The 2020 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship season will see both the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 and Series’ winners crowned on the same day.
Could this change the driver and team objectives for the remainder of the season?
As the series heads to The Bend for the first of two rounds we take a look at the rest of the season.
Reigning champion Scott McLaughlin currently leads the championship by 143-points from Jamie Whincup, with their respective teams even closer in the team’s championship, only 42-points separating the two.
McLaughlin has said he doesn’t want the title battle to be tight going into Bathurst. Rather he wants to enter the round with a solid lead in the championship.
An understandable goal given anything can and will happen at Bathurst.
It will mean he needs to head into the round with at least 300-points over second place in the championship.
Currently, he sits 143-points ahead of Whincup, with two rounds left before Bathurst is it possible to wrap up the championship before the series hit the mountain?
Six-hundred points are still on offer before Bathurst, leaving the door open for him to clinch the championship ahead of the final round.
Though he would need to finish a few spots ahead of Whincup, who would also need to have a mediocre race or two.
While it is mathematically possible, is it likely?
Yes and no. Mclaughlin has been on form all year though he didn’t look as strong at Townsville, whereas Jamie Whincup has seemingly found more pace in his car, neither gaining many points on the other rather just matching each other.
With the championship fight so close, team orders may also come into play. Shane van Gisbergen is already showing he is willing to play the team game, giving Whincup an easier pass on McLaughlin in the final race in Townsville, although he didn’t let him through for the win and more points.
Then there is the track itself. The next round at The Bend will use the international circuit they have used the last two years, while the second will use the shorter west circuit.
Though the track is relatively new to the calendar it has been one that has proved tough for the drivers to get right, often giving the race results a shakeup.
No matter what happens, the races at The Bend could have a big impact on deciding the championship.
It’s not just the championship contenders that have a lot left to play for, Chaz Mostert currently sits third in the championship, his best previous result being a fifth.
Having a driver sitting comfortably inside the championship top 5 is a significant achievement for Mostert and Walkinshaw Andretti United, showing the improvements they have made this season.
Charlie Schwerkolt’s Team 18 are also looking strong in the team’s championship, sitting fifth in the team’s championship which would, if they finish the season there, make them the fourth team in pit lane.
Then there is Brad Jones Racing who have had a somewhat up and down season, showing great pace with Todd Hazelwood and Nick Percat, though they aren’t looking as good in the team’s current standing.
The team is always strong at Bathurst and at the Bend. With the improving pace, they have been showing in recent rounds, they could play themselves into the picture.
With Bathurst known for being unpredictable, the run to the end of the championship will be an interesting one.