V8SCOPS Bathurst 1000 Preview

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It’s that time of the year folks – time for the biggest single event on the Australian virtual racing calendar, the V8 Supercars Online Premier Series (V8SCOPS) Bathurst 1000.

A recent iRacing software update has seen the original format for the event (pre-qualifying on Thursday and Friday, qualifying and the Top 10 Shootout on Saturday and the race on Sunday) tweaked, with a single, 60 minute qualifying session on Sunday morning now determining the grid for the Great Race.

But of all the races on the V8SCOPS calendar, this is arguably the one where qualifying is the least-important, with consistent race pace and sharp tactics likely to be the determining factors in deciding who will lift the Peter Brock Trophy come Sunday afternoon.

Once again, our panel of experts are back with their predictions for the main contenders and combinations to watch on Sunday arvo.

 

Lachlan Mansell – Sim Racing Oz editor

1: Madison Down/Dayne Warren – Trans Tasman Racing

The raw speed demonstrated by this machine in the lead-up endurance races at Phillip Island and Imola is simply too hard to overlook; Down and Warren come into this year’s race as red-hot favourites with a driver lineup that is oozing with pure talent. Neither driver has won the Bathurst 1000 yet, a statistic both will be determined to change.

2: Fawzan El-Nabi/Harley Haber – United Sim Sports

A runner-up finish at the Imola 500 signals this entry as a genuine contender at Bathurst. Both drivers have form on the board at the Mountain as well; El-Nabi is a former Bathurst 1000 winner while Haber was victorious in a Supercars eSeries race earlier this year.

3: Richard Hamstead/Jake Moloney – Trans Tasman Racing

The reigning Endurance Cup champions figured on the podium in both 500km lead-up enduros – including a win at Phillip Island – and will no doubt figure among the front-running combinations at the Mountain. In terms of strategic thinking and race management, there’s no better team in the virtual pit lane but I’m not quite sure they have the raw pace of the Down/Warren or El-Nabi/Haber combinations for the final sprint to the chequered flag.

Look for: Chris Coxhead/Liam Wild – Zuver Racing

The Bathurst 1000 often throws up surprise results, due to the number of “Bathurst specialists” who don’t necessarily figure at the top of the order in other V8SCOPS events, but rise to the fore at the Mountain. Credit where it’s due – Coxhead is a regular V8SCOPS participant – but the Mountain will be a circuit that will bring out the best in his and Wild’s driving, like it did in 2016 when they finished on the outright podium.

 

Ryan Jones – Sim Racing Oz reporter

1: Richard Hamstead/Jake Moloney – Trans Tasman Racing

2: James Scott/Cooper Webster – Altus eSports

3: Ethan Grigg-Gault/Jordan Caruso – Evolution Racing Team

Look for: Beau Albert/Simone Maria Marceno – Altus eSports

Richard Hamstead and Jake Moloney are positioned very well in their quest to record consecutive Enduro Cup titles, a win at Phillip Island and 3rd place at Imola has them in the box seat.

James Scott and Cooper Webster are doing exactly what they need to right now, recording solid finishes to maintain the advantage Scott has in the championship. In fact, it was only a late spin at Imola which denied them a podium to follow on from third at Phillip Island.

Jordan Caruso and Ethan Grigg-Gault recorded a second place at the Island before finishing fourth at Imola. They’re well in the picture for the overall Enduro Cup title, given the chaos of Bathurst… who knows how they might come away from the Mountain.

Beau Albert and Simone Maria Marceno are an interesting combo; neither would label the Supercar as their strongest car on the service. However raw talent might prove enough to overcome that deficit in what is sure to be a crazy race. Marceno does already have a top 10 to his name thanks to a ninth place at Phillip Island with Sam Blacklock. As for Albert, he’s on a confidence high after earning qualification to the iRacing Rallycross World Championship, he’ll be hoping to utilise that confidence to safely navigate Griffin’s Bend…

 

Rhys Gardiner – V8SCOPS series commentator

1: Madison Down/Dayne Warren – Trans Tasman Racing

What more can you say about this pairing after Imola? This is the fastest overall lineup in the field, and when there isn’t a late race caution to mix things up, you can count on Down and Warren to bring the goods. They’ve had varying levels of luck at Bathurst individually, particularly in Dayne’s case, but driving together they may just steal the spoils of victory.

