THIS weekend as the finest from Ford, Holden and Nissan do battle at Sandown, it will mark the start of the annual Enduro Cup.
Now in its fifth year, the Supercars’ Enduro Cup will see the best driver pairings do battle across Australia’s iconic endurance events.
It begins with Sunday’s Sandown 500 before the teams arrive at Mount Panorama in October for the Bathurst 1000.
Then, after the 161-laps of the Great Race play out at the Mount and the Peter Brock Trophy awarded, the Enduro Cup concludes with the Gold Coast 600.
Who will be crown the Enduro Cup champions this year remains to be seen, but what is certain is that the battle will be intense.
THE SANDOWN 500
The Sandown 500 is know as the ‘Retro Round’, as teams celebrate the touring car eras of the 60s, 70s and 80s.
Teams mark the event by using historic car liveries and retro retro uniforms.
Many of them give a nod to those which have been made famous on the slopes of Mount Panorama
It brings an element of fun to what will be an intense battle.
Let’s take a look at some of the hopefuls
#18 Preston Hire Racing: Lee Holdsworth and Jason Bright
Lee Holdsworth and Jason Bright will be taking their #18 Preston Hire Commodore back in time at as a nod to the 1968 Bathurst 500 winning Holden Monaro, driven by Bruce McPhee.
Wyong Motors entered the Holden Monaro and Bruce McPhee as an underdog, who upset the bigger factory teams by running a buffed hard wearing street tyre rather than a racing tyre to win the ninth running of the Bathurst 500.
McPhee and the #13 Monaro were the first Holden Winners of the Bathurst event 50 years ago.
Holdsworth believes the teams retro Sandown 500 livery reflects the Pirtek Enduro Cup campaign that he and Bright are about to embark on, also running in the events as underdogs.
"There couldn’t be a more appropriate livery for Preston Hire Racing heading into the endurance season,” Holdsworth said.
“This scheme represents the livery of an underdog team that lead Holden to their first win at the Mountain 50 years ago.
“We all start with a clean slate of points for the Enduro Cup. Brighty and I will be pushing hard to spring a surprise result.”
#14 Brad Jones Racing: Tim Slade and Ash Walsh
This livery provides a throwback to one of the Australian motor racing greats – Bob Jane and his stunning Holden GTS350 HQ Monaro.
Bob (Robert) Jane, a Supercars Hall of Fame member, won the Australian Touring Car Championship four-times, and was a four-time winner of the Armstrong 500, which is now known as the great Bathurst 1000.
“I believe the team have nailed it again this year with the Bob Jane retro livery. It’s a simple design, and the history behind it is what really connects with the fans,” Slade said.
#55 Tickford Racing: Chaz Mostert and James Moffat
These guys are emulating the livery run by Steven Ellery and Luke Youlden’s Supercheap Auto Ford BA Falcon across the 2004 season.
“Obviously it’s retro round so we’ve thrown it back to the past,” said Mostert.
“We dug deep into the Supercheap Auto raw history and we picked out an absolute winner for this weekend’s Sandown 500.
“I’m pretty excited, I’m pretty close friends with the Ellery family so to go back to his ’04 retro livery looks pretty cool. I’m actually pretty jealous of the lines this car carries. I wish we could carry it for the rest of the year, but we’ll see if we can convince the team after the weekend.”
#17 Shell V Power Racing: Scott McLaughlin and Alexandre Premat
The Shell Power Racing Ford Falcon Supercars will feature a special tribute livery in celebration of Dick Johnson's 1988 Championship winning Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth.
“Those Sierras were the best touring cars on the planet, and we were completely and totally on top of our game,” Johnson said.
“Seeing that classic livery on these cars is very special and brings back many great memories.
"It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years, but amazing to relive those fantastic times and see that livery back on track.”
#9 Erebus Motor Sport: David Reynolds and Luke Youlden
The defending Bathurst 1000 champions – Erebus' David Reynolds Luke Youlden – are giving a nod to the Holden Commodore VK driven to victory in the 1986 Bathurst 1000.
Back then privateer Graeme Bailey and lead driver Allan Grice used the Chickadee brand.
“It’s very cool not only for what it achieved, but it reminds me of our win in a lot of ways,” said Reynolds.
“It was a win against-the-odds; a little team who started second on the grid and defeated the favourites, exactly like we did.”
