There’s nothing like the weekend before Bathurst… The calm before the storm as some would say.
And our team know it all too well. Here, we check in with the guys to see how they prepare for basically the biggest race of the season and find out if it’s any different to any other race.
Jamie “J-Dub” Whincup – Car #88 Driver
It really is the the calm before the storm so I just try to chill out, recharge and make sure the batteries are recharged for the biggest week of the year. I love my water sports, being on the Goldy, so as well as doing a bit of mountain biking in the bush near Nerang, I’ll wake board up the Coomera River. I’m pretty big on wellness and the outdoors and trying to keep fresh so I’ll try to stay off my phone, get outside and enjoy the GC weather. I don’t have any superstitions – superstitions are a weakness and I don’t think I’ll be doing anything differently in terms of prep – I think I got the right balance at last year’s event so I’ll keep it consistent. At the end of the day Bathurst is the biggest race of the year but it’s just another race as well. If you do extra for Bathurst then why don’t you do that for every other round – it’s the same points. Although it is a big week, without a doubt, so I still need to make sure I’m still fresh come race day. My first Bathurst was 2002 and I was just a massive fish out of water. I went in way under prepared for how gruelling the event is, and you wouldn’t believe it but about 25 laps in I ended up crashing and that was the day. Bathurst is a hard race to win and a very easy race to lose – I’ve been on both sides of the fence a few times.
Shane “SVG” Van Gisbergen – Car #97 Driver
This weekend I’ll just be mucking around, I’ve got a few mates coming around tomorrow and then just chilling on Sunday – a cruisy weekend in the Gold Coast weather. Today we’re working, we had Matty (Campbell) come in for our pre-brief with the engineers to run through everything, what worked well and what didn’t, so we’re good to go when we get there. If I look back at my first Bathurst, the best advice would be “don’t crash on Lap 6…” Because that’s exactly what I did.
Paul Dumbrell – Car #88 Co-Driver
I will have a quiet weekend in preparation for Bathurst – we’ll watch the AFL and NRL Grand Finals and try not to have too many pies! You can too easily get wrapped up in those footy events but Bathurst is our ‘Grand Final’. Jamie and I usually drive from Sydney to Bathurst together, so it’s a good few hours to have a chat, look at the week ahead and discuss what we need to do as drivers over the big weekend. This is my 19th year at Bathurst, with my first one in 1999, and my best advice is, “don’t try and overachieve”. Bathurst is all about experience, and if you don’t finish the race, you don’t get the experience. If I had the approach today as I did back then I would have been a lot smarter.
Matt “Matty” Campbell – Car #97 Co-Driver
I’ll spend the pre-Bathurst weekend chilling out with some friends and just relaxing before the big weekend next week. We get to the track nice and early in the week to prepare for the week ahead. Bathurst is always pretty special – as soon as you arrive, and you see the big sign on the mountain, you know you’re in for a big one. I’ll be treating it like any other race meeting. I’ve only done the main race once but I’ll just treat it like any other race and I guess, if I could take anything from my first race it would be to just enjoy it and don’t change.
David Cauchi – Car #88 Race Engineer
My pre-Bathurst weekend will definitely see me trying to catch up on sleep. With the Next-Gen Commodore project, we haven’t been getting much of that lately. I’ll get a bit of exercise in and chill out, staying out of trouble and trying to keep a low profile – enjoy the calm before the storm. I wish I could say I was up to something EPIC, but that would be misleading. To prep for Bathurst I watch race replays and relive the highs. I fast-forward over the lows! My first Bathurst was 2008 and I was definitely nervous going in. I still get very nervous on the grid, but quickly calm down once it all gets underway.
Grant “Shippy” McPherson – Car #97 Race Engineer
This weekend I will be spending time with my family because Sandown and the aero testing of the Next-Gen commodore have kept me away a lot lately. I normally try to avoid thinking about Bathurst because it’s a very long event and I need to go in feeling as fresh as possible. Then the drive to Bathurst is normally when I try to switch the focus back on. At the end of the drive, when you see the Mount Panorama sign again, it’s impossible to not find your focus. My first Bathurst was probably when I had the least nerves of all the Bathursts I’ve been involved in – this is probably because I didn’t know the level of pressure I was about to feel! These days I only start to feel some nerves when we’re on the grid, but each year they seem to get less and less with more experience.
Mark “Dutto” Dutton – Team Manager
My plans are not to have to work all weekend – if I can achieve that, then that’s a good sign. I don’t really have any rituals so maybe I should come up with something cool and use pre-Bathurst as an excuse to do it every year… I just believe we make our own luck so avoiding black cats, ladders and mirrors aren’t really my thing! Every event is a big event, and everyone in the team is great at not only knowing their roles, but always asking questions, wanting to do and give more so preparation doesn’t have to radically change. We also arrive at Bathurst on Tuesday so that gives us plenty of time to get into Bathurst mode. In my first Bathurst I was engineering the CAT car at the time and it had never finished a Bathurst so I wasn’t too nervous – in the end, we finished.