Top contenders for Bathurst 1000 V8 race

LEADING DRIVER PAIRINGS IN THE 2015 BATHURST 1000

RED BULL RACING AUSTRALIA (Car No.1, Holden Commodore)

JAMIE WHINCUP (AUS)

Age: 32

Bathurst starts: 13

Best result: Four wins (2006, 07, 08, 12)

PAUL DUMBRELL (AUS)

Age: 33

Bathurst starts: 14

Best result: Win (2012)

Whincup might be having his worst season in years but he’ll still be among the contenders at Bathurst. He and Paul Dumbrell snared pole position for the Sandown 500 before a bad fuel strategy play and a punctured tyre halted their bid to win the opening endurance race of the season. Dumbrell is one of the quickest and most reliable co-drivers in the field.

PEPSI MAX CREW PRA (Car No.5, Ford Falcon)

MARK WINTERBOTTOM (AUS)

Age: 34

Bathurst starts: 12

Best result: Win (2013)

STEVE OWEN (AUS)

Age: 40

Bathurst starts: 16

Best result: 2nd (2010)

Can anyone stop Mark Winterbottom in 2015? The 2013 Bathurst champion has been the dominant driver all year and teamed up with Owen to win the Sandown 500 last month. Prodrive Racing Australia’s Falcons have been the quickest cars all year so should be favourites heading to Mount Panorama.

PEPSI MAX CREW PRA (Car No.6, Ford Falcon)

CHAZ MOSTERT (AUS)

Age: 23

Bathurst starts: 2

Best result: Win (2014)

CAMERON WATERS (AUS)

Age: 21

Bathurst starts: 3

Best result: 12th (2014)

One of the youngest and most inexperienced pairings in this year’s race but Mostert is a championship contender and the defending Bathurst champion after his amazing last-to-first effort in the 2014 race. This new pairing showed their potential at last month’s Sandown 500, coming second behind Winterbottom and Owen.

RED BULL RACING AUSTRALIA (Car No.888, Holden Commodore)

CRAIG LOWNDES (AUS)

Age: 41

Bathurst starts: 21

Best result: Five wins (1996, 2006, 07, 08, 10)

STEVEN RICHARDS (NZ)

Age: 43

Bathurst starts: 23

Best result: Three wins (1998, 1999, 2013)

The multiple Bathurst winning veterans head to Mount Panorama after a Sandown 500 they’ll be desperate to forget. Lowndes’ championship title challenge for 2015 appears to have come to an end but there’s no reason he can’t wrangle his Red Bull Commodore into shape for another Bathurst win. Richards is a steady and reliable co-driver with a proven record at the mountain.

TEAM TEKNO DARRELL LEA (Car No.97, Holden Commodore)

SHANE VAN GISBERGEN (NZ)

Age: 26

Bathurst starts: 8

Best result: 6th (2011)

JONATHON WEBB (AUS)

Age: 31

Bathurst starts: 9

Best result: 6th (2012)

Team Tekno’s first podium in 18 months at the Sandown 500 couldn’t have come at a better time for Shane Van Gisbergen and team owner Jonathon Webb. This pairing is a legitimate outside bet if they can bring that reliability to Mount Panorama given Van Gisbergen’s racing ability and pace, which makes him a danger to the usual front-runners.

HOLDEN RACING TEAM (Car No.2, Holden Commodore)

GARTH TANDER (AUS)

Age: 38

Bathurst starts: 16

Best result: Three wins (2000, 09, 11)

WARREN LUFF

Age: 39

Bathurst starts: 13

Best result: 3rd (2012, 13)

Garth Tander and Darth Vader share similarities as tall, imposing figures who can display a ruthless streak when necessary. So having Tander’s Holden painted with Star Wars “dark side” artwork for the Bathurst 1000 seems appropriate. First challenge for this pairing will be making the start line after missing out last year when Luff was involved in a heavy crash in practice which wrecked their Commodore.

HOLDEN RACING TEAM (Car No.22, Holden Commodore)

JACK PERKINS (AUS)

Age: 29

Bathurst starts: 9

Best result: 8th (2008, 11, 13)

RUSSELL INGALL

Age: 51

Bathurst starts: 23

Best finish: Two wins (1995, 97)

With regular driver James Courtney still sidelined due to injuries suffered in a freak pitlane incident at Sydney Motorsport Park, Jack Perkins and Russell Ingall will steer the second HRT Commodore at Mount Panorama. A solid ninth at the Sandown 500 gives the pair confidence while Ingall will be better for the practice after being rushed into the seat from the commentary booth.

Ingall won the great race with Perkins’ father Larry in 1995, can the veteran repeat the feat with the son 20 years later?

THE BOTTLE-O RACING TEAM (Car No.55, Ford Falcon)

DAVID REYNOLDS

Age: 30

Bathurst starts: 7

Best finish: 2nd (2012)

DEAN CANTO

Age: 34

Bathurst starts: 16

Best finish: 2nd (2012)

Prodrive Racing Australia’s dominance has extended to the Bottle-O backed Falcon of Dave Reynolds. The 30-year-old sits third behind stablemates Mark Winterbottom and Chaz Mostert heading to Mount Panorama, where he has enjoyed some of his most exciting days behind the wheel. His partnership with Dean Canto is well established and the pair proved with a runner-up finish in 2012 they can deliver on the mountain.

DJR TEAM PENSKE (Car No.17, Ford Falcon)

SCOTT PYE

Age: 25

Bathurst starts: 3

Best finish: 6th (2013)

MARCOS AMBROSE

Age: 39

Bathurst starts: 5

Best finish: 4th (2004)

Marcos Ambrose’s vaunted return to V8 Supercars hasn’t gone to plan but the Tasmanian is back racing in time for another crack at Mount Panorama. For a driver with such a storied history, Ambrose is desperate to add Bathurst success to his CV. A 12th place finish at Sandown was solid but Ambrose will be better for the time behind the wheel and, after a rough start, DJR Team Penske’s results are improving. A possible dark horse.

WALKINSHAW PERFORMANCE (Car No.18, Holden Commodore)

LEE HOLDSWORTH

Age: 32

Bathurst starts: 11

Best finish: 3rd (2009)

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS

Age: 36

Bathurst starts: 0

Best finish: N/A

Sebastien Bourdais may not have experience of Mount Panorama but comes to Bathurst with an impeccable international driving record. His past displays in a V8 Supercar show the Frenchman is a quick learner and his partnership with Lee Holdsworth delivered a solid seventh-place finish at Sandown last month. With a bit of luck and a reliable car they could be an outside chance for honours.

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