THE most anticipated event on the V8 calendar has arrived as competitors take part in the Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama.
Scott McLaughlin started on pole after recording the fastest lap ever seen on the mountain in Saturday’s top 10 shootout but his car lost power and his race ended, his dream weekend turning into a nightmare.
There’s rain about in Bathurst as the weather presents an added challenge to drivers in the 161-lap race.
Chaz Mostert dropped nearly four seconds when he ran off the track after James Courtney rammed a barrier. Mostert’s team told him to pit but he missed it.
James Moffat had to come in, spinning off and losing his third position. A couple of laps after he returned to the track another crash into the wall ended his race as he left the car and was attended to by medics.
It’s all about fuel consumption now — some teams are being brave and hoping their drivers can see the race out. The result will come down to strategy with 20 laps to go.
That point was emphasised when the rain started falling once again, creating doubt over whether to stay on the slicks or change tyres if teams think the track will become even wetter.
Wet weather gun Shane van Gisbergen — who was leading — then spun out and Mostert got caught in a skirmish. The chaos allowed Nick Percat to assume front position.
Shane van Gisbergen jumped Chaz Mostert in pit lane after the safety car came out following Rick Kelly’s mishap. He slid straight off the track and became stranded in sand.
The field is finding some serious speed as the track dries out, Mostert and Nick Percat getting into a groove before the safety car arrived.
The safety car came out for the third time today when a rock on the track caused concern.
Earlier, Fabian Coulthard put on a nice move to get past Garth Tander and surge into 10th.
James Courtney raced into fifth while Tim Slade was doing things the hard way, his team having to feed him a “remote bottle” to get his fluids at a pit stop, leading the commentators to question if he was driving without a water bottle.
Chaz Mostert and James Moffat engaged in some argy bargy at Murray’s corner — the turn that’s proved most difficult to handle today — but Shane van Gisbergen was staying out of trouble as he took the lead during lap 122.
James Courtney is under investigation for a possible safety car infringement while Will Davison received a pit lane penalty for a safety car procedure breach.
Nick Percat is looking the goods, slicing through the field but Mostert is also hitting his straps, retaking front position from van Gisbergen. Richie Stanaway has slipped back to third.
His day took a turn for the worse but Scott McLaughlin showed what a class act he is, refusing to spit the dummy.
He completed TV and radio interviews, answering questions thoughtfully and honestly even though he was no doubt gutted after his car died on lap 75, ending his race.
McLaughlin hadn’t lost his sense of humour either, as his tweets during the race showed.
Cameron Waters is maintaining his lead after 110 laps, Nick Percat and Luke Youlden in second and third.
We’re 100 laps down at Mount Panorama on a wet and wild day in Bathurst.
Cameron Waters is at the front of the pack and Luke Youlden (David Reynolds’ co-driver) and Steve Owen (Chaz Mostert’s co-driver) are behind him in second and third. Nick Percat (with Macauley Jones) and Richard Muscat (James Moffat) round out the top five.
A kangaroo brought the safety car out before any rain-related mishaps did, the rogue roo going for a frolic at the 88-lap mark.
Scott McLaughlin’s dream of turning his record-breaking effort in Saturday’s top-10 shootout into a win at Mount Panorama is over, his car losing power and conking on lap 75.
The Shell V-Power Racing car showed ominous signs of failing earlier in the day and the team’s efforts to restore power — including resetting the electrical system — haven’t been able to save the day.
McLaughlin set the fastest lap ever seen at Bathurst yesterday but a dream weekend has turned into a nightmare. His co-driver Alex Premat was behind the wheel when the car finally gave up.
“What heartbreak for Alex Premat and Scott McLaughlin,” commentator Mark Skaife said.
“We were battling anyway. It is tough but there is one car left and now I will cheer on Fabian Coulthard to the end.”
Amazingly, even with all the slipping and sliding we’ve seen in 56 laps, the safety car hasn’t made a single appearance.
It’s a minor miracle no one has been ruled out of the race following a mishap as every driver has recovered from whatever setback they’ve faced.
Alex Premat and Scott McLaughlin are in the most danger of being cruelled by car troubles. With Premat behind the wheel his team reset the Ford’s electrical system to try and sort out horse power issues slowing the four-wheeler down.
Richie Stanaway is first after 60 laps. David Reynolds is second, Jamie Whincup third, Scott Pye fourth and Garry Jacobson is fifth.
Jonathon Webb and Will Davison incurred a 15-second penalty for bumping Shane van Gisbergen and Matt Campbell’s car off the track.
Richie Stanaway is handling the wet better than most but his bold move to overtake Luke Youlden failed and he veered off the track. However, he recovered before pitting on lap 40.
Paul Dumbrell had a unique solution to improving his visibility, taking an old-school approach with a handheld squeegee.
Stanaway regained the lead after 47 laps, followed by Luke Youlden, Alexandre Premat, Garry Jacobson and Richard Muscat.
But Premat’s car didn’t sound too crash hot as he zoomed around Mount Panorama, his team instructing him to reset the dash in an effort to improve the four-wheeler’s performance.
The drivers have given an indication into just how tough life is at the moment in the wet.
“There’s no grip at all,” Garth Tander told Fox Sports. “It is so slippery ... I have never driven it so slow.
David Reynolds added: “It’s extremely difficult, it was changing lap to lap.”
Scott McLaughlin was also stung by what he and his rivals were confronted with.
Also read: Dean Barker linked to New York Cup bid