Russell Ingall is favouring Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander to take out this weekend’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
The former Supercars veteran is favouring the #97 Triple Eight entry over the sister factory Holden of Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes and the Scott McLaughlin/Alexandre Premat Ford Mustang that have been widely tipped as favourites.
Ingall acknowledges the cases put forward for the above pairs but believes van Gisbergen and Tander are best placed to triumph and end a Bathurst 1000 drought for the former, who is the 2016 Supercars champion.
The prospect of wet weather during the race has heightened his belief that van Gisbergen will shine, coupled with the benefits of the recent aero changes made to the Holden Commodore.
“I mean, everyone is just naturally going for the easy calls and that’s obviously the McLaughlin DJR Penske car and Whincup and Lowndes. On paper they’re pretty tough to beat, there’s no doubt about it,” Ingall told Speedcafe.com.
“You throw in a bit of inclement weather and that will throw it wide open.
“To me, I think I’ll be laying my money more so toward van Gisbergen and Tander to be honest.
“Everyone is talking Whincup and Lowndes; I’m not so sure.
“Whincup has thrown it away here a lot of the years, whether he likes to admit it or not; he has, that’s just a fact.
“Whether that will be bad calls, bad decisions, whatever it may be.
“Lowndes is good around here, but I tell you what, I reckon Garth is every bit a match for Lowndes, if not better because remember Tander has been racing something all year.
“He’s been racing a lot of cars, racing TCR, racing GTs; I think he’s more match fit and van Gisbergen wants that win.
“It’s his time because I think he’s learnt what not to do and he’s thrown it a few times around here. I think he’s learnt how to win it and I’ll put my money on them for the win to be honest.”
With regard to a dark horse for the race, Ingall has offered up the #8 Brad Jones Racing entry of Nick Percat and Tim Blanchard.
“Everyone’s going to throw the (David) Reynolds/(Luke) Youlden thing as a dark horse; take your pick,” he added.
“If you want to go really dark (it) is Nick Percat. (You) can’t forget that he’s actually won this race as a co-driver; his performances this year have actually been pretty good.
“(Tim Blanchard is sensible) and that’s what it takes.
“Everyone goes ‘Blanchard is going to be too slow because he hasn’t raced anything’ and all the rest of it, but you think of the Paul Morris/Chaz Mostert (in 2014).
“At the end of the day Paul was quite a bit off the pace to Chaz, but he was reliable.
“Yes, he put it in the tyre wall, but he got it out and got it back to the pits to be repaired; a lot of others would have just got out of the thing and left it there.
“He didn’t blow the gearbox up doing it and it’s all that sort of knowledge; at the end of the day you’re just going to need someone that’s reliable that’s not going to damage the thing and so gives it back to the main driver and comes up with a win.
“If you want a smokey, that’s it.”
The Bathurst 1000 begins today with opening practice scheduled for 0955 local time/AEDT.