Heck of a weekend, wasn’t it? A weekend’s worth of crashes, broken limbs, Aussie Racing Cars destroyed beyond all recognition and wet weather chaos culminated in 161 laps of thrilling racing in the 2015 Bathurst 1000.
It was Red Bull Racing and Holden who emerged triumphant this year, with Craig Lowndes storming through the field from a 15th place start to claim his 6th Bathurst 1000 Victory. His teammate Steven Richards also helped in securing his 4th title as King of the Mountain, the pair of them producing triumphant drives in the first stages of the race to carve through the field.
The Bottle-O racing Ford of David Reynolds and Dean Canto, who qualified on pole Position in treacherous conditions the day before, led for a large chunk of the race, and it took the forces of nature to spark any significant change in proceedings. As rain lashed the track during the mid point of the race, Jamie Whincup took the chance switch to wet tyres early on, producing a masterful display in the slippery conditions to storm (no pun intended) ahead to a 35 second lead.
However, as the track slowly dried out once more, Prodrive’s Mark Winterbottom and Reynolds both took the early opportunity to switch to slick tyres. Whincup’s commanding lead, which was already made vulnerable by a fuel sensor issue, began to quickly vanish and by the time the #1 Red Bull had not only fixed the issue, switched its tyres and rejoined the track (now under the control of Paul Dumbrell), Reynolds had taken the lead. Craig Lowndes, following an incredible mornings’ racing to get where he was already, was waiting to strike his team mate and Whincup soon found himself overtaken once more.
Reynolds, now back in the lead, suffered yet another misfortune as Scott Pye crashed heavily, forcing the safety car. With the four race leaders taking advantage of this opportunity to pit, fuel strategy became the deciding factor in the race. Both Reynolds and Winterbottom were forced to take on more fuel than either of the Red Bull Holdens, in turn gifting the lead to Lowndes. For a brief amount of time, a Red Bull 1-2 looked certain until Whincup made what would prove to be his most decisive mark on the race.
Defying team orders, Whincup, who would have otherwise been forced to stack up behind Lowndes in the pit lane as they both made their stops, inadvertently overtook the safety car after electing to stay out for another lap. A drive through penalty followed which wasn’t issued until the race restarted. This gave Whincup the chance to back up the pack for Lowndes before peeling off to serve his penalty. By the time Whincup pulled into the pits at the end of his in-lap, Lowndes was 3 seconds clear of the field and pulling away even further.
With the winner all but set, the fight for the podium spots began. Squabbling between Fabian Coulthard and David Reynolds ensued, and after they both ran wide following an ambitious move under braking from Coulthard, Mark Winterbottom took full advantage to guide his Ford into 2nd. Here he remained until the end of the race. Coulthard and Reynolds both soon found themselves chased down by Scott Mclaughlin and Garth Tander, but Tander’s experience on the mountain proved the decisive factor. A spectacular piece of driving from Tander undercut them all, and he guided his Holden home to claim the final podium spot for HRT. Lowndes’ victory proved to be not only historic, but also an immensely popular one with the Bathurst faithful.
2015 Bathurst 1000 Most Memorable Moments
Mostert has his Season Ended during Friday Practice
In what proved to be possibly the most worrying moment of the weekend, 2014 race winner Chaz Mostert found himself out for the rest of the season with a broken leg and wrist after this shocking crash.
An Aussie Racing Car is Racing no more.
Despite the carnage that made up a good chunk of the weekend, no crash was quite as shocking as this one from the Aussie Racing Cars warm up series, which put Damien Flack in hospital with Broken Ribs. It’s hard to argue that he isn’t lucky that his injuries aren’t worse.
Scott Pye brings out the Safety Car
It was Scott Pye’s crash that led to the race-changing safety car on Sunday, and the third heavy accident of the weekend. Hopefully his hospital bed next to Mostert and Flack was comfortable.