THE fact just two driver pairings in the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000 field have carried over from last year is a far cry from the days of long-lasting Great Race partnerships.
Triple Eight duos Shane van Gisbergen/Garth Tander and Jamie Whincup/Craig Lowndes are the continued combos, and even the latter may well be in its final year.
With Whincup set to retire from full-time driving, he’s likely to co-drive one of the main Triple Eight cars next year while Lowndes is potentially moved to a wildcard.
The Whincup/Lowndes combination is one of the most celebrated in the race’s history thanks to three straight wins from 2006-08.
This year will be their seventh start together, which will also put them equal eighth on the list of most Bathurst 1000 starts as a pairing.
It’s a list that features a mix of high-profile duos and low-budget privateers, who were for so long an integral part of the Great Race.
=8) Mark Winterbottom/Steven Richards, 7 starts
Years covered: 2007-09, 2011-13, 2019
Best result: 1st (2013)
This duo finally broke through for Winterbottom’s maiden Bathurst victory in their sixth start together at Ford Performance Racing in 2013, before Richards was poached by Triple Eight.
They had a reunion at Triple Eight customer squad Team 18 in 2019, which remains five-time race winner Richards’ last Bathurst 1000 start.
=8) Jamie Whincup/Paul Dumbrell, 7 starts
Years covered: 2012-2018
Best result: 1st (2012)
Friends from their high school years in Melbourne, Whincup and Dumbrell teamed up at Triple Eight in 2012 after the latter stepped back from full-time driving elsewhere.
They won in their first year together before a series of near-misses, including running out of fuel while leading on the last lap in 2014 and a controversial penalty in ’16.
=8) Larry Perkins/Russell Ingall, 7 starts
Years covered: 1995-2001
Best result: 1st (1995, 1997)
This partnership was formed in tragic circumstances as Perkins plucked Ingall from Europe to replace 1993 Bathurst-winning co-driver Gregg Hansford following the Queenslander’s tragic death early in ’95.
Perkins and Ingall scored a famous victory in their first Bathurst together in 1995 and won again two years later. They were split in 2002 when Ingall teamed with Steven Richards, before Ingall left the team.
=6) Mark Skaife/Jim Richards, 8 starts
Years covered: 1989-95, 2002
Best result: 1st (1991, 1992, 2002)
Skaife and Richards took consecutive wins in 1991 and ’92 aboard Gibson Motorsport’s fearsome Nissan GT-Rs; the latter race famously followed by Richards’ ‘pack of arseholes’ podium speech.
While they were unable to add to their success during three subsequent years in Gibson Holdens, a reunion at the Holden Racing Team in 2002 brought success, and a ‘pack of lovely, lovely people’ podium quip from JR!
=6) Brian Callaghan/Barry Graham, 8 starts
Years covered: 1983-1990
Best result: 6th (1988)
These two Sydney-based speedway racers teamed up in a succession of cars owned by mobile concreting king Callaghan for eight consecutive years from 1983.
This true privateer effort scored a best result sixth in a VL Commodore in 1988. Graham missed the 1991 race but then teamed with Brian Callaghan Jr in Bill O’Brien’s Everlast VL from 1992-1994.
5) Barry Seton/Don Smith, 9 starts
Years covered: 1974-80, 1982, 1984
Best result: 7th (1979)
This pairing is most famous for scoring class victories (and top 10 outright finishes) in the Great Race aboard Ford Capris in 1976, 1977 and 1980, to add to Seton’s outright win in 1965.
But their efforts together started with an XU-1 Torana in 1974, included runs in A9Xs in 1978 and ’79, and a final hitout aboard a Mustang in the Group A class of the ’84 race.
=3) Dick Johnson/John Bowe, 10 starts
Years covered: 1988-97
Best result: 1st (1989, 1994)
Bathurst partnerships don’t come much more revered than this one; DJ and JB shared a series of Sierras and Falcons over a 10-year stretch that included two Great Race wins.
They were finally split in 1998 so that Dick could team with son Steven, before Bowe left for the new CAT Racing outfit at year’s end.
=3) Kevin Kennedy/Scotty Taylor, 10 starts
Years covered: 1977-86
Best result: 6th, 1979
These fun-loving privateers first teamed up in state-level racing before tackling 10 straight Bathurst 1000s together in Toranas and then Commodores (the first of which was a six-cylinder variant in 1980!).
They had an enviable record of eight finishes from 10 starts and their best of sixth in 1979 came despite late-race brake trouble. They attempted an 11th start in a Starion in 1988 but failed to qualify.
2) Peter Doulman/John Cotter, 12 starts
Years covered: 1989-2000
Best result: 13th, 1996
Doulman and Cotter’s 12 consecutive starts together are evenly split; the first six sharing BMW M3s before six more in Perkins Engineering-built Commodore V8s.
Their best outright finish stands as 13th in 1996, but Doulman’s effort to qualify as top privateer for the Primus 1000 a year later stands as his personal highlight.
1) Trevor Ashby/Steve Reed, 16 starts
Years covered: 1986-2001
Best result: 8th (1997)
School friends turned smash repair business partners, this pair of Sydneysiders stand as Bathurst’s most enduring partnership having contested the race together 16 times, all consecutive.
Running their own low-budget privateer Holden effort each year from 1986, they chalked up eight finishes including a best of eight in 1997, then sharing a Wayne Gardner Racing-built Commodore.