Erebus drivers David Reynolds and Luke Youlden produced an underdog win in a Bathurst 1000 for the ages, defying the odds to win one of the longest races in Supercars history.
After a majority trouble-free opening half to the race, a myriad of incidents saw the pace slow down and the action heat up towards the end, condensing the pack for a tense finish.
With rain starting to come down minutes before race start, the 1000km classic begun with all drivers running the wet compound Dunlop tyres, a safety measure to let them at least complete the opening laps.
While it was pole-sitter Scott McLaughlin who led the opening lap, a mistake at the final corner coming around to the start of the second lap saw the race favourite lose a handful of positions, giving the lead to Reynolds.
The Erebus car was passed early on by a hard-charging Chaz Mostert, the winner of the 2014 race and wet weather master, who quickly gapped the field to put the Prodrive Falcon in prime position.
Despite the treacherous weather, no major incidents occurred and the race remained safety car free until lap 76 when the yellow flags were brought out around the circuit to recover the #17 Ford of McLaughlin and Alex Premat.
The pole-sitting and lap record breaking car had developed an issue throughout the race, sounding rough as it drove down the straights and eventually dying a silent death when Premat approached the Cutting.
A greasy and wet track was the toughest contender for the field but most stayed on the black stuff, the next two safety cars coming out for a kangaroo on track and a rock at the apex of Skyline.
These safety car periods led to jumbled strategies throughout the pit lane as almost any driver who could have the right amount of fuel on-board at the right time would likely win.
It seemed the potent pairing of Cam Waters and Richie Stanaway were in the box seat, both showing good pace and having a good strategy, outracing contenders on the track as well as in the pits.
The next safety car came out when an ambitious Rick Kelly went off at the Chase, burying the Altima in the gravel trap.
As some of the faster cars came in to pit, some stayed out for track position and, as the restart occured, Shane Van Gisbergen ran off the road coming to the control line, as did Garth Tander.
Tander caused further troubles when he and Mostert came together at turn one, giving damage to both cars as well as Waters who tried to avoid the spinning GRM car but failed.
The woes for GRM became worse when James Moffat spun out of third place at McPhillamy Park, lucky to tag the wall but rejoin the race, then slide into the wall at Sulman Park, ending the #34’s race and bringing out another safety car.
Quite a few drivers pitted to try and make it home, everyone picking different options out of stopping and getting home safe or keeping track position and risking it.
In the final stints of the race, Reynolds pulled away out in front, giving himself enough space just in case any drama occurred behind him or he needed to start saving fuel.
The plan nearly fell apart in the final ten laps when Simona De Silvestro spun coming on to the front straight, hitting the inside barrier with the car coming to rest on the pit straight, leaving the officials to deploy the safety car.
The final sprint to the flag saw Reynolds put in his fastest laps of the race, reaching the finish line ahead of Scott Pye who was fending off now championship leader Fabian Coulthard.
Dale Wood in the second Erebus car came fourth in a dream day for the team while Van Gisbergen eventually managed to finish fifth. Michael Caruso, Todd Kelly, Jason Bright, Tim Slade, Chaz Mostert and their respective co-drivers completed the top ten.
Jamie Whincup looked to capitalise on his championship rival’s misfortunes until his car suffered a similar fate late in the race, eventually rejoining to collect points.
Fabian Coulthard now holds the championship lead ahead of Whincup and McLaughlin with Mostert and Van Gisbergen still within a round of the DJR Team Penske driver.
Image via Keith McInnes
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