Chaz Mostert and Paul Morris came from the back of the grid to claim victory on the final lap of a sensational Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
Mostert’s maiden Bathurst triumph came in just his second main game start on the mountain. Incredibly, the 22-year old only led one lap, overtaking Jamie Whincup down Conrod straight on the final lap after the Red Bull Racing Australia driver’s fuel gamble failed to pay off and he coughed over the line in fourth.
Despite 13 pitstops and a crash at Griffin’s Bend, Mostert/Morris recovered to take the chequered flag four seconds clear of the battered Nissan Altima of James Moffat and Taz Douglas.
Moffat and Douglas’ second place, Nissan’s first podium result in the Bathurst 1000 since 1992, was made all the more remarkable after Douglas ploughed into the tyres twice at Turn 2. The first came after contact with Cameron Waters, while the second was due to track surface break-up.
Claiming a well deserved final spot on the podium was the Heavy Haulage Australia Commodore pairing of Nick Percat and Brit Oliver Gavin in the only surviving Walkinshaw Racing Commodore.
“Wow – second year in main game and this happens!” said Mostert.
“We didn’t have it in qualifying but god we had it in the race … unbelievable … I had to have a crack and we pulled it off!”
“From 26th to 1st is unbelievable. Everything went our way, and now we’re Bathurst champions!”
Early leaders Scott McLaughlin and Alexandre Prémat crashed out after running wide at the cutting while David Reynolds retired under a safety car period with an alternator failure. Perhaps the most heart-breaking retirement involved Tekno Autosports driver Shane van Gisbergen who stalled in the pit lane and was unable to get the car restarted on lap 150, just 11 laps from home.
Will Davison alongside his brother Alex salvaged a horror weekend for Erebus Mercedes with a fourth place finish just ahead the ailing Whincup car.
Despite being spun by Lowndes in the final sprint Mark Winterbottom grabbed a sixth place finish which sees him move up to second in the championship. Lowndes was given a drive through penalty for his part in the incident.
Seventh and eighth place went to the two Jack Daniels Nissan Altima’s with Todd Kelly and Alex Buncombe leading home the Rick Kelly and David Russell.
Despite having to un-lap themselves Fabian Coulthard and Luke Youlden ended up being the highest placed Brad Jones Racing car after a disastrous day for the team. While BJR looked promising with all three cars starting in the top ten their luck swiftly ran out as two of their cars collided while under the control of the safety car. The incident resulted in the retirement of the Dale Wood/Chris Pither car and heavy damage to the Jason Bright/Andrew Jones car.
The second Red Bull racing Commodore of Craig Lowndes rounded out the top ten despite his late-race drive through penalty for the contact with Winterbottom.
Sitting just outside the top ten were wildcard entry Super Black Racing who drove tremendously to stay out of trouble in what became a battle of attrition. The pairing of Andre Heimgartner and Ant Pedersen was one of the least experienced in the field and will be happy with surviving such a chaotic race.
The race was the longest in history after the new surface broke up at Turn 2 forcing a red flag period for almost an hour on lap 61. Also contributing to the race length were the ten safety car periods that added to the drama by scrambling race positions and strategies throughout the day.
A couple of these safety car periods were for major incidents as a suspension failure on the Dick Johnson Racing Falcon of Scott Pye and Ash Walsh spun the car into the wall at the end of Conrod Straight where the cars reach around 300km/h. The incident capped of a miserable weekend for the team who earlier lost the number 17 as a transmission failure saw Steven Johnson spin out of the lead and into the wall at the top of the mountain.
Unfortunately for Erebus Motorsport Lee Holdsworth was once again involved in a massive race ending shunt.
Holdsworth was an innocent bystander when Russell Ingall out braked himself into turn two. The impact left Holdsworth stranded upside down while Ingall was able to keep racing. Ingall eventually received a black flag for his trouble which became meaningless after his co-driver Blanchard put the car into the wall at the cutting which prematurely ended their race.
The final round of the Pirtek Endurance Cup takes place at the Gold Coast 600 in just two weeks’ time.