THE BATHURST WINNERS THAT DIDN’T DEFEND THEIR CROWN

Premat and McLaughlin were victorious in 2019 at Bathurst. Tim Slade will share the #17 Mustang this year with the two-time and reigning Supercars Champion. Photo: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith.

THE COVID-19 pandemic and, more specifically, the lack of international travel, means that 2019 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 winner Alex Premat is going to be added to a unique list in ‘Great Race’ history.

The Frenchman, who won last October’s race with Scott McLaughlin in the #17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Ford Mustang GT, had signed to drive with Tickford Racing in this year’s event.

However, the world has changed a lot (perhaps the understatement of the year!) since his signing was announced in February and international travel isn’t what it was at the beginning of the year – so that got the team at V8 Sleuth HQ going through the files for ‘times a Bathurst 1000 winner hasn’t returned the following year to defend their crown’.

What we found was an exclusive club of which Premat looks like he’ll become the 11th card-carrying member of (or 12th, depending which way you look at it!).

The first was Midge Bosworth, who co-drove to victory with Barry ‘Bo’ Seton in a Cortina in 1965. After winning Bathurst on just his second attempt (aged just 24) he never raced again in the ‘Great Race’.

He’s not the only driver whose last ‘Great Race’ start came with a win – Harry Firth (1967), Graeme Bailey (1986) and Paul Morris (2014) are also members of that very exclusive club.

Paul Morris’ 2014 Bathurst 1000 win came in his 22nd Bathurst 1000 start. Photo: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith.
Graeme Bailey finished up his Bathurst 1000 career after winning in 1986. He and Allan Grice won in the Chickadee Commodore VK. Photo: an1images.com / Dale Rodgers.

Unsurprisingly there’s a handful of international drivers on the list, their winning trips to Bathurst one-off programs.

Rauno Aaltonen won with Bob Holden in a Mini in 1966 and wasn’t back in 1967 (in fact, he did make a second ‘Great Race’ start, many, many years later in 1991, also with Holden, though in a Toyota Corolla).

Armin Hahne won in 1985 with John Goss in the TWR-run Jaguar and the Walkinshaw-led team didn’t return the following year, while Swede Rickard Rydell won the two-litre race in 1998 with Jim Richards for Volvo – the Super Touring Bathurst event became a 500-kilometre race in ’99 and he didn’t return to the ‘Great Race’ until he co-drove a Triple Eight Falcon with Paul Radisich in 2003.

Swede Rydell was a jet in the Volvo S40 in 1998. 2m14.92s lap in the Shootout – amazing! Photo: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith.

Winners of the 1997 AMP Bathurst 1000, Geoff Brabham and David Brabham could both be on the list, though Geoff is one with a technicality and we’ve left him off the list.

While he didn’t compete in the ’98 AMP Bathurst 1000 for Super Tourers, he did race at Bathurst in ’98 as co-driver to Tony Longhurst in the Castrol Falcon in the V8 race – the FAI 1000 Classic.

So you could say that Geoff Brabham did return the following year, albeit not in the corresponding race he had won in ’97 in the Diet-Coke BMW 320i.

Ah the problems in stats and history content that those years of two Bathurst 1000km races brings!

1973 winner Ian Geoghegan wasn’t on the grid in 1974 though returned in 1975 to again share with his ’73 winning partner Allan Moffat, while 1975 winner Brian Sampson missed the ’76 race.

BATHURST 500/1000 WINNERS THAT DIDN’T DEFEND THEIR CROWN

Winning YearDriverNext Start (If Applicable)
1965Midge BosworthN/A
1966Rauno Aaltonen1991
1967Harry FirthN/A
1973Ian Geoghegan1975
1975Brian Sampson1977
1985Armin Hahne1987
1986Graeme BaileyN/A
1997David Brabham1999
1998Rickard Rydell2003
2014Paul MorrisN/A
With over 20 years in the Australian motorsport industry, Noonan is the head of V8 Sleuth. He’s held a range of roles including working in television with Seven and Ten, print media and public relations. With a specialty in Australian motorsport history, he’s known around racing paddocks as ’the Sleuth’ and started his motorsport media career in 1997.