Bathurst has been run and won for another year. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t working so I was able to watch it in full at home. I watched and photographed the race (that’s not me in the pic, that pic is from 2005’s Rally Australia where I saw a photographer in a camo hat but a hi-vis vest) live in 2005 but apart from the live atmosphere, TV is the best place to see all the action.
As V8 fans would be aware, Channel 7 was doing the coverage this year and I must say that the coverage was very good. Neil Crompton’s got a job for life if he wants it – he was seemingly having a lot of fun explaining various car bits and pieces using computer graphics. So if you don’t know your Watts linkage from your McPherson struts, Cromley’s your man to explain it.
Now I’ve got the songs from the two Holden ads (that played ALLLLL day!) in my head and can’t get rid of it. I’m not going to go out and get a Holden just because of the ads though – I am still very happy with my Subaru Forester. However, one of the Ute ads that appeared was magic…..the images transformed the Holden ute from the past into the Holden ute of today. Magic stuff.
As I said in Erk Pod episode 42: “Who will win? Red team (Holden Racing Team)? Blue Team (Ford Performance Racing)? Orange Team (HSV Dealer Team)? Blue Team that looks like a Red Team (Vodafone, Craig Lowndes)?”
The front row of the grid was Mark Winterbottom/Steven Richards (FPR) followed by Mark Skaife/Todd Kelly (HRT). The racing was close for a lot of the day. There were several safety cars starting with one on lap 2. On the warm up lap, you’d have to feel sorry for Cameron Mc Conville whose engine expired so he didn’t even get to start. For some reason, his car couldn’t be moved and race control judged that it was OK for the race to start and then there was one pass of the car in anger and then it was time for the first of several safety car appearances.
There were several incidents and one by one, the front runners disappeared. The first notable was “Team Orange” in the form of Rick Kelly/Garth Tander. After several playtimes in the sand at the end of Conrod, Team Orange decided that it was better to garage the car rather than turn the car into an orange ball.
Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup had a couple of close calls with cars coming out back on line after being off the track. Jamie decided to do some rallying of his own on the way into the pits but ultimately things worked out for him. Frosty had a moment of his own off the track which was the second near miss with Lowndes and it was quite lucky that Frosty didn’t end up on his roof. After this, team Blue was down the order despite running well all day.
Team Red also had an off late in the race and Skaifey ended up with another DNF at Bathurst but unlike last year, he did run well until his incident which was the same time that Russell Ingall went off as well along with Jason Bright who was leading the race for a while after coming from nowhere.
As I said in Erk Pod 42, Greg Murphy (Tasman) grows an extra leg at Bathurst despite being down the order in the championship for the last couple of years. He and his fellow Kiwi Jason Richards kept the car out of other people’s dramas and kept running where other cars were in their garages. Despite some excellent driving towards the end of the race in greasy conditions, Murph was the first Holden driver home coming home in fourth position.
The last few laps (the last hour or so) was the best part of the race with rain, safety cars and incidents all playing a part. It was a tight battle for the last few laps with Murph, Steven Johnson & Will Davison (Jim Beam/DJR) coming in third, James Courtney/David Besnard (Jeld-wen, SBR) second while the top step of the podium once again going to Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup (Team Vodafone, Triple 8) in their red car representing the blue side of the fence.
While all three of the podiumsters weren’t always in the top three all day, at Bathurst you have to be up there at lap 161, not lap 1 or lap 50.