Australia. As the endurance part of the weekend ticked over to the second hour, Maranello Motorsport had already felt the adrenalin of bated breath as Salo brushed the wall on the climb up the mountain, with Peter Edwards taking the hot seat, before handing over to Bathurst master Bowe, but sadly it would be an all-too-soon end to the weekend for the strong Ferrari team.
As the third safety car was called on lap 39 and the pit stops commenced, Edwards was elevated to tenth before Allan Simonsen took control, putting the #88 into the low 2:08 time bracket.
The run over the brow of Mountain Straight had Simonsen pulling away from the pack and into eighth after a pass on the Huff Audi in the lead-up to Skyline.
Soon closing in on the next victims while charging through traffic, it wasn’t long until the Il Bello Rosso entry was right on the bumper of the next challenger, now circulating in the 2:07’s as the race reached lap 50.
The hunt for the leading Mercedes continued as the #14 Audi and Simonsen pushed to regain that lost lap and join the lead lap classifications.
In a bold move, Huff and Simonsen pushed their entries through under the Hackett Mercedes on the run down Conrod Straight before going side by side until the #88 Ferrari took seventh and had the leading Mercedes in sight.
Proven to be strong last year, the Ferraris were looking strong across the top of Mount Panorama, with the exotic entries looking well matched in top speed and performance on the long straights.
Simonsen had a look under the leader through Reid Park, unwilling to take the chance as the pair started the run down the mountain.
Into the pit lane for fuel and now removed from the pressure of the battle, with Simonsen remaining at the wheel in fifth as another safety car session unfolded.
Dropping to eighth, Simonsen brought the ll Bello Rosso racer once again to the pits, suspecting a puncture but was cleared to return to racing, however, the #88 would be back to the lane just one lap later, the crew directing the entry straight into the team garage with right front suspension failure.
On track, it was again under yellow but as the time ticked by and the track returned to green, the Maranello Motorsport crew continued to work tirelessly to fix the eye-catching entry and return to the race.
John Bowe took over the drive, waiting in the cockpit minute after minute as the team made the final adjustments, giving the all clear for Bowe to start the engine on lap 94.
The Il Bello Rosso Ferrari was back out in 35th position, 16 laps down from the leaders, but still racing and Bowe was out to regain those places.
Guiding his way through the traffic, Bowe took the #88 to 28th by lap 120, only to have contact with a slower vehicle across the top of the mountain, sending the Ferrari into a spin, the rear heavily tagging the wall at 180-200km/h and leaving Bowe stranded on the circuit at Skyline, the Maranello Motorsport officially retired from the 2013 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour event.
“The stint had been going really well with gaining back lost positions and the car felt good, but then I followed a medium paced car through over the top of the mountain and a damaged car is what’s resulted so, honestly, it’s tough out there with so many varying standards of driving on a demanding track, and we’ve seen it bite so many times today.
“The car was really good. We chose to double stint the tyres, changed the pressures when I stopped for fuel, ad thought we had a good chance to make some real progress up the field over the second half of the day, but both incidents haven’t been on the car or team and that’s something to walk away positively with.
“It’s (Maranello Motorsport) a great team and I’ve driven with them many times. Mika’s a terrific driver and it’s a strong team unit, it’s just disappointing, and I know motor sport is full of disappointments, I’ve had plenty, but we honestly deserved a better finish.
“The thing about Bathurst is its unforgiving. I first raced here in 1985, and I’ve been racing at this event since it started. There’s been great moments, there’s been disappointing moments. Maranello Motorsport is a group of nice people, they’re friends, and being part of all this is awesome.
“You always leave Bathurst with a tale, it’s truly an emotional rollercoaster. Having had AF Corse in the next garage and our crew working with theirs who’ve come all the way from Italy to be here, it’s a testament to the race becoming a significant endurance event on the world stage.”