EXHAUSTING BATHURST 12 HOUR FOR TMR LEADS TO DOUBLE DISAPPOINTMENT Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Australia (TMR) Team Principle Alan Heaphy did his best to remain philosophical as both TMR Mitsubishi Lancer Evo Xs failed to finish today's...
EXHAUSTING BATHURST 12 HOUR FOR TMR LEADS TO DOUBLE DISAPPOINTMENT
Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Australia (TMR) Team Principle Alan Heaphy did his best to remain philosophical as both TMR Mitsubishi Lancer Evo Xs failed to finish today's extraordinary Armour All Bathurst 12 Hour production car race at Mount Panorama.
"They say ‘two out of three ain't bad', but that's not the way we look at it. We were certainly there with the opportunity to win it for the third time in a row," Heaphy said.
The Pedigree Petfoods Evo X of Damien White, Rod Salmon and Ian Tulloch ran at the head of the field for about nine hours in a race of incredible happenings that included a massive gum tree falling across the circuit at Forrest's Elbow, the Pedigree car almost being put a lap down by the officials, intermittent rain and huge crashes.
The race's tumultuous events left debris around the circuit leading to the demise of car #1.
"Whatever the car clobbered has gone up underneath and cracked the exhaust. The heat was blowing straight back onto a dish of cables and welded them together," Heaphy said.
The damage left the car with gear selection problems but the halt was called due to the probability that the braking system on the car would also be affected.
On course television broadcast images of a spent White slumped over the rear wing.
"He's not a well boy. He barely made it from the car to the garage this morning. He required medical assistance. He's been ill for the past few days and he was dehydrated quite badly so they took him to the medical centre and had him on a saline drip."
Heaphy was earlier forced to call upon all his vast team management skills and experience when the car was almost put a lap down by a scoring error during a flurry of pit stops.
"It makes you wonder sometimes doesn't it?" Heaphy mused. "It was quite clear even on the monitor that we'd passed the lead car in pit lane. Everything indicated that we were in front of them but somehow they (officials) had missed that."
The cool thinking team boss made his way to race control, put his case, and sanity prevailed. The Pedigree Evo took its rightful place at the head of the queue behind the pace car but further drama awaited.
Rod Salmon was driving when the problem manifested itself when his left foot became unbearably hot.
"It's picked up a bit of debris. A bit of gum tree or a bit of Subaru or a bit of someone else's Evo X. That cracked the exhaust and it was just blowing back straight onto the firewall," Salmon explained.
"We were better placed than when we have won the event before, with only three cars on the lead lap and only three hours to go."
"It's disappointing, but it was a day of trees and kangaroos and stops," said Inky Tulloch, who described the day as ‘amazing'. I have never sat at the top of Mount Panorama for 40 minutes before in a race. It's been a real up and down day and it could have been a fairytale ending, but it just wasn't to be."
The West Surfing Products Evo slammed the wall early in the race with Stuart Kostera at the wheel as the West Aussie driver attempted to place a slower car a lap down. It dropped 10 laps and despite inspired driving from Warren Luff and Glyn Crimp was later withdrawn.
The impact was a big impact and lead to the later withdrawal of the car with the contact with the wall at Forrest's Elbow forcing the engine sideways and cracked the exhaust which broke the back of the turbo.
Prior to the altercation the #55 car was amongst the fastest on the circuit, holding down a comfortable top-five position in the early running before the dramatic events of their day began.
The race which finished behind the pace car was won by the BMW 335i of Paul Morris, John Bowe and Garry Holt.
-source: tmr australia