Team 18 is in fine form and preparing to fight for a strong result heading into the greatest race on the Australian motorsport calendar, the Repco Bathurst 1000 at the Mount Panorama circuit this weekend.
The 62nd running of the The Great Race will mark a milestone for IRWIN Racing’s Mark Winterbottom, who will line up for his 20th Bathurst 1000.
“I think that the car has definitely had a good birthday in a short amount of time, there’s a lot of new bits on it and it feels really good,” said Winterbottom.
“I’m really excited, I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and would love to win it again. It’s a massive race, last year for Holden, last year for the Commodore, and it’s my 20th race so would love to win it.”
Winterbottom will team-up with Supercars race winner Michael Caruso in the #18 IRWIN Racing Team 18 Holden ZB Commodore, with the duo making one of the most experienced and strongest driver-pairings on the grid this year.
Winterbottom and Caruso are looking to lean on their experience and expertise at the mountain to boost their chances of success this weekend.
“Bathurst is our biggest event of the year and the one that everyone wants to win. It’s a long week, Mark’s very well experienced and understands what’s required and I feel like I’ve got a good handle of knowing what to expect over the race weekend,” said Caruso.
“Pumped to get up there, expecting some huge crowds and support, after what’s been a tough couple of years at Bathurst, so really looking forward to getting up there and mixing it with everybody.”
Scott Pye will make his 11th Bathurst 1000 start this year and will team up with local hero Tyler Everingham in the #20 Alspec Racing Holden ZB Commodore.
Pye heads to the mountain off the back of a string of strong results, with the fifth-best points tally of the field from the last two events at Sandown and Pukekohe.
“This race is the one we look forward to all year, and it’s been a pretty tough season, we’ve had some great results just recently, so we have good momentum heading into Bathurst. But there’s a quick way to turn around a tough year and that’s by winning The Great Race. I’m extremely focussed, very excited and can’t wait to get on track,” said Pye.
“I think this year’s race is going to be bigger than ever, I’m expecting to see a lot of fans, and hopefully if we win the race on Sunday.”
Everingham is born and bred in the Central West of New South Wales in Dubbo and is the only driver hailing from the Central West region of New South Wales on the grid this weekend. Everingham, who will make his second start in The Great Race this year, is a member of the Bathurst Light Car Club which is based at Mount Panorama and joins the squad in form during a race winning Super2 season which he will also race in this weekend.
Pye and Everingham feel they are carrying strong momentum into The Great Race and look forward to hitting the track for practice on Thursday.
“After our test day I feel very comfortable in the Alspec Racing car, we’ve made great improvements so I’m feeling very confident heading into Bathurst,” said Everingham.
“It’s exciting to be heading to Bathurst as a driver from the Central West region and representing Dubbo in not only the biggest race in Australia but one of the most iconic races in the world, I can’t wait to hit the track.”
The Bathurst 1000 features a unique four-day format, with drivers battling to win the prestigious Peter Brock Trophy in honour of the nine-time Bathurst 1000 winner.
Cars first hit the track on Thursday with two practice sessions, one at 11am for all drivers and another at 3:55pm for co-drivers.
Friday is qualifying day, with two further practice sessions at 10:10am and 1:00pm before the all-important qualifying session at 4:15pm.
Saturday’s action will see two more practice sessions at 10:20am and 1:00pm, before the Top 10 Shootout at 5:05pm to set the grid for The Great Race.
Race day kicks off with a warm-up session at 8:00am, before Race 30 of the 2022 Repco Supercars Championship, the Repco Bathurst 1000, kicks off at 11:15am for 161 laps.]
All the action can be viewed live on Fox Sports and Kayo, with free-to-air coverage live on Channel 7 across the weekend, starting on Friday.