It’s just under a week until the action at this year’s SuperCheap Auto Bathurst 1000 gets underway, marking the biggest event on the Australian motorsport calendar. Despite now being a six hour sprint race, the annual pilgrimage to Mount Panorama will always be special for team and drivers alike who would all give their eye teeth to have their name engraved on the Peter Brock trophy
Even though anything can and will happen at Bathurst, after the Sandown 500, the picture has become clearer as to who may make the top five when the flag drops at the end of the day. Here are our top five predictions for the Great Race in no particular order.
- Chaz Mostert and Cameron Waters silenced their critics at the Sandown 500 by showing that they undoubtedly have old heads on young shoulders. Mostert’s ability to race hard and fair as well as Waters’ determination to use the endurance rounds as a job application for a seat at Prodrive next year, will all but ensure that they’ll be putting in 100% at Bathurst. The #6 Pepsi Max Falcon has shown excellent speed on flowing circuits so far this year, an attribute that will help climbing up and going down the mountain.
- Shane van Gisbergen and Jonathon Webb have a score to settle after last year’s heartbreak with the car stalling in the pits with a broken starter motor, putting them out of the lead. Last year’s pole sitter, van Gisbergen showed that he can put in a one-lap flyer around the track and will be out to put in a flawless performance in the race. Being the team owner of Tekno Autosports, Webb is going to try to drive fast and clean, attempting to prove the professional of him and his team in their search for a full-time driver for 2016.
- Mark Winterbottom and Steve Owen proved to be the pair to beat at Sandown, showing genuine car speed as well as good strategy calls. After being taken out late-race last year, they’ll be looking to nab a win at the on the mountain this year. While ‘Frosty’ already broke his duck and won in 2013, Owen wants a 1000 win badly after being in the series as a driver for many years. These two will be looking to spearhead Prodrive’s campaign for a third straight Ford Bathurst win.
- David Reynolds and Dean Canto have had a great partnership over the past few years, especially at Bathurst. The odd couple have been searching for a win since their stellar second place in 2012, despite being in a strong position to win last year before their car’s alternator failed. Reynolds is not only fighting for his current seat next year but also for a drive in a high-ranked team for 2016. Meanwhile, Canto is just going to be pushing harder and harder for his first Bathurst win.
- Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell are always a force to be reckoned with when we get to the endurance races. After their drive at Sandown where a win was certain until an unfortunate and odd problem forced them to pit twice within a few laps, they will yet again be looking to outclass a majority of the field. Their pace was ominous, especially given that Dumbrell is as quick, if not quicker than some full-time drivers. This, and the fact that Whincup is essentially out of the championship hunt means that more than ever, they can afford to push for yet another Bathurst 1000 victory.
While there are many other contenders who can potentially win the Bathurst 1000, these are the top five pairings who will undoubtedly be up at the pointy end of the field throughout the weekend. Given the close place of all the pairings, we could be in for yet another cracking race. If last year’s event and the season so far are anything to go by, this is going to be another great chapter in the story of the Great Race.