Cat Racing stars John Bowe and Jim Richards' chance to climb the podium at Bathurst was ruined by a strange twist of fortune today when their AU Falcon V8 Supercar lost a wheel on two separate occasions.
The duo were in 3rd place after 116 laps when the right rear wheel detached from the car as Bowe climbed Mount Panorama.
After driving the car back to the pits on three wheels, the Cat crew quickly repaired the damage and sent the car back out on track only for the same drama to strike on lap 147 - this time on the left hand side.
"It is really disappointing because the car had run really well and our pit strategies had us in a really good position to get a spot on the podium," Bowe said.
"It happened almost without warning.
"Normally if you lose a wheel you can start to the car move around before it comes off - but it happened so fast on both occasions that I didn't know what happened."
Cat Racing Team Manager, Alan Heaphy also expressed disappointment with the result after a very promising run.
"It is certainly very strange because the locking mechanisms were still in place on the hubs and there was no metal filings on the thread.
"We have run this equipment all year and have state-of-the-art wheel guns. Until we get a wheel or hopefully a nut back from the top of the mountain - we are still unsure.
"It is as if the nuts actually snapped. All the boys in the crew are very upset because we really wanted a good result today and things were looking good."
The race was won by Holden drivers Garth Tander and Jason Bargwanna ahead of the Falcon of Paul Radisich and Jason Bright.
Bowe started the event in heavy rain and handed over to Richards after 27 laps. Richards did a double stint before Bowe returned to the car, 65 laps later.
"It was certainly very difficult conditions today and the team were really kept on their toes to work out our strategy and when to put wet or slick tyres on the car," Richards said.
"Plenty of wheels of fallen off racecars over the years, but I have never seen anything like this.
"We were really in with a good shot today, but this mountain is very tough.
"You really have to have everything going right for you, but today wasn't our day" <pre> RESULTS 7 hours 23:30.2348 minutes 1. - Tander/Bargwanna (Holden) - 161 laps 2. - Radisich/Bright (Ford) - 161 laps 3. - Murphy/Richards (Holden) - 161 laps 4. - Johnson/McLean (Ford) - 161 laps 5. - Kelly/Pretty (Holden) - 161 laps 6. - Lowndes/Skaife (Holden) - 161 laps 7. - Baird/Wills (Ford) - 161 laps 8. - McDougal/Miedecke (Holden) - 161 laps 9. - Parsons/Hossack (Ford) - 161 laps 10. - Plato/Muller (Holden) - 159 laps DNF BOWE/RICHARDS (FORD)