2020 will be in the history books as a year to remember for all of the wrong reasons. In a motorsport sense and for fans of the Red Lion in Australia’s premier tintop series, it’ll be the year that Holden, as a brand, officially fielded its last cars.
With the Supercars a tube-style chassis and panels, it’s a faux-Commodore that took to the street circuit on that famous mountain some 200 kilometres west of Sydney.
Of the brands that once raced in Supercars, the 2020 Bathurst 1000 was, in a way, a return to what had sold the series to spectators just a few years before: a battle between the blue and the red, between Ford and Holden.
Ford would run just eight cars that weekend, all in Mustang form, against 17 Commodore bodies. Drivers in the Holden camp were a mix of the known and the unknown. Winterbottom, Lowndes, Perkins, Tander, against Kostecki, Golding, Boys.
Practice sessions had the Ford muscles their way through to the top of the time charts in all but one of the seven and also in the warm-up session. Qualifying and it was even stevens for the top ten with five of each. The Mustang would take pole by a mere 0.0108 with Lee Holdsworth, no stranger to the Red Lion, heading Shane van Gisbergen. In fact, the top ten would be separated by a mere half second, and the top 24 by a mere 2.6 seconds.
Saturday and the famous top ten shootout was ominous for Holden, with the top two quickest times run by the Mustangs, with Holdsworth taking fifth fatest. Race day and it was one for the history books with New Zealand born Shane van Gisbergen and Western Australian Garth Tander completing 161 laps to greet the chequered flag.
However, again it was a five to five split in the top ten, and the Holden’s win was by only 0.866 of a second, with the same gap back to 3rd and again a Commodore. Six cars would fail to complete the 1000 kilometres and as numbers were Holden dominated in the entry list, all six would be Commodores. Notable in those six was the Commodore driven by multiple winners at Bathurst and championship winners, Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes.
However, 2021 is not the last hurrah for the Commodore, nor will it be under the umbrella of Holden. Cars that will run in the Supercars championship this year will be team based with Triple Eight Racing, to be known as Red Bull Ampol Racing in 2021, being how Holden badged cars without factory backing, will race in 2021.
Holden as a factory backed entry saw their last race at the Mountain in 2020. And they went out on a high. Vale, Holden at Bathurst.
(Pictures courtesy of Western Advocate, Edge Photographics & Fox Sports )