The Supercars season will roar towards its conclusion this weekend at Mount Panorama as part of a six-day festival of motorsport, culminating with the 161-lap Bathurst 1000 on Sunday.
It’s the 61st time the Great Race has been run around the historic Bathurst course and has all the makings of a classic, with this year’s Supercars champion hoping to go back-to-back and an Aussie motorsport legend looking for one last tilt at glory.
Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s Bathurst 1000.
When is Bathurst 1000?
The six-day motorsport extravaganza kicked off on the Mountain on Tuesday, with a full range of support categories in action.
The Supercars don’t get on course until Thursday’s first and second practices, at 10am AEDT and 4:25pm AEDT (for co-drivers only).
There are two more practices on Friday before qualifying at 4:35pm AEDT.
Saturday features another couple of practice sessions before the always dramatic top 10 shootout at 5:05pm AEDT.
Then, on Sunday, this year’s Great Race will get underway at the latest time ever, 12:15pm AEDT.
How long is Bathurst 1000?
The race is exactly as advertised, 1,000 kilometres of flat-out racing around the iconic 6.213km course.
That’s 161 laps of intense racing, which often features plenty of crashes as well as desperately tense tactical battles as teams try to work out pit strategies and conserve their tyres on the hugely demanding, undulating circuit.
How long the actual race goes for depends on a whole host of factors, including the amount of wet weather and the number of safety car periods, but you can be pretty safe in thinking it will run for about six or seven hours.
Who is in contention?
Flying Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen has an unassailable 337-point lead in the Supercars championship, which should indicate just how good he has been this season.
Van Gisbergen also won last year’s race with Garth Tander, who he’ll partner with again this year in one of the strongest pairings on the grid.
Retiring Supercars legend Jamie Whincup will once again partner with Craig Lowndes, with the three-time winning pairing hoping for one last hurrah on Supercars’ biggest stage.
As for returning partnerships from last year, that’s it.
None of the other 23 teams raced together last year due to a variety of factors, including border closures.
2019 Bathurst winner and now IndyCar driver, Scott McLaughlin is one of those who will be absent this year.
Some of the combinations to look out for are the two all-brother pairings of Will and Alex Davison and Jake and Kurt Kostecki, as well as the oldest and youngest pairing in history: 19-year-old Broc Feeney and 57-year-old, two-time-winner, Russell Ingall.
Ford vs Holden?
Only once in the last six seasons has a Ford won the Great Race.
That was when Scott McLaughlin and Alex Prémat claimed the race in dramatic and controversial circumstances in 2019.
In fact, Holden has won seven of the last 10 races at the Bathurst 1000, a dominance that could yet continue this year.
However, Anton de Pasquale has been in excellent form in his Shell V-Power Ford Mustang since racing resumed at the Sydney Motorsport Park at the end of October.
Of the 11 races at the Eastern Creek venue, Pasquale won five.
He will partner with Tony D’Alberto.
In the other Shell V-Power Racing Team entry, Will Davison — who won the final race in Sydney two weeks ago and came second last year with Cameron Waters — will also be keen to show what he can do alongside his brother, Alex.
Is it going to rain?
The forecast currently says no.
Despite the entire east coast copping an absolute drenching over the last week or so, and rain falling intermittently throughout the week, the Bureau of Meteorology is suggesting there will be just 20 per cent chance of rain on Sunday.
That’s not to say there won’t be drama though.
Since 1987, there have been just two races that have not had to have the safety car deployed: 1989 and 1991.
The most number of times the safety car has been deployed in a single race is 13 in 2000.
How do I watch it?
You can follow all the action from Bathurst in our live blog from 11am AEDT.
If you want to watch the action, check out Fox Sports or Kayo.
You can also catch the race on free-to-air with Channel 7 or 7plus.