Team 18 is ready for its first Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 as a two-car squad, with the IRWIN Racing and DEWALT Racing drivers and crew ready to conclude the 2020 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship in style.
2013 Bathurst 1000 winner Mark Winterbottom will line up for his 17th Bathurst 1000 with 24-year old James Golding in the IRWIN Racing Commodore. Golding teams up with Winterbottom following a four-year stint with Garry Rogers Motorsport alongside a host of racers fresh from a full-time Supercars seat.
Meanwhile two-time Bathurst runner-up Scott Pye will be joined by Dean Fiore in the DEWALT Racing Commodore. The West Aussie lines up for his 12th Bathurst 1000 as he moves to Team 18 following a six-year stint as an endurance co-driver with Nissan Motorsport.
Fiore and Golding represent two strong co-driver recruitments in the off-season for the Charlie Schwerkolt-owned squad.
Golding’s recent Bathurst performances have been impressive, finishing eighth and 11th in the last two years as the lead driver with Richard Muscat, while Fiore has proven himself as a consistently-strong performer with a best result of sixth in 2017 with Michael Caruso.
The Mount Waverley, Victoria based squad heads to Bathurst following a two-week stay at Ross Stone Racing on the Gold Coast, with the team aiming to keep both drivers in the top ten of the championship and boost their position from eighth in a close teams championship battle.
Winterbottom has had a solid-season in the IRWIN Racing Commodore with three top fives and sits ninth in the championship. The 2015 Supercars champion finished sixth last year in The Great Race for Team 18 alongside his 2013 Bathurst-winning co-driver Steve Richards.
Pye heads into the championship finale tenth in the drivers standings with three podiums and five top-five finishes.
A significant change to the 2020 edition of The Great Race will see cars that are one lap down or more be allowed to gain one lap back during a safety car period. Lapped cars will be permitted to pass the safety car when advised on the final lap of the safety car period before racing resumes. Among other rules confirmed is a compulsory front brake rotor change between laps 55 and 120.
The 2020 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 commences with cars hitting the track for Practice 1 on Thursday at 9:30am AEDT. Qualifying will take place on Friday followed by the Top Ten Shootout on Saturday afternoon, before the 58th running of The Great Race kicks off from 11:30am AEDT on Sunday.
All four days of action can be viewed live on Fox Sports 506 and Kayo Sports, while free-to-air broadcaster Network 10 will commence their live coverage from Friday.
Scott Pye, driver #20 DEWALT Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“The Bathurst 1000 is the most iconic race in the country, it’s the one every driver wants to race and it’s the one race that everyone stops to watch,” said Pye.
“I’ve had some good success there in the past with a couple of podiums, but I definitely don’t want to come second again, I’d love to go one step higher and go for the win.
“It would mean everything to cap off the season, especially this year with the way the championship finishes with it being our finale.
“To win this year’s race would be even more special than in a regular season because it’s the finale.
“We would go home to a three/four-month break winning the biggest race of the year and the last race we’ve been to.
“Our preparation is going to be different. There’s the parade through the centre of town every year and the drivers parade lap of the track before the race, so not having those key moments that build the emotion and the anxiety before the race is going to bring a different feel.
“Unfortunately it’s the way things are this year that the majority of fans can’t be there but there will be 4000 lucky fans and a massive TV audience watching from home which is great, hopefully we can put on a great show at Bathurst.”
Dean Fiore, co-driver #20 DEWALT Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“Super excited would be the best way to describe it,” said Fiore.
“I’ve been watching the team from the couch this year and they’ve been doing a fantastic job and I can’t wait to turn a wheel on Thursday.
“Usually you have the entree before the main in Sandown traditionally going into Bathurst, so without that there’s going to be challenges, but I know exactly what I need to do and you don’t need to go out there top the timesheets straight away or at all, for me it’s just important to remember what my role is and execute on that.
“All the ingredients are there for something special to happen, but I generally try not to focus on the outcomes, I just want to focus on the process so that’s my goal and aim for this year’s race.”