Words: Mike Ryan
Photos: DJR Team Penske, Supercars, Ford
After a long layoff due to COVID complications, the Repco Supercars Championship rebooted in October and will wrap up another challenging season at Mount Panorama. But the 2021 Repco Bathurst will come with some changes from what we’re used to…
Late . . . and Later
The first thing to get your head around is that this year’s Bathurst 1000 will be held in December, rather than the usual early October date.
The reason for this, of course, is the congoing disruption to the 2021 Supercars calendar caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Supercars managed to bank seven rounds and 19 races before the borders slammed shut, leaving a period of more than three months between leg two of the Townsville double header and the resumption of racing at Sydney Motorsport Park in late October.
To make up for such a long period without racing, this year’s Repco Bathurst 1000 will be part of a six-day motorsport festival. The 1000 is the headliner, of course, but there’ll be nine support categories, including S5000, Touring Car Masters, Australian GT, TCR, Carrera Cup, the Dunlop Series (Super2 and Super3 on a combined grid), Trans Am, the Toyota Gazoo Racing Australian 86 Series and V8 SuperUtes.
It all kicks off Tuesday, 30 November, but the Supercars don’t go on track until Thursday, 2 December. The total of six practice sessions remain (three for main drivers, three for co-drivers), but are now spread across three days. Two practice sessions will be held on Thursday, 2 December, followed by two more and qualifying on Friday, 3 December. Two further practice sessions on Saturday, 4 December, lead up to the Top Ten Shootout at 5:05PM. Then the countdown begins.
But that countdown will run a little longer this year, as the race start is scheduled for 12:15PM – that’s the latest in Bathurst history.
While the date for the race can be explained by the pandemic, the time for the race start is something of a mystery, but one suggestion is that the later start will - hopefully - see the final laps conducted in cooler evening temperatures.
Given a normal race duration of 161 laps, this year's late start means a chequered flag won’t be seen until around 7 o’clock, but evening news services on free-to-air coverage will apparently be rescheduled to accommodate the change.
2021 Repco Bathurst 1000 schedule (Supercars only)*
DATE TIME SESSION
Thursday, 2 December 10:00-11:00 Practice 1
Thursday, 2 December 16:15-17:15 Practice 2 (co-drivers)
Friday, 3 December 10:45-11:45 Practice 3 (co-drivers)
Friday, 3 December 13:35-14:35 Practice 4
Friday, 3 December 16:35-17:15 Qualifying
Saturday, 4 December 10:15-11:15 Practice 5 (co-drivers)
Saturday, 4 December 12:15-13:15 Practice 6
Saturday, 4 December 17:05 Top Ten Shootout
Sunday, 5 December 09:15-09:35 Warm Up
Sunday, 5 December 12:15 Race (161 laps)
*subject to change
Driver lineups for Bathurst had been all but decided at time of writing, with only Matt Stone Racing yet to finalise their pairings.
The notable absentee is Scott McLaughlin. The current Supercars Champion is unable to make the trip out from the US due to his IndyCar duties, combined with travel complications and the likelihood of a two-week quarantine.
The date change to December means that two-time Le Mans 24 Hour winner, Earl Bamber, will have to pass up a Bathurst start, his seat at Kelly Grove Racing going to Matt Campbell.
Alex Premat, an experienced Supercars campaigner and Bathurst starter, is another victim of COVID-related travel complications and will give up his planned seat with Tickford Racing to Zak Best, who will make his Supercar debut at the Great Race.
After last year’s Bathurst 1000 saw seven debutants, Best is the only named driver who’ll be making his debut this year and will be combining a Supercars start with Super2 duties.
The rest of the field has main game experience at Bathurst – some much more than others!
2021 Repco Bathurst 1000 driver pairings (as of 20/10/21)
Team Car Driver Co-Driver
Red Bull Ampol Racing Commodore #97 Shane van Gisbergen Garth Tander
Red Bull Ampol Racing Commodore #88 Jamie Whincup Craig Lowndes
Triple Eight Race Engineering* Commodore #39 Broc Feeney Russell Ingall
Shell V-Power Racing Team Mustang #17 Will Davison Alex Davison
Shell V-Power Racing Team Mustang #11 Anton De Pasquale Tony D’Alberto
Tickford Racing Mustang #6 Cameron Waters James Moffat
Tickford Racing Mustang #44 James Courtney Thomas Randle
Tickford Racing Mustang #5 Jack Le Brocq Zak Best
Walkinshaw Andretti United Commodore #25 Chaz Mostert Lee Holdsworth
Walkinshaw Andretti United Commodore #2 Bryce Fullwood Warren Luff
Erebus Motorsport Commodore #99 Brodie Kostecki David Russell
Erebus Motorsport Commodore #9 Will Brown Jack Perkins
Erebus Motorsport* Commodore #51 Greg Murphy Richie Stanaway
Team 18 Commodore #18 Mark Winterbottom Michael Caruso
Team 18 Commodore #20 Scott Pye James Golding
Brad Jones Racing Commodore #8 Nick Percat Dale Wood
Brad Jones Racing Commodore #4 Jack Smith Ash Walsh
Brad Jones Racing Commodore #14 Todd Hazelwood Dean Fiore
Brad Jones Racing Commodore #96 Macauley Jones Chris Pither
Team Sydney Commodore #19 Fabian Coulthard Jonathon Webb
Team Sydney Commodore #22 Garry Jacobson Dylan O’Keefe
Blanchard Racing Team Mustang #3 Tim Slade Tim Blanchard
Kelly Grove Racing Mustang #26 David Reynolds Luke Youlden
Kelly Grove Racing Mustang #7 Andre Heimgartner Matt Campbell
Matt Stone Racing Commodore #34 Jake Kostecki TBC
Matt Stone Racing Commodore #35 Zane Goddard TBC
Spectators – and Camping – Return
For Supercars fans, the great news is that grandstand and trackside seating at Mount Panorama has been expanded for 2021, while camping and paddock access returns.
Trackside ticket prices start at $111.00 per adult ($100.00 concession) for Sunday race day, stretching up to $189.00 per adult ($169.00 concession) for entry to all six days of the motorsport festival. Two-, three-, four- and five-day Trackside options are also available.
Kids under 12 can enter free with a paying adult and all Trackside (general admission) tickets can be bundled with a paddock pass at additional cost.
Paddock passes on their own are $40.00 each and valid for four days.
Grandstand seating along the Pit Straight and at the bottom of Mountain Straight was close to selling out at time of writing and will most likely have sold out by the time you read this.
Available grandstand seating is priced from $388.00 to $424.00 ($357.00 to $393.00 concession), and like the Trackside tickets, can be paired with paddock passes at extra cost.
In terms of camping at Mount Panorama, only a limited number of campsites will be available.
The Max Cameron Area A, B and C campsites are $260.00, Reid/Sulman campsites (A, B and C) and McPhillamy campsites (A and B) are $291.00. These all include 2 x car passes per site.
Pricing for the Motorhome campground starts at $683.00 per site.
Enduro and Orchard campgrounds sold out early and both Paddock ($352.00 per site) and Chase ($285.00 per site) campgrounds were close to selling out at time of writing.
All Trackside, Grandstand and Campground tickets are available through Ticketek – premier.ticketek.com.au – but are subject to availability.
NOTE: Several ticket options are likely to sell out ahead of the 5 December race, so JUST CARS strongly advise prospective spectators for this year’s Bathurst 1000 to check the pricing and confirm the availability of their preferred ticket option with Ticketek before making further plans.
For more details on this year’s Repco Bathurst 1000, go to: supercars.com