THE 2008 and 2009 Mitsubishi winning team was fighting for the lead in the Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour after three hours at Mount Panorama today.
Rod Salmon took over the Pedigree Lancer Evo 10 from Damien White - who had completed a double stint at the wheel from the 6.30 start but came under pressure immediately from a hard-pushing Paul Morris in the 2007-winning Eastern Creek Karts BMW.
The gap was less than two seconds and closing as Salmon completed the 61st lap. Trevor Symonds was in third place in the Easts Holiday Parks Lancer he took over from David Wall.
Actor Eric Bana started his first stint in the Globe/Westrac Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, driven from the start by Tim Leahey, of Orange, and prepared to defend eighth position.
V8 Supercar endurance driver Nathan Pretty handed over the big but rapid Holden Commodore Sportwagon R8 Clubsport to Andrew Jones in ninth position.
"I just did a double stint. Hope I can have a rest now and get a bit of sleep," Pretty said.
"Unfortunately we got a drive-through (penalty) for a suspected jumped start. In my heart I know I didn't do it, but what can you do?"
A total of 42 cars (correct) started at 6.30 am and face a journey of up to around 1500 kilometres. The Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour, in its fourth year as the ultimate test of showroom-standard production cars, is Australia's longest motor race.
TOP FIVE (9.30 am)
1 Car 1# Rod Salmon, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10, 61 laps, lead 1.99 seconds
2 20# Paul Morris, BMW 335i, 61 laps
3 38# Trevor Symonds, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, 61 laps
4 33# Steve Glenney, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10, 61 laps
5 44# Dean Herridge, Subaru Impreza STi, 61 laps
-source: bathurst 12h