Known across the length and breadth of Australia as the thinking man’s endurance race, the Bathurst 12 Hour is gaining more and more attention worldwide for its cosmopolitan spirit and its pursuit of quality. A chance for the Aussie public to absorb some of the best motorsports has to offer, renowned machines and celebrated drivers are shipped in from the States, Europe and Japan each February. While all of that makes the race unique, there will always be room in our hearts for crashes.
With the 2020 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour just around the corner, join us as we look back at some of the most unfortunate and unforgettable crashes that have happened on the mountain over the last 15 years.
7. Jason Bright – Audi – 2014
First comes a cracker from Jason Bright in qualifying at Reid Park. Infamous for its association with the Bathurst 1000, Reid Park can be a tricky piece of track. Jason is anything but Bright as he overdoes it on the approach, but what marks this one out is how well the rest of the pack do to avoid the sitting duck. No further crashes here as I count 12 completely bypassing poor Jason, with the exception of a cumbersome Porschejust clipping the Audi. That ain’t bad, lads. A lesson to us all, and to the next guy.
6. Felix Baumgartner & Ivo Breukers – Mazda – 2015
After a bit of confusion from his team (and concerned commentators), it turns out Felix Baumgartner was in no mood for giving an inch at last year’s 12 Hour. As victim Breukers breezes through a usually-innocuous part of the circuit, Austrian risk-taker Baumgartner decides to prove his psycho credentials once and for all. By bidding to fit two vehicles into an impossible space at high speed, Baumgartner eliminates his competition in the most underhanded way possible. Top idiocy from the Austrian, but Ivo walks away from his Mazda3 on two legs, so it’s classic guilt-free crashing.
5. Charles Ng – BMW – 2013
Surely the first of Bathurst’s many crashes to be described as “awkward”, this one takes place at the top of the Mountain back in 2013. As you might have guessed, this is one of Mount Panorama’s more boring muck-ups. However, it’s hardly a snooze-fest, and potential bad guys should take note. What it is is a 101 in brutally taking your immediate competition out while getting off scot-free. The ensuing Ferrari 458 barely strokes the rear of Ng’s BMW Z4, meaning almost no Ferrari ground is lost, while Charles Ng arrows helplessly into the barriers. He might share his name with a serial killer, but poor Charlie was the victim here.
4. Steve Wyatt – Ferrari – 2014 Qualifying
Here, Steve Wyatt glides into the barrier and crashes out of Bathurst 12 Hour qualifying with a poor piece of handling at The Cutting. The Cutting is notorious for its narrow path and steep gradient, meaning any minor mistake is going to signal the end of any driver’s fun. Luckily for us, the end of Wyatt’s fun is the beginning of ours. As his wounded Ferrari 458 sidles from the barrier, the driver’s door sails open at the blink of an eye, which pretty much says “that’s plenty, Steve, you’ve abused me enough for one day.” Comedic timing from the door, who’s clearly having none of it.
3. Len “the oldest bastard in the world” Cave – Mazda – 2008
Manically described in commentary as “monumental”, this one isn’t so funny – it’s actually a bit scary. At The Chase, veteran Len Cave loses the wheels and engine to his Mazda as his machine goes to war with the turf at 250km/h. Len loses the rear before suffering a series of pretty ugly rolls, that has every viewer with heart in mouth. Meanwhile down in the pits, Mazda teammate and all-round good bloke Allan Shephard cites a woman attacking him with a squash racket earlier in the week. I’m not sure how relevant that is to this nine-roller, but it’s a welcome bit of comic relief in a moment of distress. Len didn’t cave though – not to the racket, and not to the roll – and fought another day. Hero.
2. Ash Walsh & John Martin Late Race 2018 Collision
With 20-minutes remaining in the 2018 Bathurst 12-hour Bryce Fullwood’s No.93 MARC Focus and Ash Walsh’s No.69 Audi R8 collided at the top of the track at Sulman Park. With Ash Walsh’s Audi R8 stranded across the track and no yellow flag insight, John Martin’s No.19 Mercedes AMG GTR collided with the hapless Audi at almost 200km/h.
Fortunately, all three drivers walked away from the accident before being taken to the hospital for precautionary checks. The timing and severity of the accident meant that the No.37 Team WRT Audi of Robin Frijns, Stuart Leonard and Dries Vanthoor was declared the winner with 20-minutes remaining after the race was red-flagged.
1. Shane van Gisbergen Late Race Crash 2017
After more than 11-hours of intense racing, Shane van Gisbergen’s frustration well and truly got the better of him. Van Gisbergen bumped Andrew McPherson’s lapped Porsche on the Caltex Chase exit, sending it nose first into the concrete wall and forcing a Safety Car.
Van Gisbergen’s aggression didn’t go unpunished- a pit lane drive through penalty was issued. Alas, he wouldn’t make it that far. Carrying too much speed into the Sparesbox Dipper, Van Gisbergen buried his Mercedes into the wall and put an end to proceedings for the Mercedes-AMG team with just 19min25sec left in the day.
Image Courtesy of Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour