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Analysis: The new championship battle

DJR Team Penske’s bid to end a 25-year winless run at Bathurst comes up against a formidable Triple Eight Race Engineering driver line-up in the 2019 PIRTEK Enduro Cup, a championship within a championship.

15 September 2019

Scott McLaughlin’s record-breaking 2019 season looks set to carry he and DJR Team Penske to the drivers’ and teams’ championship wins. According to McLaughlin, the points buffer will allow them to go all-out at the endurance events.

“We want to attack in the enduros”¦ Bathurst is the next thing on my list and I don’t want to be worried about a points gap” he says.

While McLaughlin will be gunning for a first Bathurst win, DJR Team Penske (formerly Dick Johnson Racing) will be out to end a 25-year drought at Mount Panorama dating back to Dick Johnson and John Bowe’s win in 1994. The team has not won a 500km or 1000km enduro since the 2001 Queensland 500 with Steven Johnson and Paul Radisich.

DJR Team Penske enters the PIRTEK Enduro Cup with an unchanged driver line-up with Alexandre Prémat alongside McLaughlin and Tony D’Alberto with Fabian Coulthard. But it’s the Triple Eight Race Engineering line-up that could close the gap to the form team of 2019.

Craig Lowndes and Garth Tander return to Superars at Triple Eight Race Engineering, forming one of the strongest driver line-ups since full-time drivers were no longer allowed to partner one another for the endurance events from 2010. 

Lowndes and Jamie Whincup were co-drivers between 2006 and 2009, winning the Bathurst 1000 three times in a row from 2006 to 2008. Between them they have won 10 Supercars championships and 11 Bathurst 1000s. 

“In some ways it feels like we’re getting the band back together!” says Whincup. 

“Our previous results are no indication of how we’ll go this time around, but if there’s anyone you’d want on your side at Bathurst, it’s Craig Lowndes!”

Tander joins Triple Eight Race Engineering after losing his drive at Garry Rogers Motorsport. He has won the Bathurst 1000 three times and will be out to help Shane van Gisbergen achieve a maiden win in the endurance classic. They’ve both won the Supercars championship with a title each. 

“Craig is back driving with Jamie, which is fitting, and if you can’t have Craig, then Garth is definitely the best person to have on your team” says van Gisbergen.

“As far as experience goes, there’s probably not many better drivers. It’s pretty special to have someone of his calibre with multiple Bathurst wins.”

With Bathurst at the start of the PIRTEK Enduro Cup, driver preparation and experience is seen as vital for teams. 

Other entries to watch include Steven Richards reuniting with 2013 Bathurst 1000-winning co-driver Mark Winterbottom at Team 18; Michael Caruso alongside Cameron Waters at Tickford Racing, where reigning Gold Coast 600 winners Chaz Mostert and James Moffat are together again; and 2017 Bathurst 1000 winners David Reynolds and Luke Youlden and young-guns Anton De Pasquale and Will Brown at Erebus Motorsport. 

CLICK HERE for details on SupercarXtra Magazine issue #113, your must-have guide to the 2019 PIRTEK Enduro Cup.