Toll Holden Racing Team returned to the winner’s podium to erase a year of turmoil by winning one of motorsport’s greatest prizes, the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000
New dad Garth Tander and rookie Nick Percat, the first man to win at Bathurst on debut since 1977, held of a rampant Craig Lowndes is yet another of the greatest finishes in the history of the amazing race.??
??With all of his guile and cunning Tander was somehow able to hold Lowndes back in the last five laps when a seven second lead turned into less than a second.
Aside from Peter Brock, Lowndes is an absolute magician at Mount Panorama but today it fell just short.?? ??Pepsi Racing Crew’s Greg Murphy and his Danish partner Allan Simonsen battled all day with a variety of dramas but held on to give the Kiwi another podium place.?? ??Shane van Gisbergen added to his championship points haul with an impressive sixth placing with John McIntyre in the SP Tools Ford.
Of the other Kiwis Steven Richards partners Mark Winterbottom (Orrcon Steel FPR Ford) to fourth place, Daniel Gaunt was co-driver for Tim Slade in the Stone Brothers Ford but the ill-fortune continued for Fabian Coulthard and Craig Baird in the Bundaberg Racing Holden when pushed into the wall on top of the mountain by Jason Bright, ending their hopes early in the day.??
??The ferocious battle up front was the big story of the day after another epic which included a massive crash and fireball for David Besnard, multiple safety cars including one for a kangaroo and another for an ill official and Lowndes with his team-mate Mark Skaife having to queue three times in the pits.??
??Tander said he knew where to pace himself to keep Lowndes at bay.?? ??“It was a bit closer than we had liked but we got there in the end,” Tander said.?? ??“What this will do is give the team a lot of belief that we are going in the right direction. To win this weekend is amazing and fantastic for the team. We will get a lot from this but we still have work to do.”?? ??
Lowndes lamented having to queue at three pit stops but put it down to the extenuating circumstances.?? ??“It’s one of those situations in a team when you have got two fast cars that are circulating around the same time and position it happens,” Lowndes said.?? ??“Every time we were in our pit window a safety car was called. I’m not sure how much time we lost but it was a fair bit. It is frustrating.”?? ??
Pole sitter Murphy was surprised that they managed to pop up at the end with the teams’ persistence through a rough day with pit stops paid dividends??.??“It was hard, real hard work. We are shocked to be where we ended up.”??
??Mark Winterbottom was the highest placed Ford driver in fourth, with Bright, van Gisbergen, James Courtney, Russell Ingall, Tony D'Alberto and Michael Caruso rounding out the top ten.?? ??
TeamVodafone's Jamie Whincup and Andrew Thompson were one of the hard luck stories of the race, with alternator problems dropping them out of contention late in the race.?? ??As a result Lowndes now leads the V8 Supercar Championship by 100 points.??
??Veteran David Besnard had the crash of the day in the Jim Beam Falcon he shared with Steven Johnson when he banged backwards into the all at more than 130km/h as he worked his way up the mountain after a pit stop.?? ??A loss of radio communications appeared to lead to the fact he did not ‘pump’ the brakes to get the pressure up after they changed brake pads.??
??“We put new pads in and normally you are told to pump the brakes,” Besnard said.?? ??“I wasn’t told, and I take some of the blame for that, started pumping the brakes and there was nothing there. Right at the end into the corner they came up, I locked the rears and into the wall.?? ??
“I’ve had some big ones but not for a few years. I’ve never had flames which is not great. It’s alright if you have a packet of marshmallows but that was no fun.”?? ??
Rookie Cameron Waters, still on his l-plates on public roads, had his Bathurst dream evaporate on only his fifth lap in the race when he hit the wall at Forrests Elbow.
?“At the end of the day, it was my mistake and there’s not much I can do about it,” Waters said. “I was on cold tyres and I probably pushed a little bard for what I had.”??
??But they got his car back some hours later, giving the 17-year-old some valuable time in the car to gain experience, despite the fact he was more than 50 laps behind.