Team 18 is primed and ready for the exciting return of the Sandown 500, with the ninth event of the 2023 Repco Supercars Championship this weekend at Sandown Raceway, 15-17 September.
This iconic event is particularly special for the team, with the Sandown circuit conveniently located just 7 kilometres away from their Mount Waverley Headquarters in South-Eastern Melbourne.
Returning after a hiatus since 2019, the Sandown 500 is a true classic, having first graced the racing calendar in 1964. This event has historically served as a precursor to the prestigious Bathurst 1000, and its resurgence promises to deliver an action-packed weekend featuring the first long-distance race for the Gen3 Supercars.
DEWALT Racing’s Mark Winterbottom, a two-time Sandown 500 winner, can’t wait to hit the track after a four-year absence of the Sandown enduro. Winterbottom will be teaming up with Supercars race-winner Michael Caruso for the third consecutive year in the endurance races.
In the Toyota Forklifts Camaro, Scott Pye will reunite with co-driver Warren Luff for the first time since 2019. While Pye acknowledged Sandown as the traditional curtain raiser for the Bathurst 1000, he is looking forward to returning to one of his favourite tracks for a crucial round of the championship, with 300 points on the line from the single race.
This Sandown 500 sees the first round in the team’s history without the presence of their esteemed owner, Charlie Schwerkolt. Charlie will be in Singapore for work commitments and will also be attending the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix. Despite his absence, Charlie has expressed full confidence in the entire team, lead by Team Manager Bruin Beasley, and their ability to excel at Sandown.
The Sandown 500 will return with its traditional format, featuring a single 161-lap, 500km two-driver endurance race on the Dunlop Super Soft tyre. Endurance races add an extra layer of strategy, with engineers calculating driver time and fuel strategy. Co-drivers will be required to complete a minimum of 54 laps, with longer fuel time with the new cars and the possibility of brake pad and calliper changes.
The race weekend commences on Friday with three 30-minute practice sessions, including a dedicated session for co-drivers. Saturday brings a fourth practice session and a single 20-minute qualifying session for the full field, culminating with the Top 10 Shootout, setting the stage for Race 23 of the season.
A Sunday morning warm-up session will precede the start of the Sandown 500, which is scheduled to take off at 2:15pm AEST. Fans can catch all of the action live on Fox Sports and Kayo. Check your local guides for further details.
Scott Pye, driver #20 Toyota Forklifts Team 18 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
“I’m excited to get back to Sandown, and this year with it being an endurance event again, is something I look forward to.
“I’ve always enjoyed the longer races and bringing in strategy in these longer races always play a huge part.
“Excited to have Luffy back in the car. It’s a curtain raiser for Bathurst as well, even though it’s for equal points, every driver knows how important Bathurst is, but Sandown is one of my favourite tracks and I’m looking forward to getting back there.
“Hopefully the car’s fast and we are at the pointy end and we can have a clean race.”
Mark Winterbottom, driver #18 DEWALT Racing Team 18 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
“I’m really looking forward to having the Sandown 500 back as it’s a race I’ve missed off the calendar and it has always been one of my favourite races. It’s got a lot of history, we often look at it as the curtain raiser to Bathurst, but on its own its significant and winning the 500 is huge.
“Sandown has been really strong for me previously. It’s great to have Michael [Caruso] in and I think we’re a good chance of getting a good result.
“I’m looking forward to having a crack with Michael and in these cars as well. We’ve prepped them well, the team do a great job prepping the cars. Driver changes are going to be interesting because they’re not as easy to get in and out of and there could be little mistakes that happen.
“This is my favourite time of the year. I love endurance races, teaming up with someone you know and going into battle is really cool. It’s going to be a tough race, 500 kilometres on the super softs is going to be pretty gruelling, but I’m confident we’ll have the car to make it and hopefully it’s fast enough.”
Charlie Schwerkolt, Team 18 Owner / Team Principal
“It’s actually pretty surreal to say I won’t be attending a Supercars round this weekend as I haven’t missed an event in over 20 years”.
“It’s exciting to be in Singapore for the F1 Grand Prix this weekend. I’ve been there for business a couple of times this year, but this weekend will be special as I get to experience the grand prix with my son which has really become a marquee event on the global motorsport calendar”.
“Rest assured, the team is in incredibly capable hands with Team Manager Bruin Beasley and Crew Chief Dennis Huijser leading the charge. I’ll be glued to the screen watching every second of the action from Singapore and will be in close contact with the team across the weekend.”