This year’s Bathurst 1000 offered up another nailbiting finish, as crowd-favourite, and the most successful V8 Supercars driver of all time, Craig Lowndes held off the fast-charging Ford of Mark Winterbottom to clinch his sixth victory in ‘The Great Race’.
Today we’re not traveling back as far as we normally do; in fact we’re turning the clock back by just over 365 days to recall the amazing finish to the 2014 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
The background to this titanic battle between the dominant force in V8 Supercars this decade, Jamie Whincup, and rising star Chaz Mostert, is not a simple case of a race-long battle to close down the dominant leader.
Six-time champion Whincup began the race 23rd of the 25 starters. At first it seems extraordinary he and co-driver Paul Dumbrell managed to finish second from such a position, before you realise Mostert and Morris had been thrown out of qualifying and started dead-last. If it seemed bad enough for Mostert at the start, his luck went even further south when his co-driver, before half distance, left their Falcon buried in the tyre barriers at Griffins bend. Even though that wasn’t Morris’s fault (the race was later halted for over an hour to repair disintegrating track on the entry to the tricky right-hander), it left the pair in an apparently desperate position.
It was then Whincup’s turn to fall foul of circumstances, this time of his own making. Emerging from the pits later on in the race Whincup clashed with another car on the long Conrod Straight, forcing the 888 team to pit for repairs and landing the No.1 car with a drive-through penalty for causing a collision. A whole seperate article could be written on the pair’s battle back to the head of the field from a lap down, but we don’t have time today.
On to the video in question – Whincup leads by three seconds with just a couple of laps left. His Red Bull Racing squad have elected to attempt to make 28 laps to the end of the race without a splash-and-dash — the car’s fuel range being calculated at around 23 laps max.
A three second lead with a couple of laps left may not seem a good set up for some ‘racing on the edge’, but what we haven’t mentioned is that the red mist appears to have descended on the reigning champion. Desperate calls from the pit crew plead for Whincup to back off and save fuel to make it to the end, but he appears not to listen and ploughs on at top speed.
All the time the youngster in the Ford behind is on the ragged edge trying to close the gap. And we have all the ingredients for a classic finish: one of the world’s greatest race tracks, a champion trying to cling on, a youngster with something to prove, and the eternal Australian Ford v Holden grudge match. Can Whincup hear his team? Does he know something they don’t? Watch on to find out…