THE Bathurst 1000 will once again be the only endurance race on the Supercars calendar in 2021, meaning there will be no Pirtek Enduro Cup for the second year in a row and just one race outing for co-drivers this year.
That fact, combined with the major changes in many Supercars teams’ main driver line-ups for 2021, has placed an even greater premium on securing an experienced co-driver.
Four of the most high-profile steerers among last year’s co-driver crop secured full-time seats this year: Will Davison at Dick Johnson Racing, Tim Slade at the new Blanchard Racing Team, and Will Brown and Brodie Kostecki at Erebus Motorsport.
EVERY CAR, EVERY DRIVER: 2021 Repco Supercars Championship Entry List
Conversely, a handful of last year’s main game drivers are expected to race as co-drivers come October.
Reigning Supercars Champion-turned-IndyCar Series rookie Scott McLaughlin is currently scheduled to share one of Dick Johnson Racing’s Fords.
However, the Kiwi’s role may depend on the evolution of COVID-19 restrictions over the course of the year: the current mandatory quarantine period for international visitors to Australia stands at 14 days, and there are just 10 between the final round of the IndyCar season (the rescheduled Grand Prix of Long Beach) on September 26 and opening practice at Bathurst on October 7.
One driver who is definitely locked in to drive for the squad is Tony D’Alberto, DJR confirming his recruitment with the following Tweet.
The campaign will mark D’Alberto’s 17th start in the Bathurst 1000 and his sixth in a row with Dick Johnson Racing.
Two time Bathurst 1000 winner Rick Kelly retired from full-time Supercars racing at the end of 2020 but it is not known if he will return in a co-driver role this year.
Several teams have either already announced their co-driver line-ups for 2021 or have drivers under existing contracts.
Kelly Grove Racing has confirmed its full co-driver lineup for 2021 with a pair of very highly-credentialed steerers.
Two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Earl Bamber will make his Supercars return to partner Andre Heimgartner for an all-Kiwi roster in the team’s #7 Ford.
Bamber impressed in his sole Supercars endurance stint so far in 2018 when he partnered Shane van Gisbergen at Triple Eight, the pair finishing second in the Sandown 500 and fifth at Bathurst.
“For me success at Mount Panorama in the 1000 is one of the items on my racing bucket list and to do it with André who’s a fellow Kiwi would be fantastic,” Bamber said.
“When I raced at the Bathurst 1000 in 2018 the atmosphere was incredible, the race means so much to the fans and the teams and it’s the one race that every single driver wants to win. It’s one of the coolest and most competitive endurance events that I’ve raced in.”
The team’s all-Australian #26 entry will see the return of Luke Youlden – who’d retired from co-driving at the end of 2019 – to reunite with his 2017 Bathurst 1000-winning partner David Reynolds.
Youlden will race full-time in the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia series and its hoped his regular seat time, allied with his good relationship with Reynolds and race engineer Alistair McVean, will help them add another Peter Brock Trophy to their tally.
Lee Holdsworth, who split with Tickford Racing in January, will join Walkinshaw Andretti United where he will partner Chaz Mostert, while WAU veteran Warren Luff pairs with Bryce Fullwood.
Triple Eight Race Engineering will have Craig Lowndes and Garth Tander on its roster once again this year, with the 2020 Bathurst-winning combination of Tander and Shane van Gisbergen expected to remain in place while Lowndes continues with Jamie Whincup in the latter’s final year of full-time Supercars racing.
Team 18 has confirmed that it has secured the services of Michael Caruso and retained James Golding for 2021 to partner with Mark Winterbottom and Scott Pye respectively.
Tickford has also announced its full co-driver lineup in Thomas Randle, James Moffat and Alex Premat, the 2019 Bathurst winner hoping to finally return to the Mountain to pursue a second Peter Brock Trophy.
Broc Feeney, who co-drive for Tickford last year, has joined Triple Eight for the team’s expanded two-car attack on this year’s Super2 Series, but team boss Roland Dane insists the 18-year-old is free to tackle Bathurst with another team.
Erebus Motorsport will pair experienced campaigners Jack Perkins and David Russell with its rookie full-timers Will Brown and Brodie Kostecki respectively.
Brad Jones Racing has confirmed all four of its co-drivers, each boasting significant Bathurst experience.
Former full-time Team Sydney driver Chris Pither joins Macauley Jones in the team’s Coca-Cola-backed #96 Holden.
Dale Wood rejoins the squad with which he raced full-time in 2014 and ’15 to partner Nick Percat in the R&J Batteries entry under a two-year deal.
Dean Fiore has landed at BJR to link with Todd Hazelwood, adding further experience to the line-up.
Fiore moves to BJR after a single year at Team 18. The West Aussie has a total of 12 Bathurst 1000 starts to his name, half of which came at Kelly Racing.
Ash Walsh rejoins BJR to partner Jack Smith. Walsh was a co-driver at BJR from 2016-19 but missed last year’s Bathurst due to a clashing accounting exam.
CONFIRMED CO-DRIVERS: 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000 (as of 12/4/2021)
|Dick Johnson Racing||Scott McLaughlin*||Ford Mustang GT|
|Dick Johnson Racing||Tony D’Alberto||Ford Mustang GT|
|Triple Eight Race Engineering||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore ZB|
|Triple Eight Race Engineering||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore ZB|
|Tickford Racing||James Moffat||Ford Mustang GT|
|Tickford Racing||Thomas Randle||Ford Mustang GT|
|Tickford Racing||Alex Premat||Ford Mustang GT|
|Blanchard Racing Team||Tim Blanchard||Ford Mustang GT|
|Erebus Motorsport||Jack Perkins||Holden Commodore ZB|
|Erebus Motorsport||David Russell||Holden Commodore ZB|
|Team 18||Michael Caruso||Holden Commodore ZB|
|Team 18||James Golding||Holden Commodore ZB|
|Walkinshaw Andretti United||Warren Luff||Holden Commodore ZB|
|Walkinshaw Andretti United||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore ZB|
|Brad Jones Racing||Dale Wood||Holden Commodore ZB|
|Brad Jones Racing||Ash Walsh||Holden Commodore ZB|
|Brad Jones Racing||Chris Pither||Holden Commodore ZB|
|Brad Jones Racing||Dean Fiore||Holden Commodore ZB|
|Kelly Grove Racing||Earl Bamber||Ford Mustang GT|
|Kelly Grove Racing||Luke Youlden||Ford Mustang GT|