The Bathurst 1000 this weekend will either be the comeback of Shell V Power DJR Team Penske as a dominate team, or they will leave Mount Panorama scratching their heads as to where the early season pace disappeared to.

The Ford-powered team with Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard were the early pace setters for the 2018 season while the rest of field struggled to match their car speed. It's a different looking championship now, with the Red Bull Racing Holden Racing Team hitting its straps and making the rest of the pack look a bit shabby pace-wise.

A clean sweep of the podium at the first race of the Pirtek Enduro Cup saw all three of the Triple Eight engineered cars put the rest of the field to the sword.

As anyone who follows motorsport to any extent knows, Bathurst is a race where all previous form is out the window, but speed not so. And for McLaughlin to reassert himself as a championship contender his team might just have to up the ante this weekend.


DJR Team Penske general manager Ryan Story knows they have to provide a good car for both McLaughlin and teammate Fabian Coulthard. Practice looked good Thursday afternoon with both cars inside the top five; race day though is a different kettle of fish.

"Things are certainly a bit busy at the moment, that's for sure," Ryan told the Herald. "Bathurst is the pinnacle and what we race Supercars for. We race Supercars to conquer mountains and this is a very special place in deed and it's not an easy track to overcome and stand on top of the podium.

"The place is big, and 161 laps around here is hard. If you make it to the end you've done a pretty stellar job and it's a significant part of the year that is focused on this particular race."

Last year McLaughlin's race was over by lap 74 and the team salvaged some pride with Coulthard finishing third. Heading into this race the team are scratching their head as to why the Triple Eight cars have a speed advantage. If practice is anything to go by, they might just have found something.

"Our main competitors have done a better job than us lately and it's as simple as that. We've had a couple of rounds that has seen our championship advantage dwindle away and we've had some work to do.

"We've been undaunted by the challenge and this weekend will be a tough one that's for sure. Everything has to be pretty much right all weekend. Here in Australia this race follows on from the AFL and NRL grand finals so people sitting at home with not a lot to do will now be watching us at Bathurst.

"They say the Melbourne Cup is the race that stops a nation but the numbers tell a different story. The race that stops Australia is the Bathurst 1000. Every driver and every team wants to win this one," said Story.

Story and co haven't quite got it right at mount Panorama. They've come close on a number of times but no cigar. He reckons they've found a bit of pace in the car and is looking forward to a good tilt at standing on the top spot Sunday afternoon.


"More often than not in the past we've got it wrong here, but we head into here on the back of some good form from last year.

"We're confident without being cocky and a measured performance and a sensible day we could be in with a shot at the end," he said.