Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen leads the Supercars title race heading into this year's Big Race and the Weekend Herald wanted to know what a lap of the place looks like from behind the steering wheel.

"Probably the most important corner at Bathurst is Turn One. It sets you up for the first big run up the mountain. It's an easy corner on paper, but is probably worth the most time [for a fast lap].

"Turn Two is a crazy uphill corner that's tough to get right. You then head into the Cutting, which is a double left with the first part being blind and then hard into the second kink. You'll probably touch the wall about five times if you get it right and lose the odd wing mirror rubbing against the fence, which is cool.

"[Next is] Reid Park and there's a bump ... in the middle that upsets the car so you have to get it just right. You again exit hard up against the wall banging the wing mirror.

"The next tough part is through Sulman Park and is probably the craziest corner on the track in my opinion. You come down the hill and at the bottom the car compresses so much the steering binds up and the power steering just can't cope with the load. You get in there and have to set the steering and hope you get it right. That's where Scotty Pye's steering broke [2015].

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"McPhillamy Park is the next one and is where all the fans are. You come over the top and all four wheels are off the ground and you have to make sure the car's pointed in the right direction. It's an awesome section.

"You then go across Skyline and you start the race down the hill with a tight, drop away right-hander. Every time you take a bit of a gulp, as it's so steep [The Dipper], but it's still pretty cool [winding down the hill].

"You're now coming up to Forrest's Elbow, which you have to get right to get a good drive early on to Conrod [Straight].

"It's a straight run now where we're getting up to 300km/h before you get to The Chase where you have to brake really hard for the 90 degree left hander. You need about 100 kg of pressure on the brake peddle [equivalent to a 100kg single leg press]. Doing that all day is pretty hard on the leg and the car.

"The last corner, again, looks simple on paper but it's really hard to get right because it's so bumpy.

"There are so many corners where you can't see the apex or the exit so you've just got to trust your track knowledge. And that's why so many people struggle in the first few years here."

THE CONTENDERS

Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell

Jamie Whincup. Photo / Photosport
Jamie Whincup. Photo / Photosport

This well established pair have been anointed the bookies' favourite just in front of teammates Shane van Gisbergen and Earl Bamber. Since winning The Great Race in 2012 the quick pair have regularly been in contention for most of the race. They've come unstuck through bad decisions and penalties, however this weekend will be hot-to-trot having won the opening gambit of the Pirtek Enduro Cup.

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Shane van Gisbergen and Earl Bamber

Shane van Gisbergen. Photo / Photosport
Shane van Gisbergen. Photo / Photosport

The Triple Eight outfit has put the frighteners up the rest of the field after a dominant display by all three cars (Van Gisbergen and Bamber second and Craig Lowndes and Steve Richards third). Van Gisbergen has yet to knock off a win at Bathurst and this year could be his best shot. Bamber may be a rookie at the 1000, but he's had a coupe of yahoos in the Bathurst 12 hour, so knows the circuit well and is no stranger to endurance racing having won the Le Mans 24 hour twice.

Scott McLaughlin and Alexandre Premat

Scott McLaughlin. Photo / Photosport
Scott McLaughlin. Photo / Photosport

The best of the rest of the field at the Sandown 500. The team will need to find some pace if they are to challenge the Triple Eight cars, however, in their favour is the race itself. You need a fair amount of luck to get home in one piece, let alone win. The pair were quick last year before mechanical gremlins put paid to their race, and McLaughlin does have the bragging rights of setting the fastest lap in qualifying last year. Premat is solid and knows his way around the circuit.

David Reynolds and Luke Youlden

David Reynolds. Photo / Photosport
David Reynolds. Photo / Photosport

The defending Bathurst 1000 champions are returning to Bathurst in a confident mood and could just be the first back-to-back winners in more than a decade. A big ask but more than possible. The Erebus crew have got the car working well and Reynolds is showing some good form and sits fifth in the title race. So far this season he's had two race wins and been on the podium five times. Youlden is just the sort of co-driver to make things happen as he's quick and has a safe pair of hands.

Chaz Mostert/James Moffat and Mark Winterbottom/Dean Canto

Chaz Mostert. Photo / Photosport
Chaz Mostert. Photo / Photosport

It might seem a bit odd picking two pairings as outsiders. Despite having the worst season in years, Ford squad Tickford racing did win Bathurst in 2013 and 2014. None of the team's cars have threatened at all this year, but Bathurst is a strange place and it would not be at all surprising if either pairing pulled one out of the bag and sneaked a win. Both Mostert and Winterbottom have stood on the top spot Sunday so know what it takes to win.