Chaz Mostert and Nathan Morcom have combined to win the inaugural Bathurst 6 Hour Production Car race at Mount Panorama on Sunday.
In a fast-paced race, the pair rebounded from a 10-position grid penalty assessed for a technical infringement in qualifying to win a fast-paced and strategic race that claimed several of the key outright contenders early in another tough day on the Mountain.
Mostert started the race and quickly charged into the top three, electing to make their first of four compulsory pit stops during an early safety car intervention after just eleven laps.
The DPO BMW was then rarely outside of the top four for the remainder of the day, ultimately winning the race by just over two minutes ahead of the Sherrin Rentals BMW 135i.
The Sherrin team had hovered around the lead of the race all day however the final stops saw them return to the field at the tail of the lead lap – only seconds ahead of the leader - and needing a Safety Car to catch up the nearly full lap they’d lost.
Ultimately, the final hour of the race ran without interruption meaning the Mostert and Morcom BMW remained relatively unchallenged at the end of the race.
“In the last stint we were conserving and looking after the car. It had done five hours and it would’ve been a shame for something to go wrong in the last hour and we were just nursing it around,” Mostert said.
“It’s been a great weekend and great to be part of the event. It’s all down to the boys on the car, the way they did the engine change on Friday night was incredible and they’ve worked so hard.
“The trophy and the champagne is down to them.”
Morcom, already a Bathurst race winner in Formula 3 and Formula Ford, said the team effort was what got them over the line for the biggest win in his still-young career.
“We couldn’t ask for anything better - the car has been sitting around since the last time me and Chaz raced it in 2012," said Morcom.
"We’ve been prepping it for the last couple of months with the plan to get both of us in the car and it all goes back to the boys who prepare it.
“Chaz did an awesome job, the car’s still straight, nice and clean and no scratches and it’s good to get the first six hour win under our belt.”
Unlike the outright win, the battle for the final spot on the podium came down to a brutal exchange between Mitsubishi drivers David Wall and Michael Caine in the final 10 minutes of the race.
A tyre failure within the final two hours dropped Wall – and teammate John Bowe – off the lead lap and ultimately dropped them into the fight for third with the Caine and Gerry Murphy Massel-supported Evo X.
With the later-specification car significantly quicker on the straights, the pair ultimately collided at Murray’s corner within the final eight minutes of the race.
Both cars ended in the gravel however both were remarkably able to resume with heavy damage with Wall re-passing a limping Caine soon after their contact.
“Our car is 30km/hr slower in a straight line than the top 10 or 12 cars, so I was just holding my defensive line,” Wall explained.
“When we got down to Murray’s I moved once to the left and he went to the right and I think he basically mis-judged and hit my right rear.
"Luckily she’s four wheel drive, we used the speed limiter to get out of the gravel but the damage was pretty bad.”
Caine – who ultimately limped his damaged car to fourth and second in the A1 class – unsurprisingly had a different view.
“I think he knew that I was a bit quicker,” he said.
“I went around the outside coming into the last turn. The footage will show what the reality is.”
Jim Pollcina and John O’Dowd (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X) finished fifth, ensuring the race finished with two BMWs and three Mitsubishi’s in the top five.
Mount Panorama again claimed plenty of key contenders who looked likely to score a strong result – most notably the Garth Walden and Ben Porter Mercedes Benz A45 AMG that led a bulk of the early running.
Electronic issues claimed that car after completing 48 laps while the Dylan Thomas and Terry Nightingale CXC Global Mitsubishi also had a share of the lead in the opening two hours before a misfire ended their day a lap later.
Adam Proctor and Mark McHenry were cruelly denied a top six finish in their Subaru WRX Sti after they were forced out within the final 20 minutes of the race.
Mark Eddy and Francious Jouy combined to seal Class C in their Renault Megane RS265, finishing an outstanding eighth outright and only six laps behind the winning BMW.
Chris Reeves and Mark Caine won Class D in their Toyota 86 by a full lap, while Dimitrios Agathos and Mark Duckworth drove their Nissan Pulsar to the Class E win, completing 114 laps and finishing 22nd outright.
Lindsay Kearns and Colby Cowham won the invitational class in their Falcon Saloon Car, running as high as eighth at one stage before fading to a still-strong 15th outright at the line, with 116 laps in the books.
Ultimately 33 of the 50 starters were classified as finishers with 125 laps completed by the winning car.