Chronicles of the Bathurst 1000
The Bathurst 1000 has seen some unpredictable and wild moments in its long history that have come to define the race and Australian motorsport as a whole. There are plenty of reasons why the Bathurst 1000 draws motor racing fans from all over. Here are ten moments from the race's long history that keep bringing us back every year. Click on the titles to watch them on Youtube.
The Rookie and The Pro
The 2011 Bathurst 1000 would be a baptism of fire for rookie Nick Percat, driving alongside veteran Garth Tander in the Holden Racing Team no. 2 Commodore. After starting ninth, they would be up the front for most of the race, with Percat learning and impressing as he held on among the frontrunners, despite a scary moment with contact coming out of Turn 2. As the race wound down, Percat would finish his final stint giving the reigns to Tander. As Safety Cars bred chaos, Tander would hold off Craig Lowndes to the final corner, winning the race by two tenths of a second, one of the closest finishes in Bathurst history.
The Failed Redress
How do you take three competitive cars out of contention in a couple of corners? Just ask Jamie Whincup. Although he’s one of the most successful V8 Supercar drivers, he has missed out on a chance at hoisting the Peter Brock Trophy a handful of times. 2016 would be one of those examples. Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell would start on pole, alongside Scott McLaughlin and David Wall. The two fastest cars in qualifying would still find themselves locked in battle on lap 150 of the 161-lap race. Whincup would dive down the inside of McLaughlin at the Chase with Garth Tander right behind in third. The dive would force McLaughlin’s GRM Commodore off the track. Whincup would slow to let him join the track ahead, however, this would compromise Tander, and the three leaders would collide. McLaughlin would spin into the wall and Tander would be out of the race completely. Jamie Whincup would receive a 15-second penalty, meaning he had to finish 15 seconds ahead of second place Will Davidson to win. However, another Safety Car for Todd Kelly stranded in the gravel would halt Whincup’s charge. With the penalty, Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell would be classified 11th as Davidson and Jonathon Webb would hold off Shane Van Gisbergen to win the great race by a paper thin 0.14 seconds!
Dick Johnson and The Rock
Motorsport is quite unpredictable if you didn’t know. There are several factors that can take a driver and team out of the lead of the race: Mechanical failures, a driver mistake or strategy being flipped on its head thanks to changing racing conditions. Or you could crash into a rock that had rolled onto the track that some spectators had been leaning on! Does that sound too specific? Because that is exactly what happened to Dick Johnson. After starting second and grabbing an early lead, Lap 17 would be when it went all badly wrong. With a truck picking up a broken car, Johnson had nowhere to go but hit a boulder that had found itself on the track, causing his Ford Falcon to go airborne and into the wall, ending his race. Bathurst 1000 telecast would then become a mix of race coverage and a telethon from fans donating enough money for Dick Johnson to rebuild his car. And despite Johnson thinking he'd had enough of racing thanks to bad luck; he’s been a part of the V8 Supercars ever since.
Murphy's Lap of the gods
When it came to qualifying, Ayrton Senna was the master of Monaco, Rick Mears was ‘The Rocket’ at Indy, and Greg Murphy was the fastest at the Mountain. This he proved in 2003 with what is dubbed ‘the lap of the gods’. He had been fastest in multiple practice sessions and the first stage of qualifying. However, the task of beating John Bowe’s 2:07.956 during the Top 10 shootout “looked as big as the mountain he was about to tame.” So, everyone was glued to their screens when Greg Murphy went faster by four tenths of a second in just the first sector. Passing the second sector mark, he was almost seven tenths up. He would cross the line with a time of 2:06.859, a lap record at the time and beating Bowe by a staggering 1.09 seconds!
Take a bow Greg Murphy, that was something very special in the history of Bathurst!” – Matt White
From Last to the Turn 2 Wall… Then Victory Lane
Chaz Mostert and Paul Morris would start from the back of the grid after being disqualified from qualifying for breaching the red flag conditions. To pass them off as a non-factor for the race win wouldn’t have been unkind, particularly when Paul Morris found the Turn 2 wall, and was lucky to continue. But they did have a fast car, and by the end of the race, whilst the main contenders had all fallen to the wayside, it was Chaz Mostert hunting down the low on fuel Whincup in what would turn out to be one of the greatest finishes in Bathurst history. 1000km’s of endurance racing would all come down to a single lap around the Mountain.
Farewell to The King
No driver defines Australian motorsport and the Bathurst 1000 more than 9-time winner Peter Brock. His legacy and imprint on Holden and the V8 Supercars are immeasurable, not to mention his student, Craig Lowndes. On September 8, 2006, Brock would be killed during the Targa West rally. That October at Bathurst there would be an outpouring of emotion and tributes to the King of the Mountain.
