The defending Bathurst 1000 champions will enter this year’s ‘Great Race’ on October 9 as rivals after wrapping up race preparations in Winton yesterday.
Whilst Chaz Mostert will attempt to go back-to-back in the #25 WAU Commodore – the last chance for a Supercars Holden to do so – Lee Holdsworth will be making the attempt in a Penrite Racing Ford Mustang.
Mostert will defend his crown with Fabian Coulthard, who in an interview yesterday, served up a bit of tongue in cheek for his teammate turned rival.
“You always feel a bit nervous going back there, but it’s exciting to be driving up there and seeing the Mt Panorama sign and realising there’s a new story to be written this year,” says Mostert.
“It’s the second time I’ve had the opportunity to go back-to-back, but that didn’t end that well for me last time…but obviously the car was fantastic for us last year, and you do return with that bit of confidence knowing you should have the same car this year as you did the last time, but conditions change so we’ll see how we go.
“Lee was fresh for us last year, so it’s really no different on this test day than how it was last year. We’ve just got Fabs (Coulthard) up to speed, which he is doing a great job at… and probably even better than Lee!
“It’ll be awesome getting the plaque for the win, and that’s something I can share with Lee, but then he can toddle off back to his own team, and hopefully we can go out there and beat him.”
From Holdsworth’s point of view – who’s defending his crown with Matthew Payne – it’s all fair in love and war at The Mountain when the lids come on, dishing out his own return of serve at his ex-teammate.
“Every year you go back it’s exciting, but after what happened last time it’s even more special going back…and we get to have our name on the plaque down the main street, but obviously we wanna defend our titles,” Holdsworth said.
“Of course this year there’s another bloke trying to defend the same title. Chaz and I have a good relationship and we’re great mates, and we had a lot of fun last year.
“But when our helmets go on for the race, we won’t be best mates anymore, we’ll be playing for keeps.
“With the Penrite car we’ve good a pretty quick race car, but qualifying has been an issue for us this year, which we’ve tried to sort out at the test day with some tweaks here and there, and Matty Payne’s had plenty of laps so he’ll be up to speed by the time we get there.”
The last drivers to successfully defend the Bathurst crown were the three-peat winners of Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes in 2006-2008.
This will be the final year of Holden vs Ford at Mt Panorama, with last year’s win taking Holdens lion’s share of Bathurst victories to 35, over the Blue Ovals 20.
Competitors are due to arrive at the spiritual home of Australian motorsport on October 5 for the annual Drivers’ Parade, before practice begins on Thursday October 6 before Friday’s Qualifying. The Top Ten shootout commences on Saturday the 8th, before the Sunday plays host to 161 gruelling laps for Australia’s greatest race.