The Supercars season of endurance is upon us, with the opening round of the PIRTEK Enduro Cup having just been run and won at Sandown. It ended in a one-two-three for Holden, but with a surprise winner in the Holden Racing Team with Garth Tander and Warren Luff – in an unexpected return to form for the HRT and a welcome boost that’s come hard on the heels of the unhappy news that Holden will not be supporting the once-all-conquering HRT beyond the end of this year. So, all of a sudden, another Holden team has stepped up to the plate in a 2016 season that’s been dominated by Holden drivers. The men from The General will go to the Mountain statistically best placed to bag the Bathurst 1000, but what of their challengers? The form guide suggests that if it's not going to be Holden , it might just be a Volvo Bathurst win.
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#33 Volvo S60 - SCOTT McLAUGHLIN
Just when McLaughlin and the GRM team seemed set to dominate came the news from Europe that Volvo wouldn’t be renewing its association with GRM for 2017. Whether that’s had anything to do with the team’s fluctuating form since the Phillip Island double win is anyone’s guess, but it can’t have helped. Both last year and in 2014 the S60 showed it is pretty handy at Bathurst – the 33 car could easily emerge as the one to beat.
Best in Bathurst 1000: 5th.
Career Best: 2012 NZ V8 Super Tourer Champion; 1st in class in 2016 Bathurst 12 Hours; 4th in 2016 Sandown 500; 5th in 2015 Bathurst 1000; 5th in 2014 V8SCS; 1st in 2012 Dunlop V8 Supercar Series.
#33 Volvo S60 - DAVID WALL
In David Wall GRM has opted for a known and capable quantity, in that he was a full timer with the team last year. He knows the car and the team; as he showed at Sandown where he shared the 33 car to fourth place with Scott McLaughlin, he’ll slot straight. Ironically, Wall as a hired co-driver with GRM-Volvo this year stands a better chance of winning Bathurst than he did as a full time driver with the team in 2015.
Best in Bathurst 1000: 14th.
Career Best: 2009 & 10 Australian GT Champion; 3rd in 2007 Australian GT Championship; 3rd in 2008 Sepang 12 Hours; 1st in class in 2013 Bathurst 12 Hours; 4th in 2009 & 11 Bathurst 12 Hours; 4th in 2016 Sandown 500.
#34 Volvo S60 - JAMES MOFFAT
Moffat started the year with his new team trailing McLaughlin for pace but over time has turned that around. There’s not much in it now; the only problem is that the S60 package doesn’t seem to be as competitive as it was earlier in the season. Still, Moffat’s good at Bathurst; two years ago he managed to finish second in a Nissan that was far from the fastest car in the field.
Best in Bathurst 1000: 2nd.
Career Best: 2nd in 2014 Bathurst 1000; 2nd in 2009 Dunlop V8 Supercar Series; 3rd in 2010 Dunlop V8 Supercar Series; 3rd in 2007 Australian Formula Ford Championship; 4th in 2008 Carrera Cup.
#34 Volvo S60 - JAMES GOLDING
When Garry Rogers gives the thumbs up to a young driver it’s a good idea to pay attention, because Rogers is the man who gave Garth Tander, Jamie Whincup and McLaughlin their starts in Supercars. But Golding’s start in Supercars could hardly have been more disastrous, with that heavy shunt on the first lap of the Sandown 500 after a tyre deflated. The 20 year-old has been very impressive in the Dunlop Series, but after that setback at Sandown, Bathurst looms a major test of the young driver’s resilience and character.
Best in Bathurst 1000: Rookie.
Career Best: 3rd in 2014 Australian Formula Ford Championship; 10th in 2013 Australian Formula Ford Championship; 10th in 2015 Dunlop V8 Supercar Series.
So far in 2016 for Volvo…
This could be the last opportunity for a second Volvo Bathurst win (Jim Richards scored Volvo's first Bathurst victory, in a Volvo S40 in 1998) given that the company is exiting Supercars at the end of 2016. But what a way it would be to go out – 30 years since Volvo’s Australian Touring Car Championship victory. It’s been a turbulent season so far for the GRM Volvo team both on and off the track, but when you unpack the 2016 stats the reality is that Volvo is the marque most likely to deny Holden at Bathurst. Scott McLaughlin is currently fourth in the championship, trailing three Holden drivers, and his clean sweep of victories at Phillip Island means that the Swedish marque so far this year has more wins on board than both Ford and Nissan. The other thing about the Volvo is that it’s proven itself to be exceptionally fast around Mount Panorama.