After a huge weekend of sport with the AFL and NRL grand finals, we now head to V8 Supercars unofficial ‘grand final’ event- the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
It’s not the final race of the season, nor does it determine who wins the championship- but it’s the biggest race in Australian motorsport and an event that’s become world-famous. It’s our holy grail.
This year is the 50th year of the Bathurst endurance race and I head back to Mount Panorama as the reigning Bathurst 1000 champion with Garth Tander.
Last year’s race and our win was such a whirlwind that once I head back there as the defending champion, I think last year’s win will actually sink in!
It’s a busy lead up to the event, with plenty of sponsor visits and media activities before we hit the track for the first time on Thursday.
I’m one of seven Dunlop Series drivers who’ll be doing double-duty this weekend – racing the #222 Coates Hire Commodore in the 5th round of the Dunlop Series and also defending our Bathurst crown in the #2 HRT Commodore.
The Coates Hire car will roll out of the truck with virtually the same setup as the #2 HRT Commodore. We’ve softened the car to suit the green track conditions early in the weekend, and hopefully all we’ll need to do is tweak the setup as more rubber builds up on the racing surface as the weekend progresses.
I’ll have a new engineer working on the #222 Coates Hire Commodore from this weekend onwards. My former engineer Matt Crawford has moved onto James Courtney’s #22 HRT Commodore, so Scott Sinclair will now lead the Coates Hire Racing team.
While Matt and I worked really well together, I’m happy to have Scott on board with me. Only two years ago he won a V8 Supercar championship with James, and he brings a wealth of recent main game experience.
I’m currently sitting fourth in the Dunlop Series and 236 points off the championship lead, so I need to have a good weekend to get back in the championship fight and put pressure on the leading guys.
In the main series, Garth and I finished fourth at the recent Dick Smith Sandown 500 – the traditional lead-in race to the big one at Bathurst.
Garth had good pace in the #2 HRT Commodore, which put us off the front row for the 500km race. We were probably lacking only a tenth of a second per lap, but over 500 kilometres we just couldn’t quite stay with the top three. Overall I’m pretty happy with how our result at Sandown … we were fourth last year at the 500 and then won Bathurst, so I’m hoping history can repeat itself this year!
I still pinch myself heading to Bathurst. Just to be racing a V8 Supercar there, let alone with the Holden Racing Team, is such a privilege. The cheers you hear from the fans at the top of the mountain when you head across for the first time in the HRT car is unreal … it literally gives me goose bumps.
To mark the 50th year of the Bathurst endurance race I’ve added a special Bathurst track map to my helmet. There’s one for each of HRTs wins – including Garth’s and mine. There are seven in total and hopefully we can make it eight on Sunday.
If we win, I think I’ll just draw another one on with a texta because it would be a dream come true to claim back-to-back wins in the biggest race of the year.
Don’t forget, you can follow my progress across the event through twitter: twitter.com/NickPercat and my facebook page : facebook.com/nickpercatpage