ENDURANCE CHAMPIONS SUCCESSFULLY DEFEND WPS BATHURST 12 HOUR CROWN

Bana finishes inside the top ten, Denyer's comeback cut short due to mechanical issue

Wollongong driver Damien White has proven that his win in the 2008 WPS Bathurst 12 Hour Showroom Enduro was no fluke by leading a Mitsubishi Evo X trifecta across the line in this year's race held at Mount Panorama today.

White once again piloted his team's #1 SKWIRK.com TMR Australia machine to the chequered flag for car owner Rod Salmon and new for 2009 team-mate and dual Bathurst 1000 winner Tony Longhurst.

"This win is a credit to Alan Heaphy and the Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Australia team," said White.

"Winning the 12 hour race two years in a row is better than my two ute championships and I'm really looking forward to next year."

Following White across the line to take second place this evening was Tony Ricciardello for the West Surfing Products team and his fellow Western Australian team-mates Stuart Kostura and Glyn Crimp, who were both making their debut at Mount Panorama and played important roles in today's action.

"After four 1000km races, this was my first 12 Hour race and it was a great experience. Reliability wasn't an issue all weekend and everything ran like clockwork," said Ricciardello.

"It has been a good bonding experience and it was even better to make the podium. Overall, it was a great team effort and big wraps must got to Glyn and Stuart along with Alan Heaphy and his team at Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Australia."

Both teams were rarely far from the lead in a strong display for the entire duration of the once around the clock encounter, which was interrupted by 11 safety car periods.

The final spot on the podium went to a late charging Jason Bargwanna for his ProDuct Motorsport team-mate Brad Jones with only a fuel issue in his final pit stop robbing him of what could have been a last minute attempt at second place after he fought to regain a lead lap position.

The pair completed 19 pit stops throughout the race due to a fuel issue with their Mitsubishi Lancer, however, using all of their strategic experience to ensure they stayed in contention for the event.

At one stage Bargwanna passed the race leader to return to the lead lap and looked certain to take the challenge to them for the victory, however, a lengthy final pit stop and brake issues late in the race forced them to settle for third.

"We just continued to circulate all day, stayed out of trouble, had 19 pit stops due to a fuel pick up problem, also had some boost and electrical dramas, so all in all it is very busy race but it was pleasing to get up here on the podium at Bathurst," said Bargwanna.

"Bob Pearson put in a huge effort to get this team together for the weekend. This is my first 12 Hour race since 1994 and I thoroughly enjoyed myself."

Today's WPS Bathurst 12 Hour Showroom started just prior to sunrise with Steve Owen leading the way as the 47-car field headed up the Moutain for the first time. When Ricciardello took over the front running as they raced down Conrod straight for the first time fans were left wondering whether they were watching a 12-lap sprint race or a 12 Hour endurance event.

Owen's race came to a premature end when his Supabarn Supermarkets Mitsubishi Lancer endured gearbox problems in the second hour of the race.

This frantic paced continued throughout the morning with plenty of action throughout the field, especially while Klark Quinn was charging through the field after being forced to start from pit lane when he wasn't prepared to climb into his VIP Petfoods Lancer prior to pit lane closing.

The likeable Gold Coaster, who was paired with his father Tony and television star Grant Denyer, simply mistimed his pre-race preparation and therefore forfeited the team's third position on the gird. He did however make up for the error throughout his opening stint to be in third place by the end of hour three.

Unfortunately the team endured mechanical dramas shortly after which dropped them down the order and then Denyer, who was competing in his first race since suffering a serious back injury, had a hairy moment when his car blew a tyre at over 200 km/h on lap 77.

"I really wanted it to be the fairytale return but unfortunately it wasn't meant to be," said Denyer.

"Although our race ended early at least I can say that I'm fully functional and can tick that box with the knowledge that I've completed that stage of my life.

"When the tyre blew it was a scary moment, but at the same time it was fun that I got away with it without any damage or contact with the race leader's car who I was passing to unlap myself at the time."

