As the start of the 2019 Bathurst 1000 nears, we take the chance to look back at the highs and lows of the past decade at Mount Panorama.
The master and the apprentice (2011)
The 2011 Bathurst 1000 will be remembered as the year of the master and his apprentice.
Nick Percat wasn’t even a main-game driver when he was selected to suit-up beside Garth Tander. Signed as a Walkinshaw driver back in 2007, Percat progressed through Formula Ford to Super2 under the guidance of the hero Holden squad. He’d never raced in the Bathurst 1000.
Tander qualified fastest for the Shootout, but rain fell with the final three drivers yet to complete their laps, meaning Greg Murphy claimed an unlikely pole, with Tander/Percat to start ninth. Throughout the day the pairing drove their HRT Commodore to the front, with Percat impressing with his pace and level-headed driving.
In the end, Craig Lowndes harassed the back of Tander in the final stages, but the master (Tander) crossed the line 0.3 seconds ahead of the Vodafone Commodore. The unlikely duo claimed the win, with Percat crowned Bathurst champion in his first attempt.
The race was marred by a serious crash at Griffins Bend where David Besnard’s DJR Falcon went into the tyre barrier backwards, creating a spectacular fire ball. He walked away from the crash, but Steven Johnson’s Jim Beam Falcon was destroyed.
Last-lap battle (2013)
Ford versus Holden – Mark Winterbottom versus Jamie Whincup. Media beat up or not, there’s no denying the rivalry between these two ignited at the Mountain on that second Sunday in October 2013. And it all came down to Griffins Bend on the last of 161 laps. It’s a true Blue and Red nail biter that put punters on the edge of their seats. After a full day of racing, only one side could win.
Whincup got a better exit out of Hell Corner, gaining a slipstream from Frosty up Mountain Straight. The FPR driver covered the inside line, braking late into Griffins Bend and edging the Triple Eight VF wide. Whincup struggles for grip, sliding up onto the outside kerb. The poor corner exit would prove his undoing.
Winterbottom held his nerve across the top and down Mount Panorama before claiming his first and only 1000 win to date.
From last to first (2014)
Chaz Mostert and Paul Morris didn’t lead a single full lap of the race after starting last on the grid – that’s the craziest fact of the 2014 Bathurst 1000. Proof that to finish first, first you must finish.
Add in the drama of the track breaking up, the ‘half-time break’ that would make it the longest race in history and Jamie Whincup refusing to listen to his team’s pleas to conserve fuel, and you can see why this Great Race is rated as one of the best in history.
On lap 61, the race was red flagged to repair tarmac at turn two that was breaking up. Most of the field was held on the start/finish straight. But not the number 6 Pepsi Max Falcon – it pulled into pit lane, allowing the FPR crew to work on the damaged car Morris had put it in the wall earlier in the day.
From then on, once the race resumed, the aim of the game was to pit as often as possible for fuel without going a lap down.
Eventually, Mostert’s pace and FPR’s strategy saw the outfit rise to second position for the final stages of the race.
Whincup, who with co-driver Paul Dumbrell, had started the day second last, was now leading. However, his lack of fuel soon became apparent, with Triple Eight demanding he save as much of it as possible.
Eventually, only after being told he only had a lap of fuel left with one-and-a-half laps to go, did Whincup reply, “copy”. But by then it was too late. Mostert closed in, Whincup’s Commodore coughed and the youngster bumped the champ aside at Forrest’s Elbow, charging down Conrod Straight to unlikely win.
Whincup chugged over the line, slipping to fifth. Nissan made the podium for the first time in its return to Supercars, while the FPR triumph (going back-to-back from ’13) is also the Blue Oval’s last win at Bathurst to date. The 2014 Bathurst 1000 remains the longest race in history at 7:58.53 seconds.
‘The Readdress’ (2016)
On lap 150, the race took a very controversial turn. Then Volvo driver (GRM) Scott McLaughlin is leading the race with an ever-present Jamie Whincup behind him with Garth Tander in third. McLaughlin is in fuel-conservation mode when Whincup dives down the inside into The Chase. The two touch, sending the S60 off into the grass. McLaughlin proceeds to keep his right boot stuck in while Whincup backs up Tander in an effort to readdress the failed overtake. A bottleneck follows.
McLaughlin fires back onto the track exiting The Chase. Tander, with nowhere to go, pulls out to overtake the slowing Whincup, but it’s straight into the path of the Volvo. All three collide, leaving both Tander and McLaughlin with massive damage. The Triple Eight Commodore continues on, crossing the line first at the chequered flag, but Whincup/Dumbrell fail to claim the title as car 1 is issued a time penalty. Will Davison, and co-driver/team owner Jonathan Webb, cross the line second, but claim the win.
McLaughlin’s record-breaking lap (2017)
There’s Murphy’s Lap of the Gods, and then there’s McLaughlin’s record-breaking Top 10 Shootout lap. While a 2:06.859 second lap was epic in 2003, the 2:03.831 set in 2017 received just as much praise – and rightly so. In many ways, it was McLaughlin emulating his child-hood hero.
The side story is the fact that McLaughlin had to go all-out. David Reynolds, in his Erebus Commodore, had already blitzed the time sheets with a low 2:04sec lap, meaning it was going to take a monumental effort to usurp him. And that’s exactly what happened. Even dropping two wheels off the black stuff across Skyline wasn’t going to hamper the young Kiwi star.
Of course, the race turned out to be a disaster for the rapid Shell V-Power Falcon, succumbing to a mechanical failure. However, it was to be Erebus’s coming of age, with Reynolds (and his co-driver Luke Youlden) keeping a level head in mixed conditions to claim the 2017 crown.
Lowndes' fitting main-game win (2018)
Announcement made, the 2018 Bathurst 1000 was a fitting end to Craig Lowndes’ career as a full-time driver. The result is further evidence that you can’t count out Lowndes at Bathurst. Teaming up with good mate Steven Richards, Lowndes’ Bathurst tally now sits at seven (five for Richards), just two wins shy of his mentor, Peter Brock.
Although the reality is it should have been Erebus’ day, with car 9 leading for 112 laps of the race before Lowndes tracked down an ailing Reynolds – both of whom were triple-stinting. Whincup and Dumbrell fought their way back to tenth position after going a lap down due to a bizarre wheel-nut issue. It was also Scott McLaughlin’s first Bathurst podium, with the 2018 series champion and co-driver Alexander Premat sneaking onto the third step of the podium behind Scott Pye and Warren Luff.
Of course, there are other big moments of the past decade like Fabian Coulthard’s car-destroying crash in the chase, David Reynolds succumbing to physical exertion and Mark Skaife’s last win in 2010. We’re sure 2019 will add to the highlights package. What is your favourite Bathurst 1000 moment of the past decade?