The Bathurst 1000 has long been Australia’s premier motorsport race – An endurance race of 1000km (620 mi) that forms a round of the Australian Supercar championship. Dubbed “The Great Race” it was first held in the rural town of Bathurst in 1963 and has since been an integral part of Australian motorsport history, showcasing an exclusive Ford v Holden rivalry until recent years.
Located upon Mount Panorama, the 6.2 km (4 mi) long track is technically a street circuit, deemed a public road when racing events are not being held. Existing residences around the perimeter can only be accessed from the circuit.
Held in similar regard to other world-famous circuits as Le Mans, Spa-Francorchamps and the Nurburgring, the track bestows characteristics that are not found at many tracks. Namely the off-camber corners, blind peaks, change in elevation and the close proximity of concrete walls, trees and mountain cliffs! The annual 1000km (621.371 mi) even holds similar prestige in Australia as the Indianapolis and Daytona 500 races.
With V8 Supercars being seen as Australia’s premiere motorsport category, the race is always well attended and this year was no exception. With a population of only 35,000 people the town explodes with accommodation difficult to come by. Official attendance numbers indicated over 200,000 tickets were sold.
I made my annual pilgrimage to the event to catch up with old friends and grab some shots of the action, as well as revisiting the unique people, atmosphere and events that transpire at the top of the mountain.
Saturday’s top 10 qualifying event was taken out by the 88 Red Bull Racing entry of Jamie Whincup whom claimed the pole. He was followed by the GRM Volvo of Scott McLaughlin, with third being claimed by Chaz Mostert in the Supercheap Auto Holden.
Sunday’s race enjoyed a subdued start, all cars and drivers getting away from the standing start cleanly. The race continued with minimal incident, the 88 Red Bull pole car leading the way. It was some 90 laps before the first safety car yellow after Jason Bright’s BOC Holden crashed heavily at the top of the track. The remaining 70 laps of the 161 lap event saw a number of cars retire, and crash prompting multiple caution periods.
The race came down to a spectacular 15 laps, where an extraordinary mishap between the 88 car of Whincup, the 33 car of McLaughlin and the Holden Racing Team car 2 of Garth Tander all collided. The 88 car would continue from the wreck, but later received a 15 second time penalty, handing the race to eventual winner Will Davidson in the 19 Tekno Autosport car, with the 97 car of Shane Van Gisbergen (Red Bull Holden) runner-up and Nick Percat in the 222 LD Motorsport car third.