With the 2015 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 now only days away, the bookies are having a hard time splitting the frontrunners.
Leading Australian bookmaker CrownBet.com.au has Jamie Whincup, Mark Winterbottom and Chaz Mostert dead level at $5 to win the race, a few bucks ahead of Craig Lowndes ($8).
But Sportsbet is offering slightly longer odds on Mostert ($5.50), while William Hill has Winterbottom a little bit further back at $6.
The trio is also heavily backed in the tussle for pole position, with the Winterbottom/Owen and Mostert/Waters teams (both $4) just ahead of Whincup/Dumbrell ($4.50) in CrownBet’s Bathurst 100 betting markets.
Missing from the tip sheet is James Courtney, who is still recovering from a punctured lung and broken ribs sustained in an accident at Sydney Motorsport Park in August.
In Courtney’s absence, Bathurst veteran Russell Ingall will continue to partner Jack Perkins for the Holden Racing Team.
That pairing is paying $23 to win with CrownBet in what is expected to be an ultra-fast race, with many pundits and fans predicting record lap times.
A restructured gearing system for the 2015 season has taken rev-limiters out of the equation, meaning V8 Supercars may now be able to top 300 kilometres per hour on the recently resurfaced straights at Mount Panorama.
But Whincup, a four-time Bathurst winner, believes lap times this weekend may actually be slower than they were last year.
“I would love to hype it up but the higher gear ratio, the slower it takes to accelerate,” Whincup told the press on Tuesday.
“There’s potential to do 300kph but I don’t think we will be as quick as last year to be honest.
“I don’t think [lap records] will happen, but hopefully I am wrong.”
Simona de Silvestro and Renee Gracie will be looking to set a different kind of record when they line up as the first all-female pairing since 1998.
More than 30 women have competed in the Great Race to date, but we have yet to see a female driver scale the podium at Bathurst.
Gracie and de Silvestro will enter as wildcards in a Prodrive Ford Falcon, and the Swiss driver told speedcafe.com she was quietly hopeful of besting the sixth-place finishes achieved by Christine Gibson and Marie-Claude Beaumont.
“I have always been a fan of the Bathurst 1000,” said de Silvestro, a former Formula One test driver for Sauber.
“It was a no brainer. In terms of goals, it is hard to say because I have never been to the track or raced in the cars so I can’t say we are going to win or anything like that.
“We have to be realistic, but if we can do our job correctly then I think we can have a good result.”
Sportsbet has de Silvestro and Gracie as $1001 long-shots to snatch an upset win at Bathurst 2015, while www.Bet365.com is offering $351 for a podium finish.
2015 Bathurst outright odds
Whincup/Dumbrell (Holden), Winterbottom/Owen (Ford), Mostert/Waters (Ford) – $5
Lowndes/Richards (Holden) – $8
Van Gisbergen/Webb (Holden) – $11
Reynolds/Canto (Ford) – $13
McLaughlin/Premat (Volvo) – $15
Tander/Luff (Holden) – $17
Coulthard/Youlden (Holden), Pye/Ambrose (Ford), Ingall/Perkins (Holden) – $23
Holdsworth/Bourdais (Holden) – $34
Bright/Jones (Holden), W Davison/A Davison (Mercedes) – $67
Slade/d’Alberto (Holden) – $101
Percat/Gavin (Holden) – $126
Caruso/Fiore (Nissan), R Kelly/Russell (Nissan) – $15
Heimgartner/Pedersen (Ford), Moffat/Douglas (Nissan), T Kelly/Buncombe (Nissan) – $251
Walsh/Le Brocq (Mercedes), Wall/Pither (Volvo), Wood/Jones (Holden), Blanchard/Reindler (Holden) – $501
A Russell/D Russell (Holden), de Silvestro/Gracie (Ford) – $1001
Our tips for 2015 Bathurst 1000
– Whincup/Dumbrell to win ($5 at CrownBet)
– Winterbottom/Owen to finish top Ford ($2.40 at William Hill)
– de Silvestro/Gracie to finish top 10 ($34 at CrownBet)
Jamie Whincup copped plenty of stick for his inability to conserve fuel down the stretch last year, but we are tipping the Holden star to make amends in 2015 and claim his fifth Bathurst 1000 title.
We’re also tipping Mark Winterbottom to edge out 2014 champion Chaz Mostert as the top Ford driver, although you can pretty much flip a coin on that one.
We would also love to see the wildcard pairing of Simona de Silvestro and Renee Gracie do well, so we say chuck a fiver on their all-female Ford to run in the top 10.
Sportsbet.com Bathurst 1000 money back special
Sportsbet – one of our top-rated V8 Supercars betting sites – is running a special offer this weekend for the main event at Mount Panorama.
If you bet on the Great Race and your car doesn’t finish, the good folks at Sportsbet will give you your money back (up to $100).
This deal applies to outright bets placed before 11:00am AEDT on Sunday, October 11.