TURMOIL ON THE MOUNTAIN Larry Perkins/Russell Ingall Claim Victory After Huge Drive From Last Place Brief Report: Tooheys 1000 Endurance Classic for 5.0 litre V8 Touring Cars Mount Panorama, Bathurst NSW Australia. Sunday October 1...
TURMOIL ON THE MOUNTAIN
Larry Perkins/Russell Ingall Claim Victory After Huge Drive From Last Place
Brief Report: Tooheys 1000 Endurance Classic for 5.0 litre V8 Touring Cars Mount Panorama, Bathurst NSW Australia. Sunday October 1 1995 Start: 1000 local time.
Nearly 45,000 people were on hand to witness one of the most enthralling Bathurst events for many years.
One of the world's most gruelling Touring Car races, the Bathurst enduro has seen the world's best humbled by the treacherous 6.213 km mountain road circuit where average speeds often clock over 170kph.
Young lions, Lowndes and Murphy put the No.2 Holden factory car on pole position with a scorching 2' 11.55, nudging out veteran mountain man, Larry Perkins in his own Castrol Holden Commodore.
A disappointing grid of just over 30 cars raised many criticisms over the exclusive V8 formula that allows only Holden (GM) and Ford vehicles. 1995 was the first time in the race's 30+ year history that smaller capacity cars have been omitted.
Motorcycle hero, Wayne Gardner, was quickest off the start, coming from behind to lead at the first corner. Larry Perkins was forced to pit on lap one after a puncture, placing him at the rear of the field, over a lap behind. Two cars failed on the grid and had to be removed by winch.
The attrition rate was over 50% as the highly fancied and privateer alike fell by the wayside in what has become a long-distance sprint race. Both factory Holdens were out early with engine maladies. Jim Richards and Mark Skaife (Winfield Holden Commodore), both previous winners, also were forced to retire. Accidents claimed more, fortunately all without injury.
After several pace car laps under yellow bunched the field up, much to Perkins's delight, the sprint to the flag had the country on the edge of their seats. Glenn Seton (Peter Jackson Ford Falcon) inherited the lead after a controversial clash with race-leader and newly crowned Touring Car champion, John Bowe (Shell Ford Falcon). A frustrated Dick Johnson (Shell lead driver) blamed Seton and took a rough hand to a hapless photographer when the car came in for what turned out to be lengthy repairs.
Perkins and Ingall had driven up a storm to be back to third place just ten laps from the end. Seton stormed off in the Ford and looked comfortable, several seconds ahead of the following pack, led by NASCAR champion Brad Jones in the No.2 Coca Cola Commodore. Perkins fought past Jones, who appeared to have a minor problem, bringing the crowd to a frenzy. Seton was holding his buffer just eight laps from the end when a serious misfire struck his Ford, letting Perkins past. The car finally coming to a halt half way up the steep climb to the top. Seton, always a top and much fancied runner, has never won the Bathurst event. Just turned 30, driving car 30, 30 years after his father won in a Ford, Seton had been offered a $30,000 bonus if he won. His in-car camera turned to him and the quiet young man could barely talk through tears. His pit crew, to a man, stood in disbelief, jaws agape, eyes glazed, numbed in despair.
Perkins, now in the lead, had the crowd in a frenzy. Just Alan Jones in Seton's No.2 car was left to challenge Perkins, but the crowd favourite was six seconds ahead at the final flag.
Third was Wayne Gardner and Neil Crompton in the No.1 Coca Cola Commodore. Fourth; Anders Olofsson (SWE) and young Steven Richards ( No.2 Winfield Commodore). Brad Jones, with UK veteran Win Percy soldiered on for fifth. Top five finishers on the same lap! British Touring Car Champion, John Cleland, was first privateer home with co-driver Tony Scott's Pinnacle Commodore in sixth - three laps behind.
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************************************* Rod Eime - Motorsport Photojournalist http://www.ozemail.com.au/~rodeime *************************************