It’s time to say farewell to Peter, in the way he would have wanted. Let’s go racing on the Mountain!” – Leigh Diffey
Lowndes would pick up three spots into Turn 1 of the race and by lap 25, would have a six second lead. Using all of Brock’s lessons, both Lowndes and Whincup would be up front all day as a key contender for the win. With 15 laps to go, Lowndes had a 7 second lead to Rick Kelly, but the field would be bunched up one more time with 7 laps to go. Lowndes, however, was just too good, hoisting the new Peter Brock trophy on the podium.
Lowndes [and Whincup] have done it! On the day he farewelled his friend!” – Leigh Diffey
Godzilla The Enemy
The Nissan Skyline R32 GTR was coined by Australian journalists as Godzilla. Not because it was awesome beast, but because its dominance was seemingly destroying Australian cars in a bad way. The 1992 Bathurst 1000 would only increase this notion and the hatred of the GTR by Holden and Ford faithfuls. On lap 143, rain and hail would drench the track and surrounding suburbs, and soon enough many cars would find themselves in the wall. The race was declared finished on lap 145. Jim Richards in the No.1 GTR would find himself in a pile of cars on the back straight, whilst Dick Johnson in the Ford Sierra would cross the line, thinking he’d won. However, as were the rules back then, the race would be backdated to the last lap before the need for a red flag, giving the win to Richards and Mark Skaife in the GTR. Fans were not happy and showed their disapproval with loud booing as Richards & Skaife climbed onto the podium. Not happy with the reception, Jim Richards gave us what now are some of the most famous words spoken at the Mountain:
I thought Australian race fans had a lot more to go than this… This is bloody disgraceful.. You’re a pack of assholes!” – Jim Richards
The XB Falcon Dominates
This was the year that Ford was saved at Bathurst. The new XB Falcon dominated the race unlike anything that had come before it. However, the real story comes near the end of the race, as Alan Moffat would suffer from failing brakes. and as he was the team boss as well, he ordered Colin Bond in the No.2 XB Falcon to hold station as they drove side by side for the final lap to the chequered flag, just as Ford had done at Le Mans in 1966.
Slick Track Causes Chaos
“We’ve been waiting for this race to explode and now it has!”
With 20 laps to go in 2007’s instalment of the Bathurst 1000, Jason Bright had a 28 second lead, but would have to pit for a splash of fuel to make it to the end. Mark Winterbottom and Steven Richards were second, with Craig Lowndes breathing down their necks. Rain started to fall with 16 laps to go, and two laps later, Paul Morris would spin at ‘The Cutting’, bringing out the safety car, and turning the race on its head. The Britek Motorsport team would take this opportunity to fill Bright up with fuel and change tyres, not rain tyres, but cold slicks, on a wet track. The Safety Car bunched up the field and let the V8 Supercar field continue their battle on lap 148. Now the race would explode. Winterbottom being the first to experience how wet it was on the back straight, would send it through the gravel trap at the Chase, almost taking out second place Lowndes and surrendering the lead. Everyone was on slick tyres, but Bright on fresh cold ones was struggling to find any grip. Their race would turn further upside down when Jason Bright would slide into the wall at McPhillamy, with Russell Ingall and Mark Skaife following suite. After another Safety Car restart, Lowndes and Steven Johnson would battle for the lead, side by side on the slick track. James Courtney would join the battle when Lowndes made a gutsy move into Turn 1. But there was no stopping Craig Lowndes, with Jamie Whinchup as co-driver, they would score back-to-back Bathurst wins.
Motor racing teams and drivers aren’t very good at being sneaky or deceptive. Think back to the 2010 German GP, when Ferrari wanted to swap their driver's position (which wasn’t allowed at the time), so they gave Felipe Massa a coded message. That being “Fernando is faster than you, can you confirm you understand this message”. Ferrari would be fined $100,000 for interfering with the final race results. Even more hilarious and pathetic was DJR’s attempt at backing up the field near the end of the 2019 Bathurst 1000 so they wouldn’t be affected by having to double stack their cars. However, what takes the cake is what happened to Stone Brothers Racing and Marcos Ambrose in 2005, as they were a favourite for the win that day. On lap 102, race officials would be questioning Ambrose’s co-driver as to whether he had been wearing his balaclava (fire protection for the head) during his previous stint in the car. Unable to prove without doubt that he had been wearing it, the No.1 Falcon was given a drive through penalty, as officials attempted to find out through video footage if Ambrose himself was wearing one also. Finally on lap 119, the question was asked directly to Ambrose.
Marcos… are you wearing your balaclava there now?”
He wasn’t, and on lap 122 Ambrose would come in to put on his balaclava. It would get worse however as on the safety car restart, Ambrose and Murphy would collide at Turn 3, blocking the track and going head-to-head in more ways than one. Murphy was fuming, and Ambrose had had enough.
Leave a Reply.