Predictions: Who will win the 2021 Bathurst 1000

The 2020 Bathurst 1000 podium

It’s Bathurst week.

This year, the Repco Bathurst 1000 will almost literally be a week-long festival, with track action commencing tomorrow for many of the event’s support categories.

But all eyes are already somewhat fixated on Sunday 12:15 (local time/AEDT), when the 2021 edition of the Great Race gets underway.

With the Supercars Championship crown decided earlier this month in Shane van Gisbergen’s favour, it’s all or nothing for the 25-car field in pursuit of the coveted Peter Brock Trophy…

Brett “Crusher” Murray, founder and owner

WIN: Jamie Whincup/Craig Lowndes, #88 Triple Eight Race Engineering ZB Commodore

ROUGHIE: Brodie Kostecki/David Russell, #99 Erebus Motorsport ZB Commodore

When you are looking for a winner of the Great Race there are a million variables, but the one you have to start with is the drivers.

If you pick out the best five driver combinations in the race, you can almost be assured that the winner will come from one of them.

That being the yardstick, Sunday it is pretty hard to go past the two Red Bull Ampol cars of Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes, and Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander – and they are my pick for the race.

I give Whincup and Lowndes the win on the pure notion of The Mountain giving us another “fairytale” result.

Whincup winning the last race of his full-time career and Roland Dane collecting another trophy as he departs his own career as team boss would be a fitting result.

No one comes close in regards to success or experience at The Mountain and when you add the professionalism of the most successful team in the sport’s history, it is hard go past the boys from Banyo.

Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes

Padding out the podium I see the Walkinshaw Andretti United pairing of Chaz Mostert and Lee Holdsworth.

There will be a few more variables this week with the predicted rain and so many other support categories on track – a constant look at the timesheets and data will be important.

There are plenty of seriously good co-drivers in this year’s event who can get the job done and do enough to keep their car and full-time team-mate in the fight.

The good odds and the smart money is looking at the top six and top 10 betting, not necessarily the outright victory.

Connor O’Brien, editor

WIN: Cameron Waters/James Moffat, #6 Tickford Racing Mustang

ROUGHIE: Scott Pye/James Golding, #20 Team 18 ZB Commodore

Unpredictability is a great asset of the Bathurst 1000, so after three consecutive years where powerhouses Triple Eight and Dick Johnson Racing have taken the honours, I’m tipping a change this year.

It’s Cameron Waters and Tickford Racing’s year.

Waters was arguably the pick of the drivers in the 2020 edition, going oh so close to victory.

His Monster Energy Mustang was super fast at the Mount Panorama 500 in February also, and James Moffat has carved out a reputation as one of the championship’s premier co-drivers.

Tickford enters the event after a shocking four weeks at Sydney Motorsport Park, but they’ve tended to be a team that is very strong at some circuits and very weak at others – and Bathurst falls into the former category.

Cameron Waters. Picture: Dirk Klynsmith

Looking a little further left of field, I really like the Scott Pye/James Golding combination.

The #20 side of the Team 18 garage has pretty well always seemed geared towards race pace, and the Charlie Schwerkolt-led squad has shown strong pace at The Mountain in the past 12 months.

Pye comes in with a bit of momentum too, having made more gains from SMP1 to SMP4 than probably any other driver – and he’s got something of a Bathurst specialist in Golding by his side.

Daniel Herrero, deputy editor

WIN: Shane van Gisbergen/Garth Tander, #97 Triple Eight Race Engineering ZB Commodore

ROUGHIE: Brodie Kostecki/David Russell, #99 Erebus Motorsport ZB Commodore

It is difficult to see anyone stopping Triple Eight Race Engineering’s Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander again this year.

Van Gisbergen is champion already for a reason and even if he does not have the fastest car underneath him – as was the case last year, and also at February’s Mount Panorama 500 – you would back his racecraft to get the job done when the race is there to be won and lost.

As for Tander, he is the best co-driver in the field and this makes for a pairing which looks like something out of the days of old when teams were allowed to put whichever driver they wanted in any car.

Brodie Kostecki and David Russell

In terms of roughies, some within Erebus Motorsport might quibble about even being described as such, but Brodie Kostecki and David Russell look the goods.

Kostecki is a bit like a young van Gisbergen in his aggression behind the wheel, while Russell is seriously underrated, and the Erebus cars have been fast at Mount Panorama in recent times.

Simon Chapman, senior journalist

WIN: Shane van Gisbergen/Garth Tander, #97 Triple Eight Race Engineering ZB Commodore

ROUGHIE: Andre Heimgartner/Matt Campbell, #7 Kelly Grove Racing Mustang

This year really has been all about Shane van Gisbergen, so it’s hard to see how anyone other than he and Garth Tander will win the big dance.

It would seem their biggest threat is not from team-mates Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes but Anton De Pasquale and Tony D’Alberto.

De Pasquale has been blisteringly quick, although Dick Johnson Racing didn’t quite have the pace of Triple Eight Race Engineering or Tickford Racing at the season-opening Mount Panorama 500.

I expect van Gisbergen and Tander will go back-to-back, but perhaps not in as dominant a fashion as 2020.

Garth Tander (left) and Shane van Gisbergen

As for a roughie… rarely do wild weather predictions come to pass, but if December 5 is a wet affair then there’s one team that could stand tall.

Kelly Grove Racing has been particularly strong when it’s rained, especially Andre Heimgartner who claimed his first win in the wet at The Bend earlier this year in dominant fashion.

He’ll pair up with supersub Matt Campbell this year after Earl Bamber was ruled out of the Great Race.

Campbell struggled in the rain when he drove with van Gisbergen in 2017, but is far more experienced now than then.

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