V8 Supercar legends Larry Perkins and Jim Richards have declared the field for next week's V8 Supercar 1000 at Bathurst's Mt Panorama as the most competitive ever. The pair, which has 12 wins between it at one of the world's toughest...
V8 Supercar legends Larry Perkins and Jim Richards have declared the field for next week's V8 Supercar 1000 at Bathurst's Mt Panorama as the most competitive ever.
The pair, which has 12 wins between it at one of the world's toughest race tracks, predicts more than a dozen cars are serious contenders for the October 7 race which also doubles as the 11th round of the Shell Championship Series.
"Since we started the V8 Supercar formula the depth of the field at Bathurst has always eclipsed the previous year's grid and this year is no exception," said Perkins.
"Without a shadow of a doubt, this year's field will be the most competitive we have seen.
"This race is no longer a 1000km jaunt, it's an absolute race. There are simply too many competitive teams out there to stroll around."
The leading contenders for this year's race will include Steve Johnson-Paul Radisich, Glenn Seton-Steve Richards, Mark Larkham-Wayne Gardner, Garth Tander-Jason Bargwanna, Craig Lowndes-Neil Crompton, Greg Murphy-Todd Kelly, Steve Ellery-Geoff Brabham, John Bowe-Simon Wills, David Besnard-Matthew White and Marcos Ambrose-Wayne Wakefield.
Then you have the Holden Racing Team which is set to confirm its final driver pairings of Mark Skaife, Jason Bright, Tony Longhurst and Tomas Mezera on Friday whatever the final driver combinations both HRT cars will be competitive.
Although he has had an average season to date, Perkins will also start as one of the favourites for this year's race in his Castrol-backed Holden with long-time teammate Russell Ingall.
Perkins, 51, is regarded as a Bathurst specialist and his experience is the envy of many.
"This is still a race where experience can give you a clear advantage," said Perkins. "The nature of the race and the circuit and things like changing weather conditions all play a major role in what is a long day. "Experience at Bathurst is a hell of an asset and many teams wish they had what we have. "Preparation for this race is a 12-month affair where you study your results from the previous year and all the years prior to that. You need to work out how you get the maximum out of everything while maintaining absolute reliability at the same time."
Perkins has a passion for the V8 Supercar 1000 and has produced many memorable victories at the circuit, none more so than 1995 when he and Ingall came from last at the end of the first lap to take the chequered flag.
Perkins has never been one for rash predictions and the growth in the field of capable opposition in this year's race hasn't changed much in the Castrol-Holden camp.
"Let's just say we will be up there with a bunch of guys that can do (win) it," said Perkins.
Richards heads to Bathurst as part of the Ford Tickford Racing outfit this year and will share his Falcon with 21 year-old Dean Canto.
The talented veteran admits that his chances to recording a seventh Bathurst victory this year are slim with team boss Glenn Seton electing to pair himself with regular teammate Steve Richards in the team's number 1 car.
Steve, who is Jim's 29 year-old son, has one of the most impressive Bathurst records of anyone in the field with podium positions the last four years, including wins in 1998 and 99.
"Basically, Dean and I are two co-drivers in the one car and you can't win the race with such a combination when the field is as competitive as it is," said Richards. "The combination of Glenn and Steve will be one of the hot favourites as a result. "I think Steve's record, on a percentage basis, is probably better than anyone in the field."
Ironically, both Perkins and Richards won their first three Bathurst titles as co-drivers with Peter Brock Richards in 1978-79-80 and Perkins in 1982-83-84 they have a massive 23 Bathurst podium finishes between them.
Richards then won the race in 1991 and 92 in a Nissan GT-R before clinching his sixth title in a Volvo in the 2-litre AMP 1000 in 1998.
"Whoever wins this year's race is going to earn it," said Richards. "The field is the most competitive we have ever seen at Bathurst."
Tickets for this year's event are on sale through Ticketmaster7.com or by phoning 136122.