The Bathurst sprint race advantage for young drivers

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 24/02/2021
  • By James Pavey, Pics by Anton De Pasquale Facebook

This weekend's Repco Mt Panorama 500 will feature a familiar format for nearly half the field.

Of the 24 drivers who will hit the track this weekend for the 2021 season-opener, 11 drivers have previously competed in a 250km race at Mount Panorama.

Between 2014 and 2019, Bathurst hosted a single 250km-long race for the Dunlop Series.

One of the 11 who impressed in the format was Anton De Pasquale, who completed a brilliant rookie performance in 2016.

Aboard a Paul Morris Motorsport-prepared Ford Falcon, De Pasquale raced from 12th on the grid to finish on the podium.

Five years on, the 25-year-old will tackle the mountain in a plumb drive aboard a Shell V-Power Racing Ford Mustang.

Ahead of his maiden Dick Johnson Racing campaign, De Pasquale was buoyed by previous experience in 250km-long races on the mountain.

"Very different format, usually you go there with a co-driver and you think about Sunday," he said.

"This time we've got two 250s, so you've got a chance to back it up the day after to rectify what happened the day before.

"I've done a 250 there once before back in Super2, in my first year ever driving a Supercar.

"I sort of know what to expect and how the race pans out.

"I'm looking forward to it, it'll be really cool."

In 2016, a 21-year-old De Pasquale drove to third behind Paul Dumbrell and eventual series champion Garry Jacobson.

De Pasquale managed to stretch his fuel to the chequered flag to take third, marking his best Dunlop Series result.

Bathurst, while synonymous with October's 1000km-long Great Race, will this weekend stage its first sprint round since 1996.

That year, De Pasquale was just one year old; however, with experience in the typically-chaotic 250km races, the younger generation could hold the upper hand.

Other current main game drivers to have competed in 250km races include Cameron Waters, Zane Goddard, Bryce Fullwood, Jack Le Brocq, Jack Smith, Garry Jacobson, Will Brown, Brodie Kostecki, Todd Hazelwood and Macauley Jones, who won the 2017 race.

De Pasquale, who completed three Bathurst 1000 starts for Erebus Motorsport between 2018 and 2020, expects a weekend of high intensity.

"You haven't got someone to handball the load off to over the week," he added.

"It's 40-odd laps around Bathurst, flat out, which is what we love to do.

"It's our coolest, most iconic track, so for us to go there and hand down laps all day long is what we want to do."

Cars will hit the track on Friday for opening practice of the Repco Mt Panorama 500. Tickets are on sale now.

This weekend’s event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and the Seven Network, and will be streamed on Kayo. Check out the full TV schedule here.

Related Content
Stay In The Know
Sign up to the Repco Supercars Championship Newsletter