Brian Boyd Previews the 2018 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000
- PAYCE Head Office, Sydney NSW.
PAYCE Managing Director said neither Garth Tander nor James Golding in the Wilson Security Racing GRM team is in contention for the Drivers Championship title, but they can't be dismissed for a good result this weekend at Bathurst if they have a trouble-free race.
"Their results over the season don't really paint the full picture and there have been occasions where they have held their own against the current top runners. And Garth is a past pole-sitter and winner at the mountain, so he knows what it takes to stand on the podium," Brian said.
"While most of the attention this weekend will be on Supercars, there are some exciting scenarios in other competing categories as their championships draw to a close with just one more round for them after Bathurst."
Brian Boyd said this Bathurst meeting could well be the decider for a number of championships involving PAYCE and Paynter Dixon supported drivers and teams, with Chris Pither from Wilson Security Racing GRM currently sitting second in the Super2 Championship, John Bowe also second in the Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters and David Wall third in the Porsche Wilson Security Carrera Cup.
"For all three categories, Bathurst is the penultimate round," he said.
"Weatherwise, it is looking good for the whole four days of track activity, with cool mornings and a maximum of around 20 degrees early afternoon. Unlike last year, it looks like it will be a rain-free event - at least according to the forecasters.
"Fans can look forward to a number of tributes and the demonstration run of the Ford Performance GT driven by Ryan Briscoe and winner of the recent Daytona 24 Hours," Brian said.
Virgin Australia Supercars - Garth was well Inside the Top 10 in Practices Last Year – Brian Boyd
Brian said it will be the regular field of 26 cars that face the starter as no Super2 team has taken up the offer of a wildcard entry.
"The two drivers leading on points, Shane van Gisbergen and Scott McLaughlin, have to come in as early favourites, along with late charging Jamie Whincup," Boyd continued.
"However, Bathurst always throws up surprises, so the six drivers that stand on the podium on Sunday afternoon could well come from any one of half a dozen teams. Hopefully, at least one of the teams will be Wilson Security Racing GRM.
"At last year's event, Garth was well inside the top 10 in practices and made it into the Top Ten Shootout, then advancing one place to sit 9th on the grid with co-driver James Golding.
"The second GRM car of James Moffat/Richard Muscat just missed a top ten qualifying when James hit the wall in the closing minutes of the qualifying session holding down 9th fastest time.
"In the race itself, which was run under wet conditions for much of the day, GRM's fortunes see-sawed, with the #33 car of Garth and James Golding up to second place at one stage.
"However, several on-track incidents and off-track excursions by both the #33 and #34 cars took their toll and despite great work by the engineers and pit crews, the end result saw them finishing well down the order."
Pre-Race Activities Start on Wednesday – Brian Boyd
Brian said that this year, the pairings of Tander/Pither and Golding/Muscat come to the Mountain on equal terms with other ZB Commodore teams and a good top ten result by Tander/Pither in the #33 Commodore at the recent Sandown 500.
"In the #34 Commodore, James Golding continues to add experience and confidence in his first full year in Supercars and Richard Muscat has been honing his racing skills overseas with his most recent success a second place podium in Shanghai a week ago," he said.
"Young rising star and member of Team PAYCE, Macauley Jones will have a busy weekend co-driving with Nick Percat in the main race, as well as chasing the championship title in Super2.
"The off-track activities start on Wednesday with the traditional transporter parade up William Street in the CBD followed by the meet-the-drivers autograph session in the city," Brian continued.
"Thursday is down to the business side of racing, with practices for co-drivers and all drivers in separate sessions. Friday sees two more practice sessions, one each for co-drivers and all drivers, then the all-important qualifying session to determine the Top Ten Shootout places and to lock in grid spots for positions 11 to 26.
"Saturday morning has all cars back out on the track for a final one-hour practice session, before the excitement builds for the Top Ten Shootout at the end of the day and bragging rights as the pole-sitter for the 2018 Bathurst 1000.
"Sunday is race day and starts with an early morning 20 minute warm up session where all drivers need to exercise caution to keep their cars intact as within three hours they will line up on the grid for the Great Race."
Dunlop Super2 - Macauley Jones will Defend his 2017 Win in the #14 Commodore – Brian Boyd
Brian said that this year, unlike last year, the Bathurst round counts for championship points, so a full field will face the starter for what is billed as a mini-enduro over 41 laps or 250 kilometres.
"Last year, Team PAYCE member Macauley Jones was the race winner and his victory was well celebrated in the Brad Jones Racing camp.
