All bets on for big race
Our chief reporter puts on his bookie’s hat
DEFENDING champions Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife are out to make more history at Mount Panorama this weekend. They are the prerace favourites again for the Bathurst 1000 after completing a perfect build-up in the Phillip Island 500.
Lowndes and Skaife have it all— speed, experience, cool heads, fitness, a fast car and a crack team. They are also the sentimental favourites, as it could be the last time Skaife races in the Bathurst 1000.
But none of the rivals is showing any sentimentality as they prepare for a race that is the closest thing in V8 Supercar racing to a football grand final.
Their rivals are led by their team-mates at TeamVodafone, two-time touring car champion Jamie Whincup and youngster Andrew Thompson, who are smarting after a narrow loss at Phillip Island. This followed a touch-up between the two cars that left them with a battered door and a four-second delay at their crucial driver change.
But there are more than a dozen others with Lowndes/ Skaife in their sights, from veteran and previous winner Russell Ingall to hero drivers— Garth Tander, Mark Winterbottom, James Courtney, Will Davison— at the factory-backed Holden Racing Team and Ford Performance Racing.
And then there are the speedy outsiders, led by Shane van Gisbergen in a Stone Brothers Commodore.
Here’s how Carsguide rates the field.
EVENMONEY Craig Lowndes/Mark Skaife, Commodore More than just sentimental favourites, with everything it takes to repeat their 2010 win. $2.50 Jamie Whincup/Andrew Thompson, Commodore Thompson’s pace in the wet is the weakness and it often rains at Bathurst. Whincup is desperate to win for the first time without Lowndes.
$3 Mark Winterbottom/Steven Richards, Falcon Frosty has the one-lap pace and Richards is a two-time winner but FPR continually finds new ways to lose in the big races. James Courtney/Cameron McConville, Commodore Both drivers have been solid at Bathurst but HRT has been dismal this year and they will need a major form reversal to win on speed. Garth Tander/Nick Percat, Commodore
Potentially the strongest threat to the TeamVodafone cars but Percat is not proven at Bathurst despite his stunning speed at Phillip Island.
$6 Shane van Gisbergen/John McIntyre, Falcon The Giz, an emerging star, has pace to burn but that is unlikely to help if he goes too hard or too early at Bathurst. A bit of luck could get him home. $9 Will Davison/Luke Youlden, Falcon The second FPR Falcon was strong at Phillip Island but Davison crashed at Bathurst last year and needs to re-invent himself to conquer the mountain.
Favourites: Mark Skaife and Craig Lowndes; $3 chance Garth Tander