Drivers predict ‘crazy, fast-paced’ Bathurst

Next month could provide the first sub-six-hour race in Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 history, with leading contenders tipping a fast-paced event.

The 2018 edition, won by Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards for Triple Eight, was run in a record 6 hours, 1 minute and 44 seconds.

That marker could be lowered again 12 months on, with drivers tipping even faster lap times and few Safety Cars due to the quality of the field.

Key to last year’s record was just three Safety Car interventions, with 155 of the 161 laps run under green.

Series leader Scott McLaughlin, who again teams with Frenchman Alex Premat, expects a hot pace to put more pressure on the co-drivers.

This year the co-drivers go straight into Bathurst without the traditional warm-up at Sandown, which has been moved to November.

“I think it’s going to be a very fast race,” said McLaughlin, whose co-driver is cutting laps at Ipswich today.

“It just gets faster and faster every year.

“It’s all going to really be about no mistakes, probably more so from the co-drivers I think.

“It’s a big ask, racing Bathurst straightaway but we’ve all got pretty decent ones in that front pack and I think everything should be alright.”

Shane van Gisbergen, who enters Mount Panorama as McLaughlin’s closest competitor in the overall standings some 598 points back, shares a similar view.

“It’s going to be a crazy race and pretty fast-paced I think,” van Gisbergen said.

“So having someone like Garth [Tander, co-driver] who can just slot in, especially being the first [endurance] race of the year…

“It’s going to be a fast race, flat out the whole way. It should be pretty good.”

Tickford Racing ace Chaz Mostert is third in the standings, just 10 points ahead of Fabian Coulthard.

Mostert says the fact McLaughlin holds such a big championship lead means no one will be going conservatively and racing for points.

“There’s a lot of guys that obviously the championship has gotten away from this year so if you win Bathurst, it’s the one thing that kind of erases the memory of your championship,” he said.

“It’s the one you want to win if you can’t win the championship so it’s going to be a lot of guys going gung-ho.

“Scotty is in a position where he has got enough points where he’s going to be going gung-ho, so it’s going to be on for young and old.”

The Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 will be held across October 10-13, with a new race start time of 11:30am AEDT for Sunday the 13th.

Fastest five Bathursts
2018 – 6:01:44.8637 (3 Safety Cars)
2013 – 6:11:27.9315 (2 Safety Cars)
2010 – 6:12:51.4153 (4 Safety Cars)
2012 – 6:16:01.3304 (6 Safety Cars)
2015 – 6:16:07.7064 (4 Safety Cars)

Last five Bathursts
2018 – 6:01:44.8637 (3 Safety Cars)
2017 – 7:11:45.5456 (6 Safety Cars, wet race)
2016 – 6:19:25.3237 (6 Safety Cars)
2015 – 6:16:07.7064 (4 Safety Cars)
2014 – 7:58:53.2052 (10 Safety Cars, including red flag)

Drivers predict ‘crazy, fast-paced’ Bathurst

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