"This year, Macauley will defend his win in the #14 Commodore and hopes to add some championship points, although he is currently sitting in 7th place, after two DNFs in Townsville due to suspension failures. He will also co-drive with Nick Percat in the Bathurst 1000."
Brian Boyd said Chris Pither from Wilson Security Racing GRM has driven consistently all year long for two outright wins in his six podiums and is second on the leaderboard.
"He has held this position for the last four rounds and a good result at Bathurst could well see him on top of the ladder with just Newcastle to go. He also does double duties as co-driver to Garth in the main race.
"GRM's other Super2 member, Mason Barbera, may be out of the running for the title this year, but his two 11th placings at Sandown were impressive and he is another up and coming driver improving with each start," Brian enthused.
The Super2 drivers have one 40 minute practice on Thursday, another 40 minute practice on Friday morning before their qualifying session of 40 minutes in the afternoon.
They return to the track on Saturday for a 15 minute warm up ahead of their 41 lap mini-enduro in the afternoon that brings to an end their racing program for the weekend.
Porsche Wilson Security Carrera Cup Australia - PAYCE-Supported Drivers have had a Good Season to Date – Brian Boyd
Brian said the good news last week was that a further six 911 GT3 Cup Porsches have landed in Australia to boost the 26 cars that have been imported to contest the series.
"At least one new car will be prepared by Wall Racing for Dale Stevens to run in Pro-Am, making it a 24 car field this round," he said.
"PAYCE-supported drivers, David Wall #1, James Moffat #18 and Dale Wood #100 have had a good season to date with David third on the leaderboard, Dale fourth and James fifth.
"David is the defending champion and would dearly love to add Bathurst wins to keep him in the running for back-to-back championships Last year he was on the podium after all three races with a win, a second and a third finish", Brian Boyd commented.
"However, the competition this year is incredibly strong and there have been numerous winners through the season. David has one win to his credit and consistent top five finishes that have kept him near the lead.
"Dale has had five wins, but two DNFs dropped him down the order and James has had the one win at Darwin, but six podiums have kept him in the running. Both James and Dale will also be kept busy competing in the Bathurst 1000 as co-drivers."
Brian Boyd said Bathurst is also the second of three rounds that count towards the Porsche Endurance Cup and after Sandown Dale Wood leads on points, with David fourth and James sixth.
"The Gold Coast round will be the final endurance round and final round of the 2018 season."
The Bathurst program consists of a one-hour practice session on Thursday followed by a 20 minute qualifying session late in the day. Friday is straight into a 16 lap race before returning for a 9 lap race on Saturday and another 9 lapper on Sunday. Grid positions for the two shorter races will be determined by the finishing order in the previous race.
Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters - Legends of Australian Motorsport Ready to Race – Brian Boyd
Brian said the most popular category at this meeting besides Supercars is arguably the Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters, offering some of the most exciting touring car racing in the sport, as the cars are wrestled through the corners.
"Fans will get to see some of the legends of Australian motorsport, such as John Bowe and Jim Richards, competing in a field of immaculately prepared cars that are representative of the touring cars that graced the mountain race decades ago," he said.
"Team PAYCE driver and 2016 champion, John Bowe has the most wins at Bathurst in TCM, but his arch rival and friend, Steve Johnson is not far behind.
"Since JB switched from his Mustang to the #18 Holden Torana a couple of seasons ago and Steve secured the drive of JB's former Mustang, the friendly rivalry has been at a peak at every round."
Brian Boyd said that last year at Bathurst, Johnson smashed the qualifying record and led the first championship race from start to finish with John Bowe in hot pursuit to the point that JB set a new race lap record.
"The second race held on Sunday race resulted in another win for Johnson after JB lost ground as he battled with Johnson towards the end of Conrod Straight and slide wide, giving up second spot to Bressington.
"JB was able to regain second place and in chasing after Johnson he re-set the race lap record before finishing within half a second of his rival.
"John lost the lead in this year's championship to Johnson in the last round at Townsville, but with just Bathurst and Newcastle left in the season, it is shaping up to be a repeat of last year, when the outcome was not resolved until the final race at Newcastle when Johnson pipped JB by 11 points for the title."
Brian Boyd said the TCM field has continued to build in numbers and quality all through the year and Bathurst will see the best turn out of cars since the series began, with 30 cars lining up on the grid.
Track action starts on Thursday with practice and qualifying sessions, then the first championship race over six laps the last event on Friday's program. The field is first up on Saturday for the popular reverse grid trophy race over four laps and later in the day the second six lap championship race. The series' final race of the round over six laps is early Sunday morning.
Bill Smith 0412 446 058