John Bowe's 2022 Bathurst 1000 Wrap-Up
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John Bowe's 2022 Bathurst 1000 Wrap-Up

By JohnBowe - 11 October 2022

Podium Image:

This year’s Repco Bathurst 1000 was the first meeting in 37 years that I haven’t raced, at least in a support category or two, and it was a very different experience for me.

I’ve competed in 23 Bathurst 1000 races with two wins, five second places, a third place and many disappointments along the way. After retiring from Supercars, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to race in the Touring Car Masters and a couple of other categories.

Dick Johnson and myself on the Bathurst winners podium in 1989. Only seems like yesterday.

In my mind, the Bathurst 1000 is the greatest sporting event in Australia. I know that’s a big call, but it is a dramatic, excitement-filled event lasting up to 8 hours, depending on conditions, which puts it way ahead of the AFL and NRL finals and the Melbourne Cup.

Huge crowds and lots of sponsor activation happened throughout the weekend.
Lots of activity for me, but I would much rather be racing.

This year’s event allowed me to take in the atmosphere that racegoers have generated for decades and their dedication. It is also the last year that the Holden brand will compete in the great race.

The lead-up to the race was filled with drama, lots of it created by some of the worst conditions I’ve ever seen.

Raceday dawned fine, but the residue from a week of rain made the extremities of the circuit muddy and wet. Everyone knew that going off the track was a no-no, but in true Mount Panorama fashion, that’s exactly what happened.

On lap one, after only one corner, there was a massive pile-up as everyone jostled for position, a nightmare for the teams and authorities. Cars were damaged, and the safety car was activated for the first of many times. It was then we knew the race would be anything but straightforward.

Over the past few years, it’s become common to start with the co-drivers, who, in most cases, are not full-timers. The strategy of most teams is to save the number one driver for later laps when the tempo goes up.

In this year’s case, it was a tough call for some of the co-drivers because, on lap 6, a relative rookie made a mistake that created a huge crash eliminating three cars and ruining the chances of a few more. It’s become apparent that drivers must get through those early laps intact, as the race essentially comes alive in the last 40 laps or so, sometimes even later.

It was clear all day that the team Triple Eight car of Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander had the pace and the most capable driver combination and team in the pit bunker. The guys and girls in the pits control the race as far as strategy goes and the team on car 97 was faultless all day.

When it counted in the closing stages, no one could match their pace, although Chaz Mostert in the Mobil 1 car certainly tried. The current cars are tough to pass, and he couldn't get the job done.

So, Holden, who left Australian shores a few years ago, won the Bathurst 1000 for the final time. Even though the only thing Holden on the cars these days are the door handles and mirrors.

The all-new Ford Mustang GT Gen3 Supercar has broken cover at Mount Panorama.

Next year Supercars go to the next phase, called the Gen 3. Among other things, the Gen 3 cars intend to give more passing opportunities, which should provide better racing.

The Gen 3 cars will look like the new Ford Mustang and the current American Chevrolet Camaro, but they will be pure race cars under the skin.

One thing you can be sure of, the Repco Bathurst 1000 will remain the Great Race, regardless of who is in it.

I will give you a rundown on Gen 3, later on.

Happy motoring from JB