V8 SUPERCARS: Crazy wheels on the Mountain
IT WAS a contest for the ages, a mad, unpredictable Bathurst 1000. There were crashes galore; an hour of suspended action while repairs were carried out to the track surface; a controversial call to give Craig Lowndes a drive-through penalty that ruined his race; an agonising late-race glitch that took pacesetter Shane Van Gisbergen out of contention; and a final lap drama hitting a fuel-starved Jamie Whincup.
Not to mention Chaz Mostert/Paul Morris coming from last on the grid to finish first. The duo didn’t lead on any of the 160 laps, but quite extraordinarily hit the front when it counted, less than half a lap from the chequered flag, to give Ford Performance Racing a stunning second consecutive win.
The Ford odd couple – young tearaway rookie Mostert in only his second Bathurst 1000 start, and veteran part-timer Paul Morris – landed a remarkable victory ahead of James Moffat and Taz Douglas, who gave Nissan its first V8 Supercars success in Australia’s biggest domestic motor race. Yesterday marked the return to the Bathurst podium of the famous Moffat name, 30 years after papa Allan last stood there.
Third were tall timbers Nick Percat and Oliver Gavin for Walkinshaw Racing.
There were several hard-luck tales. Tekno’s Van Gisbergen led the field on a merry dance and looked to have the race at his mercy, when he stalled in the pits after his final fuel-only stop and couldn’t restart the Holden.
Then, just seven laps from home, Lowndes was sensationally penalised for tapping Ford’s Mark Winterbottom into a spin after Frosty ran wide. The debate continues whether this was a rough call and there was some support for the officials to wait until after the race to impose any sanction.
With the laps running down, Jamie Whincup held sway from the hard-pressing Mostert, the young charger benefitting from a top-up while the defending V8 Supercars champ was in fuel conservation mode.
Entering the final lap, and with his ears ringing from his race engineer Dave Cauchi’s dire warnings about using too much fuel, Whincup had his mirrors full of FPR Falcon.
Mostert knew the Holden was running on empty. “The last five laps all I could think was, ‘cough, you bastard, cough’,” he said.
Exiting Forrest’s Elbow, the Red Bull Holden faltered, and Mostert swooped to the front. Whincup’s gamble had failed.
The winning car started from the last row (alongside Whincup) due to a penalty for overtaking under red flag conditions during qualifying on Friday.
Morris, 46, showed that patience and opportunity can land a Bathurst classic win late in a driver’s career. He was a surprise choice as co-driver at FPR but now has his name on the Peter Brock Trophy.
His late-career win came 17 years after he crossed the line first in the 1997 AMP Bathurst 1000 for super tourers but was disqualified afterwards.
Volvo’s Scott McLaughlin took the lead early and stayed up front with some consistent laps, until he got in the marbles duelling with fellow Kiwi Van Gisbergen and ended in the wall.
The race, the longest in Bathurst 1000 history at seven hours and 58 minutes, was stretched by the one-hour stoppage to repair damaged bitumen at turn two, and a total of 10 safety car interruptions.
After the tumultuous day, Whincup continues to top the championship points table.
2014 Bathurst 1000
1 Chaz Mostert/Paul Morris (Ford)
2 James Moffat/Taz Douglas (Nissan)
3 Nick Percat/Oliver Gavin (Holden)
4 Will Davison/Alex Davison (Erebus AMG Mercedes)
5 Jamie Whincup/Paul Dumbrell (Holden)
6 Mark Winterbottom/Steve Owen (Ford)
7 Todd Kelly/Alex Buncombe (Nissan)
8 Rick Kelly/David Russell (Nissan)
9 Fabian Coulthard/Luke Youlden (Holden)
10 Craig Lowndes/Steven Richards (Holden)
DRIVER CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1 Jamie Whincup – Triple Eight: 2547 points
2 Mark Winterbottom – Ford Pepsi Max Crew: 2250
3 Craig Lowndes – Triple Eight: 2208
4 Shane van Gisbergen – Tekno: 2096
5 James Courtney – HRT: 2096
V8 SUPERCARS: Ford to go…or will it stay?
MARKETING reasons and money – not any emotional attachment – will be the ultimate consideration for Ford on the passionate topic of whether it withdraws from V8 Supercars racing.
Along with the Holden brand, Ford is a foundation member of the category. The whole V8 Supercars ‘thing’ was built around the traditional rivalry between the two tribes. Red versus Blue.
After a slow start, but propelled by lots of hype, V8 Supercars racing took off, and much of the appeal came from those brutal battles between Falcon and Commodore.
But any two-make form of racing always comes with attendant hazards, principally the disastrous outcome if one brand elects to depart.
Loyalty exists among V8 Supercars spectators, but never believe the same of the car makes involved. People who have been around the car makers for a long time understand that every big move they make is ultimately related to selling cars.
The motoring landscape in Australia has changed dramatically in the past two decades – and will continue to evolve to meet the demands of consumers, and the needs of the planet. Stating the bloody obvious, sales of big family sedans have nose-dived, and versatile SUVs and ever-better/safer/efficient/comfortable small cars are now preferred by buyers.
Recent speculative media reports (conspicuously devoid of quotes from any sources), were designed to bring pressure to bear on Ford Australia to reverse its (still unconfirmed) call to head for the V8 Supercars exit.
