David Reynolds heads to Mount Panorama, Bathurst, for Australia’s most prestigious motor race, the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000. The #26 Penrite Mustang driver reunites with Luke Youlden, a winning combination that took victory in the 2017 Bathurst 1000, sporting a new-look Penrite livery for the toughest yet most rewarding Supercars race on the calendar.
Like the Melbourne Cup or the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, Bathurst is an iconic sporting event that captures the imagination, its mystique and iconic status unmatched in local motor sport and recognised globally as one of the most difficult yet remarkable races on a magical circuit.
“I always sleep badly before Bathurst, it means so much,” said Reynolds ahead of the event. “You try and keep everything exactly the same going into every round, but for Bathurst you just have that little bit more energy, you’re a little bit more excited.”
“On the team side, they probably go a little bit more too, and they try and double-, triple-check and make sure everything’s perfect, and there’s a lot more preparation that goes into the car.”
This year’s 161-lap race is the final round and Race 31 of the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship, with its December date the latest The Great Race has ever taken place. The 2021 edition will also see a 12:15 starting time on Sunday December 5 instead of its usual morning start.
As a 1000km enduro, the event format sees multiple practice sessions beginning on Thursday and totalling four hours, ahead of a Saturday afternoon Top Ten Shootout before Sunday’s Great Race. During the race, fuel strategy will play a part, while teams will have to carry out a compulsory brake change during the 161 laps of the 6.213km track.
“Hopefully it’s going to be a crazy race, because I tend to love the craziness; crashes, raining, wet-dry, I love that – it’s the best,” said the Kelly Grove Racing driver. “I like the different elements it throws up. I love that, the nature of the beast. It’s completely different to a sprint race where everyone’s on the same set of tyres and the fastest car wins – there are a lot more elements to think about.”
Qualifying will play a crucial part, too, despite the unpredictable nature of the previous Bathurst races over nearly 60 years.
“As long as our car’s fast – that’s all that matters,” says Reynolds. “We just need a fast car to push when we need to, save fuel when we need to and race when we need to.”
The challenge for most is being in the lead pack in the final stint of the race. “That’s the part I love – the last 30 laps,” Reynolds said. “The whole strategy of what happened at the start of the day starts to play into itself, that’s just the best – it is such a cool race.”
Ahead of the battle, there’s serious preparation from the teams, drivers, engineers and everyone across the field vying to win The Peter Brock Trophy, as Reynolds and 2021 co-driver Luke Youlden did in 2017.
“Luke’s fitting in really well,” Reynolds said. “He had two rounds to himself as a full championship driver, and that’s the first time he’s had that, so I think he’s feeling more confident than he ever has.
“We do driver change practice and things like that, as we haven’t done it for a year. We’ve got to practice a lot more and look at what we did last year, and if we’re going to do the same this year – there’s a lot you’ve got to consider. Both of us are just looking forward to doing a couple of miles and seeing how pacey our car is and what we need to work on.”
The long and undulating Mount Panorama layout itself is a daunting yet exciting prospect, equally revered and respected for its unforgiving but rewarding nature.
“Turn 1 sets up your lap, it leads into a big straight; Turn 2 you start climbing the hill, and by the time you’re at the top you’re going flat-out, and it’s really blind and narrow, and you’re doing 220km/h then you crest it,” Reynolds explained.
“Then you go down and you can see Conrod Straight from up there, then you get down there and you’re on the longest straight in Australia and you’re doing 300km/h – there’s so much to it, it’s just awesome. It just flows really well, it’s just great.”
Qualifying for the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000 takes place at 4:35pm AEDT on Friday December 3, with the Top Ten Shootout at 5:05pm Saturday December 4. Race start is 12:15pm, Sunday December 5. Tickets are available via Supercars.com.au with coverage on Fox Sports, Network Seven and live streaming via Kayo