2: Ethan Grigg-Gault/Jordan Caruso – Evolution Racing Team

Endurance specialists, ERT have always been in the mix at the Mountain. Caruso was thrown right in the thick of it for enduro season, but has dealt with the pressure and shown great maturity and racing nous. The Eggman, meanwhile, is never to be counted out on a normal day – even more so on abnormal days like a Bathurst 1000!

3: James Scott/Cooper Webster – Altus eSports

James Scott faces an uphill battle to hold on to his championship aspirations, and a podium at Bathurst is a great way to keep himself in the fight. A downsized and consolidated Altus lineup seems to be translating into better potential for results, so Scott – and the young gun Cooper Webster – have a second wind at enduro time. Look out for Webster in particular to set the timing screens alight when he gets in the car.

Look for: Adam Briggs/Andrew Dyson – DPR Racing

The DPR team’s endurance campaign has been patchy so far, with poor luck, incidents and blown engines to contend with. But Briggs and Dyson are not to be underestimated. Prequalifying pace looks good, and if they can stay out of trouble, I expect them to be in the top 10 after the last pit stops. Worley and Lobb in the sister #233 car are also looking pacey, so keep an eye out for them too.

 

Mike Koroleff – V8SCOPS admin

1: Madison Down/Dayne Warren – Trans Tasman Racing

The speed of Dayne will be hard to hold back, and a shrewd strategy on when to pit to satisfy driver requirements mixed with where you will pop out in traffic will keep them on their toes. Ultimately Bathurst will decide the winner but this pairing should have the shrewd ability to know when to push and when to conserve… if luck is kind, the top step on the podium is there to be had.

2: Richard Hamstead/Jake Moloney – Trans Tasman Racing

Hampstead and Moloney have done this before, and fortune favours the brave. A tactical early stop at PI forced its sister car to start looking backwards… which eventually ended in tears and set them up, along with a masterful display of fuel saving for a win that left many shaking their heads about how they made it home… Failing cruel fate, this car should be one of a few booking a ticket to the last hour.

3: Ethan Grigg-Gault/Jordan Caruso – Evolution Racing Team

They only need a little luck to fall their way and the #117 will sit in victory lane. Both drivers a quick, and quietly understated when it comes to competitiveness. On paper, this combo has a good balance of speed and decision making that will be needed to get to the finish. Keep an eye on this car in the last hour.

Look for: Adam Briggs/Andrew Dyson – DPR Racing

There are cars faster in the field, but also more prone to tripping over their own appendages in pressure situations. At a track where cool heads finish races, these two can do it if the mountain decides to smile in their direction. PI should have seen them in with a top five but for a Safety Car issue. They certainly have proven that they have good strategy and calm reactions to adverse situations. Look for them to pop up if fate claims the top three.

 

V8SCOPS Bathurst 1000 Honour Roll

2014 – Richard Hamstead/Jon Latham

2015 – Jake Moloney/Sam Sutton

2016 – Jarrad Filsell/Kain Kugimiya

2017 – Richard Hamstead/Josh Rogers

2018 – Fawzan El-Nabi/Ross Rizzo

2019 – Jarrad Filsell/Jordan Ross

 

Qualifying preview video

Enjoy this amazing insight into what it takes to nail a perfect lap around the Holy Grail of Australian motorsport in a Supercar! Video thanks to Beau Albert.

Where to watch

The V8SCOPS Bathurst 1000 will be live-streamed on the SimSpeed TV network on Saturday, 13 September via the embedded video below.

11:30am – Broadcast intro and race preview

12:00 midday – Qualifying (60 minutes)

1:00pm – 2020 V8SCOPS Bathurst 1000 (161 laps)

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