Ford gave the last Falcon model, the FGX, a preview gallop around Mount Panorama during the Bathurst 1000 carnival and no doubt it will bathe in the spotlight surrounding the Chaz Mostert/Paul Morris victory, so it still believes in the value of the racing connection. While the Falcon will cease production in October 2016, V8SA continues to lobby Ford to stay in V8 Supercars, as does Ford Performance Racing and DJR Team Penske.
The speculation that Ford is getting out of racing is interesting in light of the emphasis the local arm will be placing on the sporty Mustang when it goes on sale here next year. There has been ongoing debate too that V8 Supercars would open up the category to two-door cars like the ’Stang and GM’s Camaro.
Without any confirmation of ongoing factory backing from Broadmeadows, FPR and DJR Team Penske will use the new-model FGX Falcon in the 2015 V8 Supercars Championship.
But both Ford squads are only planning one year ahead at this stage, with Ford Australia unprepared to make a call until the end of this season.
Both teams will join forces to homologate the FGX, which they aim to improve in some key areas where the present Falcon V8 Supercar is seen as hurting – rear aero and panel weights.
Penske is the second-largest auto dealership group in the world, with 327 retail automotive franchises across 42 different brands, including Ford. Roger Penske may well have thoughts on using DJR Team Penske to introduce a new brand to the category from 2016.
FORMULA ONE: Merc one-two; Red Bull seven-eight
LEWIS Hamilton has extended his lead in the F1 drivers championship by winning the inaugural Russian Grand Prix ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in front of a proud Vladimir Putin.
The dominance by the flying Mercs secured the constructors title for the team.
Hamilton, who started from pole, has now won the last four GPs on the trot and his ninth of the season, helped by Rosberg locking up in turn one and damaging his tyres.
Rosberg was forced to pit for fresh tyres on lap two, setting the stage for a great fightback from 20th to second at Soichi. He covered 52 laps on the same set of tyres.
Impressive Finn Valtteri Bottas took third for Williams after setting the race’s fastest lap. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel were seventh and eighth respectively.
Ricciardo, who started seventh, had a tough opening few laps after yet another poor getaway. “The first few laps were pretty hectic and we lost a few places at the start. We will have to have a look at that; it’s nearly the end of the season now, but we haven’t had many good starts so that’s a bit frustrating,” he said.
“Starting the race, the tyre was already blistered, it had quite a bit from qualifying, so it wasn’t looking too healthy and the first stint made it worse. I could see it starting to come apart, so we had to pit quite early. Then on the prime, the tyre lasted well and we had good pace and could match Alonso, but couldn’t get past.”
Before the start of the race, the 21 drivers stood silently on the grid in a tribute to Jules Bianchi, critically injured a week earlier in Japan.
With 100 points available from the final three races (with double points in Abu Dhabi), Hamilton on 291 points leads Rosberg by 17.
Next: The US GP in Austin.
FORMULA RENAULT 1.6: Aussie De Pasquale closes on title
AUSTRALIA’S reigning Formula Ford champ Anton De Pasquale needs to grab a few points from a busy three-race finale at Zandvoort next weekend to bag the Formula Renault 1.6 Championship in his first foray abroad.
A dominant win and a hard-earned sixth at Spa Franchorchamps last weekend has eased De Pasquale’s lead out to 73 points.
He has now won seven races and finished on the podium a further three times in 12 starts.
In qualifying, De Pasquale’s failure to get the much-needed aerodynamic tow from a car ahead cost him dearly, relegating him to his lowest qualifying of the year, starting in positions three and nine for the weekend’s two races.
But De Pasquale converted his third grid slot into a crushing 9.5sec win in the first race at Spa, leaving his opposition floundering.
The wet second race was more problematic for De Pasquale, and his wets eventually wilted under the torture of pushing hard from further back on a damp track.
Keeping his mistake-free season intact, De Pasquale banked sixth-place points and is looking almost unstoppable in his title bid.
MOTOGP: Lorenzo wins; Marquez takes the title
YAMAHA’S Jorge Lorenzo yesterday dominated at the Twin Ring Motegi for the second year in a row, taking a slick 2.7sec victory at the Grand Prix of Japan.
But second-placed Marc Marquez claimed second to wrap up the 2014 MotoGP Championship.
Valentino Rossi also continued his strong recent form to take the final podium slot.
The win means Lorenzo equals five-time 500cc world champion Michael Doohan's record of 54 victories in his GP career, the difference being that Mighty Mick took all of his triumphs in the premier class.
MOTO3: Miller’s title hopes dive further
JACK Miller’s Moto3 title hopes have taken another hit, with a last-lap mistake at Motegi costing the Queenslander a handful of places and a bag of points.
Spain’s Alex Marquez won the race in Japan, extending his world championship lead to 25 points.
Miller led for much of the frantic race, and heading into the last lap was part of a bunched pack of six all chasing the win.
At the end of the back straight, amidst the jostling and late braking, Miller and Danny Kent both ran wide, then narrowly avoided coming together as they regained the track.
Miller finished fifth, 1.2 seconds behind Marquez. He’ll be going all out to redeem himself next weekend at Phillip Island.