Bathurst 1000: Davison/Webb clinch thrilling victory

Bathurst 1000: Davison/Webb clinch thrilling victory
Oct 9, 2016, 6:57 AM

Will Davison and Jono Webb clinched a thrilling Bathurst 1000 victory, Davison holding off a determined Shane van Gisbergen in stunning style to win The Great Race.

It came down to a 15-second penalty for Jamie Whincup, the man who dominated the race, after a spectacular clash with Scott McLaughlin and Garth Tander. So despite crossing the line first, Whincup was classified 11th.

Davison, meanwhile, won the race without technically leading a lap all day. He did, however, have to work for his second Bathurst win (and Webb’s first), holding off a rampant van Gisbergen while also having to save fuel over the closing laps.

“I’m honestly speechless,” said Davison. “That was… so stressful. I knew if I lifted to save any more fuel Shane would be in there. It coughed into the last corner. I ran out of fuel as I crossed the line.

“Some things are weird, I can’t believe how that panned out.”

Van Gisbergen and Alex Premat were classified second, Nick Percat and Cam McConville taking a hugely unlikely third place for minnows LD Motorsport.

Story of the final third of the race

The strategic sweet spot kept moving across the final third of the race. A pair of Safety Cars soon after the four-hour mark made it seem like a race between one and two-stoppers across the last 40-odd laps. The likes of Jamie Whincup and Will Davison were banking on needing to stop twice from Lap 117 onwards, Shane van Gisbergen, Garth Tander, Mark Winterbottom, and Scott McLaughlin all looking at one.

It sparked one of the great Bathurst stints by Whincup. Knowing he needed to put time between himself and his teammate, Whincup went on a tear after the Lap 117 restart. He not only became the first driver into the 2m06s during a Bathurst 1000 race, but continually lapped in that bracket as he attempted to sprint from the field, lowering his own lap record – set in the first third of the race – to a 2m06.636s in the process.

It didn’t stop until Lap 134, when Winterbottom – himself in contention sitting behind Tander and McLaughlin – ran out of brakes at The Chase and buried his Prodrive Ford… which brought out a fourth Safety Car.

Everyone dived into the lane, neutralising the race and putting Whincup and van Gisbergen back on the same strategy, but with Whincup in P1 and van Gisbergen back in eighth.

A second tour through the pits behind the same SC for more fuel then handed advantage to Coulthard and McLaughlin, who opted not to make the additional stop, which meant track positions (first and second), but more marginal on fuel.

Tander also jumped Whincup during that second stop, leaving them third and fourth respectively, and with a little more fuel to play with.

When the race restarted on Lap 139, all four cars were right in contention for victory. What followed was a thrilling on track battle between McLaughlin, Tander, and Whincup, the latter getting past Tander on Lap 147.

But his attempt to get past McLaughlin on Lap 150 didn’t go as well, Whincup clipping McLaughlin at The Chase, the spinning Volvo then ramming into Tander. Both cars were out of contention on the spot.

The resulting Safety Car saw leader Fabian Coulthard drop out of contention as he took the extra stop he was always going to need, while Whincup was swiftly handed with a 15-second penalty.

Sprint to the finish

Davison was suddenly last man standing. All he had to do was hold off van Gisbergen over the run to the flag, not helped by a short Safety Car four laps from the end.

But he got there in the end, clinching a stunning victory by two tenths over van Gisbergen after a thrilling final two laps of nose-to-tail motor racing.

The finish was the closest in Bathurst history.

Whincup’s day got even worse on Lap 156 when Rick Kelly went into the wall at Forests Elbow. Despite Kelly being able to back the car out himself, Race Control called a Safety Car. It meant Whincup’s attempt to minimise the damage by sprinting away out front was in vain. In the end his ‘winning’ margin was only good enough to be classified 11th.

Behind Percat and McConville, Cameron Waters and Jack Le Brocq popped up in fourth place at the finish, ahead of Scott Pye/Tony D’Alberto. Coulthard and Luke Youlden were classified sixth.

Tim Slade and Ash Walsh came back from their earlier brake fire to finish a remarkable seventh, ahead of a pair of Nissans in Michael Caruso and Dean Fiore, and Dale Wood and David Russell.

Tim Blanchard and Macauley Jones rounded out the Top 10.

Meanwhile, Chaz Mostert’s up-and-down day finally came to an end on Lap 119. The second and third Safety Cars had brought the #55 Prodrive Racing Ford back into contention, putting Mostert in the one-stop group after stopping twice behind the third SC.

But just two laps after the restart the Falcon gave up for the day, Mostert limping back to the pits and effectively out of the race. He and Owen wound up the last of the classified finishers down in 19th.

“It’s one of those things,” said Mostert. “This place, I’ve been saying it all week, there are 99 things that can go wrong, and one thing that can go right. I’m really disappointed. [But] this year’s Bathurst is still better than last year’s.”

Outside of the Top 3, the feel-good result of the day was the Supergirls Nissan. Despite running without a cool suit all afternoon, Simona de Silvestro and Renee Gracie survived the carnage to come home 14th.

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