that collectively comprise three multiple Bathurst 1000 winners, three Bathurst 12 Hour winners, and four former Supercars champions.
Craig Lowndes, victor in last year’s Bathurst 1000, has been reunited with Jamie Whincup, with whom he pulled off the threepeat from 2006 to 2008, and maintains that a year out will not blunt his driving.
In Car #97, Shane van Gisbergen is joined by Garth Tander, who has raced in three other categories (TCR, Australian GT, Toyota 86) this year.
Like Lowndes, Tander’s considerable experience could well be vital given Mount Panorama is the first stop in this year’s Pirtek Enduro Cup.
While the driving talent is undoubted, Triple Eight Race Engineering has only had one race event and a test day to come to grips with the ZB Commodore’s revised aerodynamic package.
DJR Team Penske’s Ford Mustangs, on the other hand, might not have been to Bathurst yet but have been the quickest cars almost all season so far.
Scott McLaughlin is perhaps at the top of his game right now and Fabian Coulthard found form again last time out at Pukekohe even if the Safety Car drama hid it.
There is far less hype around their respective co-drivers, Alexandre Premat and Tony D’Alberto, than Triple Eight’s, especially considering the former’s relative dearth of seat time.
However, Penske could have its choice of almost any co-driver in the market and chose the Frenchman and the 2007 Super2 Series winner again, a clear show of faith.
It was nevertheless the plucky Penrite Racing that won the 2017 Bathurst 1000 and could very well have had a one-two last year.
Young guns Anton De Pasquale and Will Brown are also a highly talented combo. The former has seriously come on in his second Virgin Australia Supercars Championship campaign and while the latter has had a tough year in the Dunlop Super2 Series, he has been winning in TCR Australia.
Tickford Racing has four bullets to fire.
Chaz Mostert, in the Supercheap Auto Mustang, has consistently been at or near the front this year and was ably assisted by James Moffat in last year’s Pirtek Enduro Cup, while Cameron Waters is bolstered by the signing of Michael Caruso to co-drive the Monster car.
Lee Holdsworth should have had a drought-breaking podium last time out at Pukekohe and his co-driver in The Bottle-O Ford is exciting youngster Thomas Randle, while Davison brothers Will and Alex combine in the 23Red Milwaukee entry which the former nearly took to a win at The Bend.
While those squads occupy the top five spots in the teams’ championship (including Tickford’s two pairs of cars), the nature of the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 opens up a number of other possibilities.
It would be remiss to overlook the other half of last year’s race-winning combination, Steven Richards, who rejoins the man with whom he also won in 2013, Mark Winterbottom, at the significantly improved Irwin Racing.
Brad Jones Racing’s Nick Percat, who will have Tim Blanchard alongside him, is eighth in the championship in an under-the-radar season to date and the Albury team’s apparent knack for strategy is especially important in the enduros.
It should also be noted that Walkinshaw Andretti United’s Scott Pye and Warren Luff have finished second in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 in each of the last two years.
Who do you think will win the 2019 Bathurst 1000? Cast your vote in this week’s Pirtek Poll.