It looked as though Craig Lowndes had the race sealed after Shane Van Gisbergern was forced to pit for fuel, but with just 15 minutes remaining, one of the Class B Porsche's crashed on top of the mountain. They restarted with 10 minutes left - Lowndes leading Buhk in the HTP entry, Davison in the Erebus Merc, and Van Gisbergen in fourth. Van Gisbergen was immediately on Davison for third, while Buhk began stalking Lowndes. With four minutes reamaining, Buhk attempted the move that made Craig Lowndes famous on the man himself, but unlike 1994, the hunter was not successful. Lowndes held on and with the help of some traffic, pulled out a decent gap. Lowndes later ran into traffic again, closing the margin. As they entered the final lap, the top two were nose-to-tail as in the Bathurst 1000 for the past three years. Buhk tried everything, but he could not match Lowndes. Craig Lowndes won with John Bowe, Peter Edwards, and Mika Salo for Maranello Racing in a Ferrari 458 - the car Allan Simonsen drove in the previous few years. The HTP Merc of Buhk, Primat, and Jaegar finished second; Davison, Le Brocq, and Crick barely managed to hold off Van Gisbergen's McLaren for the final podium spot. The #4 Porsche won Class B (8th overall). The 54 Lotus Exige won Class C (24th overall). The 22 Seat Leon (16th overall) won Class D. The #96 was the highest finishing of the Fiats (18th overall), and the #70 was the winner among GTC Focuses (15th overall). Once again, Bathurst delievered an amazing race, showing one of the reasons it is my favorite track in the world. Thanks for reading, follow me on Twitter for more. Until the mountain calls again...
(Above photo provided by @BaronVonClutch)
Hour 11 Update:
Once the safety car pulled in, the fight was on for the lead. Salo spent laps behind Greg Crick in the #63 Erebus Mercedes, but could not get by. Maximilian Buhk was able to tag on the pair as a result of the battling, and passed Salo for second at Murray's corner. A lap later, Buhk passed Crick for the lead at the same exact spot. Salo finally managed to pass Crick, only to find himself unable to pass another Mercedes. Buhk kept the lead, while Andrew Kirkardly dropped time to the leaders. The #3 Audi had more electrical problems that fixed themselves, while the #12 Class B Porsche ran out of fuel. Their opponets misfortune has given the #4 Porsche a comfortable lead in the second GT3 class. Shane Van Gisbergen is now in to the end of the 12 hour. HTP had to do a pad change on their final stop; they need a safety to car if they are to win it, now. Salo leads Van Gisbergen, with Davison and Buhk not far behind. It is a fight between V8 Supercars drivers for the victory in a 12 hour GT3 race at Bathurst. Can the Kiwi hunt down the leading Ferrari? Will Lowndsey get a sixth win at the mountain? We are down to the final hour in an already amazing race.
Hour 10 Update:
The Ginetta brought out the safety car. All the leaders took advantage and came in for service. Salo (88), Van Gisbergen (37), Crick (63), and Primat (84) all got onboard their respective cars. Van Gisbergen set out on catching the race leader Salo, knowing he could not go to the end without doing a driver change. The Phoenix Racing Audi spun the #50 Wilson Security Focus at Forrests Elbow, resulting in another safety car. The top two pitted again, Kirkaldy hopping in the McLaren so Van Gisbergen could do the final run to the end. Primat brought in the HTP Mercedes a lap after, handing over to Max Buhk. Crick leads in the injured #63 Erebus Mercedes; Davison will take them to the finish. The top four are on the lead lap; three of them are Australian teams. The top two in Class B are on the same lap, running 8th and 9th overall. Just two hours remain. What does Mount Panorama have in store for us, this time?
Fun bonus photo from the mountain via @BaronVonClutch:
Hour 9 Update:
After a few hours of relative calmness, the race has gone off. The leading #1 Erebus Mercedes SLS suffered from brake issues and had to go into the garage to correct the problem. It is now six laps down with Bernd Schneider steering it before Maro Engel takes over for the end. The McLaren, which has been running second most of the race, may be developing clutch issues; Tony Quinn is lapping ten seconds slower than Van Gisbergen's best. Craig Lowndes was pulling away with the race lead, but he recieved a black flag penalty because Maranello left a pit board over the red line. The team ironically clapped as Lowndes served the drive through and V8 Supercars legend, John Bowe described the penalty as "bullshit." Lowndes continued tp lead with Will Davison catching in the #63 Erebus Merc, despite its dramas; Tony Quinn fell to third. Both the #60 and #70 Ford Focuses have had issues in the last hour, in what had been an impressive debut. The Class B leading #12 Porsche had a tyre puncture, which reduced its two lap lead to one. Lowndes handed over the #88 Ferrari to Mika Salo, allowing Will Davison to become the sixth different leader. The Class C leading Ginetta has pulled of on Conrod Straight.
(Above picture provided by the Bathurst 12 hour's website)
Hour 8 Update:
The defending champions remained in control. Bastian lead Lowndes and Klark Quinn, all within 30 seconds. It is unknown if Tony Quinn will jump in the McLaren. Jack Le Brocq (63 Mercedes) and Thomas Jaegar (84 Mercedes) are both a lap behind the leaders. Patrick Long is now in the Class B leading Porsche, and Karl Reindler leads Class C in a Ginetta. Two of the three factory Fiat Abarth 500s are still running, in 17th and 19th. The leading Mercedes is currently having issues starting up after its latest stop. It's gone a lap down! A disaster for the team that has dominated this race.
