Who’s the favourite to win?
Newly-crowned champion Shane van Gisbergen has to be the red-hot favourite. Not only did he romp to the title in career-best form, but he’s teaming up with four-time winner Garth Tander in his Triple Eight Racing Holden Commodore.
The pair won last year, and finished second in 2019, so they have proven to be a formidable team around Mt Panorama.
Who else has a serious chance to win?
While van Gisbergen/Tander are the obvious choice, the unpredictable nature of the Bathurst 1000 race means there are several other combinations that could triumph.
Starting with the combination of Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes, in the second Triple Eight Holden. Whincup is a seven-time series champion and has four Bathurst wins to his credit, while Lowndes has seven wins and could feasibly match or better the record of his mentor, Peter Brock; the nine-time winner.
Ford’s hopes will likely be led by Dick Johnson Racing’s Anton De Pasquale, who was van Gisbergen’s closest rival at the most recent rounds at Sydney Motorsport Park. He’ll be partnered by the experience Tony D’Alberto, so the #11 Ford Mustang is one to watch.
As is the #17 Mustang of their teammates, the brothers Will and Alex Davison. Will has been consistent in his return to DJR, but is yet to score a win. Given their experience at Bathurst this could be the weekend the Davison name returns to Victory Lane.
Another Mustang that could win is the Tickford Racing entry led by Cameron Waters. He has been one of the sport’s fastest drivers in recent years and is due a major success. He’ll be partnered by James Moffat, who now possesses plenty of his own Bathurst experience to go along with any knowledge he acquired from his four-time winning father.
You can also not rule out 2014 race winner, Chaz Mostert. He will share his Walkinshaw Andretti United Holden with the level-headed Lee Holdsworth, so they should be genuine contenders.
What about some dark horse contenders?
It seems odd to call recent winners a dark horse but it has been an unusual build-up to the race for David Reynold and Luke Youlden. After winning in 2017 in an Erebus Racing Holden, the pair are now driving a Mustang for Kelly Grove Racing.
Reynolds was forced to miss two of the four races at Eastern Creek because of a problem with his vaccination status. So the bad news is, he’s lost valuable seat time, but the good news is Youlden filled in for those races so he has more practice than most co-drivers.
Put 2013 winner Mark Winterbottom on your list of roughies. He shares his Team 18 Holden with Michael Caruso and the pair have the experience to win if the car speed is there.
At the other end of the spectrum, rising star Will Brown has plenty of speed but is still relatively inexperienced. He will share his Erebus Commodore with Jack Perkins and if they end up near the pointy end in the final stage of the race, Brown has shown he has the speed and confidence to go wheel-to-wheel with anyone in the category.
Finally, it will be worth keeping an eye on the Triple Eight-run ‘wildcard’ entry of Broc Feeney and Russell Ingall. Feeney has plenty of speed - enough to earn him Whincup’s seat for 2022 - while Ingall may not be as fast as he once was, but he’s one of the most cunning drivers to ever take on Mt Panorama.
When does the race start?
The race is starting later than ever before, with the green flag scheduled to drop at 12:15pm on Sunday. But with the five fastest race times all coming since 2010 and with a smaller, more competitive field the race could be over in less than six hours.
Is this the last Bathurst 1000 for Holden?
No. While there were several plans to introduce the so-called ‘Gen3’ cars for the 2022 season - which will see the Chevrolet Camaro replace the Holden Commodore - these have been abandoned in favour of starting fresh in 2023.
That means we’ll still see the ZB Commodore on the Bathurst grid in 2022, so three years after Holden officially shut up shop in Australia.