ONLY one car in the 2021 field has a previous Repco Bathurst 1000 victory to its name – last year’s winner, the #97 Holden of Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander – while seven chassis will make their maiden ‘Great Race’ start this year.
The other 17 cars that will line up on the grid on December 5 all have their own stories of highs and lows at Mount Panorama.
Take the #3 Ford Mustang that Tim Slade and Tim Blanchard will race: this car is the veteran of the fleet with five previous Bathurst 1000 starts on its CV.
The Tickford Racing-built car’s first two starts ended disastrously: a brake disc failure in 2016 sent Mark Winterbottom spinning into the gravel at The Chase, while Cam Waters and Richie Stanaway led the most laps in 2017 only to tangle with teammate Chaz Mostert on a late-race restart.
It ran as 23 Red Racing’s entry for Will and Alex Davison in 2018 and 2019, taking 10th place as a Mustang in the latter, a result repeated by James Courtney and Broc Feeney in last year’s race.
The car’s last visit to Mount Panorama in February met with mixed results: Slade qualified the car on the front row for the Saturday leg of the Mount Panorama 500 and was on track for a podium finish until a late-race crash that left it too badly damaged to start the Sunday race.
The oldest car in the race only has three Bathurst 1000 starts to its name.
The #34 Holden of Jake and Kurt Kostecki made its first ‘Great Race’ start in 2014 as the #888 Holden Commodore VF of Craig Lowndes/Steven Richards, which finished the race in 10th place despite a spectacular practice crash and late-race penalty.
It had to wait five years for its next appearance, upgraded to ZB Commodore trim for Jake and cousin Brodie Kostecki to race as a wildcard in 2019, while Jake and Zane Goddard raced it in 2020.
The #34 Holden is one of six Triple Eight-built cars that are being campaigned by other teams.
Matt Stone Racing’s other entry, the #35 of Zane Goddard/Jayden Ojeda, famously lost a wheel during its Bathurst debut in 2018 when Whincup and Paul Dumbrell salvaged a 10th-place finish but has failed to make the chequered flag in either of its ‘Great Race’ starts with MSR.
Both of Team 18’s Holdens came from Triple Eight – one supplied with proven Mountain pedigree.
The current #20 Holden of Scott Pye/James Golding made two Bathurst starts with Triple Eight, highlighted by Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander’s drive to second place in 2019, while Pye drove it to sixth last year with Dean Fiore.
The sister #18 Holden of Mark Winterbottom/Michael Caruso was built brand new for Team 18 for 2019 and appears to have an affinity for the Mountain.
It has a perfect record of two top-10 finishes in both its Bathurst 1000 starts to date, while Winterbottom piloted it to fourth and fifth-place finishes at February’s Mount Panorama 500.
The two Team Sydney Holdens also originate from Triple Eight; the #19 Commodore of Fabian Coulthard/Jonathon Webb has three starts and three finishes to its name with a best of 12th last year, while the #22 of Garry Jacobson/Dylan O’Keeffe was Team 18’s entry for its first three starts (2016-18) but achieved its best Bathurst finish with the formerly-Tekno squad with 16th last year.
The other Triple Eight-built car on the grid is the team’s wildcard entry for Broc Feeney and Russell Ingall, which served as Jamie Whincup/Craig Lowndes’ #888 entry in 2019 and 2020.
Both of Erebus Motorsport’s entries have ‘Great Race’ history – one of them is a past polesitter!
The car Brodie Kostecki will share with David Russell is the same car Kostecki raced last year with Anton De Pasquale, which scored ninth place in its Bathurst debut.
The #9 Holden of Will Brown and Jack Perkins made its debut in 2018 when David Reynolds put it on pole position and dominated the race with Luke Youlden until cramping took Reynolds out of the lead; the duo raced it to fifth place the following year.
The other past polesitter in the field is the #44 Ford of James Courtney and Thomas Randle.
Cam Waters qualified that car on pole and finished second with Will Davison in last year’s race, ending a streak of bad luck at Bathurst: its previous two starts with Waters in both 2018 and 2019 were scuppered by collisions with teammate Mostert.
The #2 Holden of Bryce Fullwood and Warren Luff also has podium pedigree.
Their car is the same one Luff and Scott Pye drove to second place in the 2018 race in the car’s Bathurst debut. The same duo drove it to seventh a year later, while Fullwood and Kurt Kostecki endured a difficult race last year that ended with a crash on top of the Mountain.
All four of Brad Jones Racing’s fleet have previous Mount Panorama lineage, the oldest being the #4 Holden of Jack Smith/David Wall.
The same car Smith and Jack Perkins drove in last year’s race, it endured a bruising debut in 2016 when Jason Bright and Andrew Jones’ race ended after a brake disc failure put the latter into the wall at Sulman Park.
The car led late in the following year’s race, driven by Nick Percat and Macauley Jones, but retired on the penultimate lap, and posted its sole ‘Great Race’ finish with Jones and Dean Canto in 2019.
BJR’s #14 and #96 entries both have three starts to their names and their own tales of Mount Panorama woe.
The former has carried the #14 in all three of its previous Bathurst starts but has finished only in its debut in 2018, and even then Tim Slade limped home with a punctured tyre.
The following year was worse: Slade and Ash Walsh’s race ended in the wall on the run up to Reid Park on the opening lap, while a crash from rookie Jordan Boys put he and Todd Hazelwood out last year.
The #96 entry made its first Bathurst start as BJR’s #8 car in 2018 and struck a kangaroo during its first practice session on the Mountain.
Percat and Jones rebounded to finish seventh but battled power steering problems throughout the race, an issue that afflicted the chassis again in 2019 and restricted Percat and Tim Blanchard to 14th, while Jones and Blanchard drove it to 13th last year.
Percat will make his final start for BJR aboard the same car he raced last year, when he made his third consecutive Top 10 Shootout but finished a delayed 18th after another power steering problem.
Kelly Grove Racing’s #26 Ford, set to be shared this year by Reynolds and Youlden, has a similar story.
It made its debut in last year’s race and was delayed by a mechanical issue: Rick Kelly and Dale Wood finished 17 laps down in 17th place after a long stop to replace the clutch.