Winterbottom weighs in on Great Race record pace

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 02/12/2021
  • By James Pavey

Mark Winterbottom isn’t forecasting the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000 to be run at or close to record pace.

Winterbottom won the 2013 race in what proved to be a new race record, a marker which was lowered in 2018.

The 2020 race displaced 2013 in second; nine of the last 11 Great Races have been won in a time of less than six-and-a-half hours.

The exceptions are the predominantly wet 2017 race and the 2014 race which was suspended for an hour due to track repairs.

The 2020 race was run in 6:10:56.114s. The 2018 race, won by Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards, was run in 6:01:44.863s.

The pace has been hot already this weekend, with Cameron Waters matching his own corresponding Practice 1 time from 2020.

The 2021 race will also feature its latest ever start, with the 161-lap affair to start at 12:15pm AEDT.

That will mean at least two fewer hours will be held in the heat of the day.

With Sunday’s race the first enduro in 14 months, Winterbottom acknowledged the race record will look after itself due to the weather and Safety Car interventions.

“The race record is sort of irrelevant in my opinion,” Winterbottom said.

“If there are five Safety Cars, one Safety Car, 10 Safety Cars, that plays out the time of the race.

“I’d be happy to win this thing in 10 hours, 12 hours, it doesn’t really matter what time it is.

“I think the race will go six-and-a-half hours, seven hours.

“The fastest time doesn’t mean you’re gonna win it, you’ve just got to be the front guy and be the fastest on the day.”

In recent years, the race has almost been conducted like a six-hour sprint.

In eight of the last 11 Great Races, the car that led the most laps on the day failed to win the race.

In the 11 races before that, it flips to seven instances where the car that led the most laps win the race.

However, the pace of the race - coupled with Bathurst being the sole enduro - means there may be more room for fatigue.

Seven of the last 12 Great Races have featured a Safety Car period in the final 10 laps of the race.

As the pace has increased, so has the competition; dating back to 2006, 11 of the last 15 races have been decided by 1.4 seconds or less.

For Winterbottom, who was fifth in Practice 1, being able to balance one-lap pace and race pace will be a challenge for teams in the longest race of the season.

“If you have a quick car for one lap, making it quick for 161 is easier than having a slow car and making it quick,” he said.

“We’ll try and have a fast car for one lap, but the challenge is to make it last.

“Heavy focus on session four… lots of new tyres to throw at it.

“If it’s dry for Practice 4, that’s when the clock will really be challenged.”

Supercars will return to the track on Thursday for Additional Drivers only Practice 2 at 4:25pm AEDT. Click here to view the track schedule.

Every session of the event will be broadcast live on Foxtel (Fox Sports 503) and streamed on Kayo.

The Seven Network will provide live free to air coverage of the event. Tickets for the event are on sale now.

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