Holden's Monaros stormed from the start to a thrilling 1-2 finish in the Bathurst 24-Hour race at Mount Panorama today. Greg Murphy, winner of the recent Bathurst 1000, drove the 05 ...
Holden's Monaros stormed from the start to a thrilling 1-2 finish in the Bathurst 24-Hour race at Mount Panorama today.
Greg Murphy, winner of the recent Bathurst 1000, drove the 05# Garry Rogers Motorsport Monaro across the line at 2 pm, watched from the pits by co-drivers Jason Bright, Todd Kelly and Peter Brock, who extended his personal record of Bathurst endurance victories to 10.
Just 0.3 seconds behind came the 427# car, shared by last year's winners Garth Tander, Cameron McConville, Steven Richards and Nathan Pretty.
Making it an all-Australian hat-trick in an international field of 45 starters, the Porsche GT3 of Peter Fitzgerald, John Teulan, Paul Morris and Scott Shearman was third, although 12 laps behind.
The Monaros ran in formation, changing places occasionally from the moment Pretty led the start from pole position - but no-one expected such a dramatic finish.
The yellow 427# at 1 pm lost the lead it had held since 4 am. Mechanics took almost five minutes to change a faulty differential oil pump and Murphy swept past.
Tander set off in hot pursuit, but team manager Garry Rogers was heard to tell both drivers over the radio to restrain themselves.
When he finally let them off the leash around seven minutes from the finish -- with a forceful instruction not to collide -- Tander immediately attacked the back of 05#.
He drove the fastest lap of the race, 2 minutes 14.48 seconds with just six minutes remaining and got so close to Murphy the pair rubbed mudguards.
The winner covered 527 laps, or 3267 kms. This was five laps fewer 532 than in 2002, but the field this year was slowed by several heavy rain storms and 14 periods behind the safety car.
A total of 33 cars were running at the finish.
Significant retirements included the 420# PHR Scuderia BMW in a collision with Brock's car in the Cutting on lap 131.
The popular Morgan Aero 8 pulled out with engine failure on lap 97 and the Austrian BE Racing team of David Brabham, Andrea Montermini, Philipp Peter and Klaus Engelhorn lost their Ferrari with engine failure and a consequent crash on lap 267.
Event promoter PROCAR Australia announced a three-day attendance of 41,234 people, a 20,000 increase on the inaugural race.
Although Brock's nine previous Bathurst victories were in the 1000 race, he said he counted the 24-Hour as a genuine 10 th enduro.
His win capped a season in which he came out of retirement at age 58 to drive the Monaro in Nations Cup competition.
"It is quite a long time since I stood up here in this position and I can tell you it is an excellent feeling," Brock said.
"The crew that put the car together and helped me during the year have been fantastic and the three magnificent drivers I had over the weekend - you really couldn't choose a better bunch of guys.
"What a fantastic result, I have never seen a 24-hour race finish off like that. Two team cars, battling it out with a winning margin of only a couple of 10 ths of a second.
"It's unbelievable - I am just over the moon."
Tander said: "I certainly gave it a go. There was more carnage, more debris and more slow cars on the track in the last three laps than there was in the whole 24 hours.
"We were having a bit of a go and I had a couple of looks, but it wasn't worth fencing both cars. And besides, I still wanted to be employed tomorrow."
"To have to go flat chat for three laps at the finish was amazing. I have to say there are eight blokes here who really won the race today; separating the two cars is tough and we all deserve to win," he said.
"We never touched the grass, never touched the gravel trap, it was pretty incredible. This really is an awesome result."
While the Holdens roared away with the race, there were many other impressive drives throughout the field.
The 54# Porsche was never out of the top four and took a stranglehold on third after the BE Racing Ferrari retired.
The German Porsche 6# team of brothers Jurgen and Uwe Alzen, Arno Klasen and Michael Bartels briefly ventured into third but eventually finished fourth outright and first in Class B, seemingly without missing a beat all weekend.
Class D was won by the 71# BMW M3 of Boylan/Hansen/Morgan/Bates. The touring cars were expected to struggle against stronger GT competition this year, but the BMW came home ninth outright for its second top 10 result in two years.
The 27# BMW (Russell/Cramp/King/Stubber) had led the class for much of the race, but dropped 10 laps after a lost wheel put King into the Hell Corner sand trap.
Class E went to the Toyota Celica 13# of Osborne/Roecken/Keene/Grocl, which ran almost faultlessly to outlast the 62# Holden Commodore (Loadsman/Luff/Luff/Russell), which lost the lead during repairs of a split oil radiator.
The Class F victory was taken by the Future Tourer Holden Commodore of Williams/Moore/Bosnjak, which finished 10 th outright, with a total of 460 laps completed.