Mark Winterbottom and Ford Performance have finally broken through to claim their first Bathurst 1000 victory, with the factory Falcon driver resisting a stern final-lap challenge from reigning champion Jamie Whincup.
The victory was the perfect reward for Ford’s decision to extend its backing of the team into the 2014 season, with Winterbottom sealing the deal after withstanding a brave outside passing attempt from Whincup at Turn 2 on the last tour of a gripping 161-lap race.
While the win was the first – and long overdue – for ‘Frosty’, it was the third time his co-driver Steven Richards had tasted the victory champagne at Mt Panorama, with his past successes coming in 1998 and 1999.
The final hour of the race featured a brilliant five-way tussle for the lead, headed by the duelling Winterbottom and Whincup, who were being chased hard by Jason Bright, Garth Tander and Craig Lowndes.
Tander and Lowndes were enjoying the benefit of much fresher tyres, with Tander in particular reeling off a succession of fastest laps to make it a five-way scrap for victory.
Ultimately, he and Lowndes were delayed long enough by Bright, who gave an excellent demonstration of defensive driving as the trio swapped places in the closing laps, before finally the former champion’s tyres gave out to allow Lowndes and Tander to nip through.
The Whincup/Winterbottom battle for the lead had been a focus of almost the entire race. With Whincup’s co-driver Paul Dumbrell starting the race, the Red Bull Racing Australia Holden dominated much of the early going through the first three pit stop sequences.
The race had its first safety car intervention when David Russell came to grief in Todd Kelly’s Nissan after hitting a stray kangaroo that had leapt onto the circuit. The Nissan’s fate was as terminal as the poor marsupial, with the Jack Daniel’s sponsored car forced into retirement.
The race’s second and final safety car interruption on Lap 87 – triggered by James Courtney’s co-driver, Greg Murphy, crashing heavily at Griffin’s Bend – opened up the teams’ strategic options.
Dumbrell was called into the pit lane, while conversely most of the other frontrunners opted to remain on track, which put the #1 Holden well down in traffic. A number of off-track moments in his final stint didn’t help Dumbrell’s cause, and the lost time ensured that Whincup would emerge behind Winterbottom when the two lead drivers cycled back into their final stints in their respective cars.
Behind the top-five, Scott Pye and co-driver Paul Morris claimed a brilliant sixth place for the tiny Lucas Dumbrell Holden team, which had struggled with a shortage of spare parts heading into the weekend. The result was a major boost for the team and Pye, who have suffered with a succession of accidents since a strong showing at the season-opening Clipsal 500 in Adelaide.
The wildcard pairing of Andy Priaulx and Mattias Ekstrom claimed an outstanding tenth place, even briefly leading mid-race.
With 26 of the 29 entries seeing the chequered flag, it was a race of surprisingly low attrition in the Car of the Future’s debut Bathurst 1000. Dean Fiore and Matt Halliday were the only mechanically-induced retirees, with the pair forced to retire their LDM Holden with a gearbox failure.
2013 V8 Supercars Bathurst 1000 – Final Classification (161 laps):
|Driver||Entry / Team||Result|
|1.||Mark Winterbottom / Steve Richards||Ford Performance Racing||6:11:27.932|
|2.||Jamie Whincup / Paul Dumbrell||Triple 8 Engineering||+ 0.474|
|3.||Craig Lowndes / Warren Luff||Triple 8 Engineering||+ 6.236|
|4.||Garth Tander / Nick Percat||Walkinshaw Performance||+ 7.095|
|5.||Jason Bright / Andrew Jones||Brad Jones Racing||+ 14.134|
|6.||Scott Pye / Paul Morris||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||+ 20.254|
|7.||Will Davison / Steve Owen||Ford Performance Racing||+ 29.265|
|8.||Scott McLaughlin / Jack Perkins||Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 43.341|
|9.||David Reynolds / Dean Canto||Ford Performance Racing||+ 46.066|
|10.||Mattias Ekstrom / Andry Priaulx||Triple 8 Engineering||+ 48.277|
|11.||Shane van Gisbergen / Jeroen Bleekemolen||Tekno Autosports||+ 50.474|
|12.||Jonathon Webb / Marc Lieb||Tekno Autosports||+ 50.845|
|13.||Alex Davison / John McIntyre||Ford Performance Racing||+ 51.193|
|14.||Lee Holdsworth / Craig Baird||Erebus Motorsport||+ 54.181|
|15.||Tim Blanchard / Ashley Walsh||Dick Johnson Racing||+ 1:12.734|
|16.||Fabian Coulthard / Luke Youlden||Brad Jones Racing||+ 1:14.123|
|17.||Russell Ingall / Ryan Briscoe||Walkinshaw Performance||+ 1:35.380|
|18.||James Moffat / Taz Douglas||Nissan Motorsport||+ 1:41.734|
|19.||Rick Kelly / Karl Reindler||Nissan Motorsport||+ 1:43.662|
|20.||Maro Engel / Steven Johnson||Erebus Motorsport||+ 1 lap|
|21.||Chaz Mostert / Dale Wood||Dick Johnson Racing||+ 5 laps|
|22.||David Wall / Chris Pither||Brad Jones Racing||+ 5 laps|
|23.||Alexandre Prémat / Greg Ritter||Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 7 laps|
|24.||Tony D’Alberto / Jonny Reid||Tony D’Alberto Racing||+ 11 laps|
|25.||Michael Caruso / Daniel Gaunt||Nissan Motorsport||+ 13 laps|
|26.||Tim Slade / Andrew Thompson||Erebus Motorsport||+ 23 laps|
|Not Classified||Entry / Team||Result|
|DNF.||Dean Fiore / Matt Halliday||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||Gearbox|
|DNF.||James Courtney / Greg Murphy||Walkinshaw Performance||Accident|
|DNF.||Todd Kelly / David Russell||Nissan Motorsport||Accident|