After recovering from the incident and pitting in order for his team to replace the damaged tyre, Denyer then suffered a gearbox issue which would end his race prematurely just prior to half race distance.

Australian actor Eric Bana, who shared the driving duties with Orange resident Tim Leahey and good friend Peter Hill, finished in tenth spot in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X.

The trio endured some mechanical gremlins during the early running but showed true grit to claw their way back from a low of 35th place to record an impressive top ten result.

Bana rated the weekend's experience of competing at Australia's 'holy grail' of motorsport as a dream come true.

"Just to compete here at Bathurst has been a bit of a dream for me, and then to top it all off we finished inside the top ten outright," said Bana.

"Today was an awesome day, we came into this race a little bit under prepared and the aim of finishing inside the top ten was a longshot so everyone in the team is over the moon.

"Everyone in the team has worked their butts off and were rewarded for their efforts. The car was great on tyres and also brakes."

Bana indicated post race that he is keen to expand his motorsport exploits into the future when time permits.

"I'll always do as much racing as my schedule allows and this year was a bit of test for both myself and the team. After being a part of this year's Event I'd love to come back next year and do it all again," said Bana.

Almost 30,000 spectators came through the gates over the three days of the 2009 WPS Bathurst 12 Hour Showroom Enduro.

2009 WPS Bathurst 12 Hour Showroom Enduro Outright Results --

Top Ten
1 #1 R.Salmon/T.Longhurst/D.White -- Mitsubishi EVO X - 239 laps
2 #55 G.Crimp/T.Ricciardello/S.Kostera - Mitsubishi Evo X
3 #35 J.Bargwana/S.Knight/B.Jones -- Mitsubishi Evo X -- 238 laps
4 #43 D.Wall/D.Wall/T.Symonds -- Mitsubishi Evo IX GSR -- 237 laps
5 #11 B.Morcom/L.Searle/P.Stubber - BMW 335i
6 #3 S.Jones/K.Wade/A.Caratti -- Mitsubishi Evo IX -- 235 laps
7 #23 S.Briffa/M.Zukanovic/T.Sipp - Holden VE R8 Clubsport -- 231 laps
8 #20 G.Holt/P.Morris/R.Shaw -- BMW 335i -- 228 laps
9 #24 G.Walden/B.Walden/M.Auld - Holden Commodore SS
10 #62 T.Leahey/P.Hill/E.Bana -- Mitsubishi Evo X

2009 WPS Bathurst 12 Hour Showroom Enduro Class Winners

Class A -- Penrite High Performance Rear Wheel Drive 11 B. Morcom/L. Searle/P. Stubber -- BMW 335i

Class B -- Armor All High Performance Sports 10 M. O'Connor/R. Buttrose/S. Hogg -- Lotus Exige

Class C -- Carshowroom.com All Wheel Drive 1 R. Salmon/T. Longhurst/D. White -- Mitsubishi Evo X

Class D -- Aunger Hot Hatch Performance 27 A. Shepherd/P. O'Donnell/C. D'Agostin -- BMW 130i

Class E -- Disc Brakes Australia Production Sedans 24 G. Walden/B. Walden/M. Auld -- Holden SS VZ

Class F -- Century Batteries Production Sports 14 P. Conroy/C. Schembri/R. Gartner -- Honda Integra Type S

Class G -- Racer Industries Micro Sedans and Hatches 88 M. Windsor/S. Sheils/P. Newman -- Subaru Impreza 2.5

Glass H -- Supercharge Eco Diesel Over 3.5 Litre 76 K. Booker/R. Rinaldo/D. Stone -- Alfa Romeo 159 JTD

Class I -- DHL Eco Diesel 3.5 Litre and Under 77 D.Filipetto/N. Gotch/W. Vinckx -- Alfa Romeo 147 JTD

-credit: bathurst12hour.com.au