#2 and #25 Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing: Scott Pye and Warren Luff + James Courtney and Jack Perkins
This team is giving a nod to one of the Holden Racing Team greats – Mark Skaife – by emulating the livery he used in his final season.
Skaife contested his final full-time Supercars season in 2008, alongside then-new recruit and defending champion Garth Tander.
“There’s no denying the power in our history. It’s a livery and period which our fans are so passionate about, and we are delighted to bring that to life at Sandown,” co-team principal Bruce Stewart said.
“We have a diverse fan base, both young and old, so we wanted to pay tribute to a livery that is recognisable with all age groups, and that was so well-loved across generations.
“It’s also fitting to pay tribute to the contribution that Mark Skaife made to this team. He is not only a legend of this team, but the sport as a whole.”
#78 Team Harvey Norman: Simona De Silvestro and Alex Rullo
Taking inspiration from race cars of the 1960ʼs, the #78 Team Harvey Norman entry will complete the first endurance race of the year in a distinctive new design.
“The car looks really cool,” said De Silvestro.
“Sandown is a lot of fun with the retro theme. Itʼs a very serious weekend with a lot of points on offer, but itʼs also something thatʼs a bit different. A racing stripe is always worth a few tenths, for sure.”
“Alex has shown really good pace in Super2. Heʼs won a race and he really knows his way around the car. This is my second enduro campaign, so I know what to expect and am excited about the challenge ahead.”
#230 Milwaukee Racing: Will and Alex Davison
Will Davison is joined by brother Alex for the Sandown, Bathurst and Gold Coast events, the pair having shared an Erebus Mercedes in 2014 and '15.
While their Falcon does not pay tribute to any particular car of the past, it does have a retro feel.
“We both feel really privileged to be able to be given the opportunity to drive together," Alex Davison said.
"When we look back on this when we’re 80 and frail, in a nursing home, there will be some good stories to tell.
“We both are still really passionate about racing, we support each other well, we love seeing each other do well and what better way to achieve that then by doing do it together.”
#15 Nissan Motorsport: Rick Kelly and Garry Jacobson
The iconic retro theme of the #15 Altima pays tribute to the Castrol Perkins Racing entries of Russell Ingall, Steven Richards and Larry Perkins that competed across the 2002 V8 Supercars Championship.
The 2002 Castrol Racing livery has a strong emotional connection for Kelly who made his full-time Supercars debut in the same year.
“A lot of my memories of our sport are signposted by the Castrol cars that raced at that time”, said the 2006 Supercars Champion.
“This car is particularly special for me because 2002 was my first full-time year in the Championship. So itʼs quire surreal to see a car that I raced against, but with my name on it.”
#21 Team Cool Drive: Tim Blanchard and Dale Wood
In a throwback to a memorable 1993 livery, Tim Blanchard is honuoring one of his heroes both on and off the track - his father, John Blanchard.
The 1993 campaign was John Blanchard’s one and only full-time season behind the wheel in the Australian Touring Car Championship when he was part of the four car Logamo Racing Team. Logamo Racing was the combination of ‘Lo’ Tony Longhurst, ‘Ga’ the late Frank Gardner and ‘Mo’ Terry Morris.
John competed in 8 rounds and 15 races of the Australian Touring Car Championship, his best finish was 9th at Winton. He also contested at Bathurst with BTCC driver Jeff Allam, crossing the line in a notable 11th position, plus being the top BMW finisher.
“It’s pretty special to honor my Dad’s time in Supercars,” Tim Blanchard said.
“The livery is going to resonate with a lot of the old school Supercar fans which is what we believe the retro is all about. We’ve gone old school and kept it personal which makes this a different story from the rest.”
# 8 Brad Jones Racing: Nick Percat and Macauley Jones
This entry is being supported by Snapes Project Logistics, which was established in 1932.
Snapes have admired the Brad Jones Racing family and have followed their progress over the years.
“Macauley Jones is my co-driver again for this year’s Pirtek Endurance Cup and there is no doubt we’re excited for the events ahead,” Percat said.
“Macauley has had plenty of time behind the wheel in the last couple of months; including wild card entries at Darwin and Tailem Bend, his Super2 rounds plus our two test days at Winton.
“I know Macauley is as comfortable in the car as ever and that really helps to build confidence for any co-driver. Looking at his recent results, Macauley has been fast, even out-qualifying some of the top drivers at Tailem Bend.”