Hour 7 Update:
The #1 Erebus Mercedes continues to hold a firm grip on the lead. Mika Salo overtook the McLaren of Andrew Kirkaldy for second. The #63 Erebus Mercedes made contact with the Daytona Coupe, damaging the front end of the SLS AMG. Klark Quinn is now in the McLaren, Bastian remains in the Mercedes, and Lowndes is in the Maranello Ferrari. The #12 Porsche leads Class B, and the #70 Focus is the highest placed of any invitational class car in 14th. The #35 Porsche stopping on track has caused the sixth safety car intervention of the day.
Hour 6 Update:
Following the chaos of hour five, proceedings calmed down as the halfway point approached. Engel gave control of the Erebus Merc back to Nico Bastian after just one stint; Kirkaldy stayed in the McLaren. The Class B leading #45 Porsche went down the road at Hell Corner, rejoining, but losing its lead. Shortly thereafter, it went into the sand at The Chase, resulting in a safety car. Kirkaldy pitted the McLaren immediately. The #1 Erebus Merc holds the lead, even with an off track excursion by Bastian that has damaged the right rear bumper. We are halfway to the checkered flag in the 2014 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 hour.
Hour 5 Update:
While the Class B dominating Rotek Racing Audi had to pull into the garage with an engine issue, Shane Van Gisbergen started another enthralling battle for the lead with Bernd Schneider. This time, Van Gisbergen made one of the bravest pass attempts in the history of Mount Panorama, throwing his McLaren down the outside in the esses, running towards the dipper. Schneider, breathtakingly, held on, but relinquished first to the Kiwi at Griffins Bend the following lap. Van Gisbergen's race almost came to a sudden halt when he tried to lap Mika Salo, who had just pitted and was on cold tyres. The McLaren was squeezed to the far inside of McPhillamy Park, making contact with the Maranello Ferrari, but the Kiwi held on to it. It became a race between the pit crews, Erebus swapping Scheider for Engel, and Van Gisbergen handing over to Kirkaldy. The Mercedes emerged in the lead, with the McLaren still not far behind. While stops were happening, the #50 Focus stuffed it at the cutting, but resumed. I need to breath...
(Above image provided by @LanzaroteCamel on Twitter)
Hour 4 Update:
Shane Van Gisbergen quickly overtook the Phoenix Audi for second once the safety car pulled in. He then engaged Bern Schneider in a battle for the lead, that saw the Kiwi weaving back and fourth, looking for a way through on the experienced German. With the help of the Erebus Mercedes' straight line speed, Schenider kept first place, but the popular V8 Supercars driver would not give up. Their battle resulted in a casualty, when the M Motorsport Lamborghini, driven by Ross Lilley, went off line to let the leaders by, sending him into the wall at McPhillamy. The safety car came out and the leaders came in for stops. Phoenix suffered from a tyre puncture, and one of the gullwing doors opened on the HTP Merecedes SLS while on Mountain Straight. Van Gisbergen who fell to 5th after pitting, quickly, and bravely charged his way back to second place. Lux, for United Autosports is third. Davison, for Erebus, is fourth.
Hour 3 Update:
Many teams took the second round of stops to do their first driver change. Bernd Schneider took over from Nico Bastian in the leading Mercedes SLS, while Will Davison took over the other Erebus entry. Dale Wood took over from Steven Richards, who had a mega battle for fourth with the Phoenix Racing Audi, which would be taken over by Rene Rast. The Clearwater Racing Ferrari hit the wall on approach to McPhillamy Park, moments after spinning at The Chase. The contact ripped the right rear wheel off the car, dumping fluid over the racing line. Many cars went off in the sand trap, avoiding the 458, but the Nissan GT-R, now steered by Katsumasa Chiyo smashed into the side of the motionless chrome Ferrari. Thankfully, both Chiyo and Hamaguachi (the pilot of the Clearwater entry at the time) stepped out of their respective cars under their own power. The massive incident brought out the third safety car of the day. Schneider leads from Rast, and the Class B Rotek Racing Audi R8 is in third. The top eight cars are on the lead lap.
(Above image provided by @samios4 on Twitter)
Hour 2 Update:
While its sister car dropped a lap repairing its splitter, the #1 Erebus Mercedes maintained its lead after the first round of stops. The second safety car came when the Motionsport Lotus bogged down in the sand trap at The Chase. Thomas Jaeger's aggressive driving in the first hour caught up with him, when smoke started coming from the right front as the field was about to back to green. Jaeger brought his HTP Motorsport SLS into the lane to fix damage caused by contact with Rick Kelly; they rejoined three laps down, with Harold Primat taking over driving duties. The second hour ended with Nico Bastian holding the lead for Erebus, the VIP Holdings McLaren in second, and a battle for third between Kelly's GT-R, Richards in the #48 Gallardo, and Laurens Vanthoor in the Phoenix Audi R8. Marcus Winkelhock lowered the lap record to 2:04.59.
(Photo provided by Speedcafe)
Hour 1 Update:
Just laps after the green flag, the first safety car appeared due to unusual circumstances. Well, unusual for everything except Bathurst. The #63 Erebus Motorsport Merecedes SLS made contact with a kangaroo, damaging its splitter. The kangaroo then flew into the path of the #23 Reiter Lamborghini, resulting in heavy damage. The day ended just 10 minutes in for the #23 Gallardo, more bad luck for Peter Kox and David Russell at Mount Panorama. Kox was already suffering from a roll of tape flying into the pedal box after it was left in the car by a camera man. Unlike its sister entry, the #1 Erebus SLS had a flawless start from pole, leading the entire first hour. The lap record was lowered quickly, eventually to 2:04 .8075 by Craig Lowndes in the Maranello Ferrari. The HTP Motorsport Mercedes, started by Thomas Jaegar, charged through the field, making light contact with the Nissan GT-R and suscessfully pulling off a risky move at the final corner for third.
(Follow @RennsportStaff on Twitter for more updates)