Whincup/Lowndes/Vilander win dramatic Bathurst 12 Hour

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 05/02/2017
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

Almost a decade since scoring a hat-trick of Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 victories, Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes have rekindled their partnership in perfect fashion.

In a dramatic finish to the Bathurst 12 Hour, Whincup drove the Maranello Motorsport Ferrari that he shared with Lowndes and Toni Vilander to victory.

The Triple Eight-assisted Ferrari team waged a race long war with the Shane van Gisbergen-led Scott Taylor Motorsport Mercedes, which finally ended with a crash for the Kiwi.

Whincup and Van Gisbergen had re-entered their cars two hours from the finish, with the Ferrari leading the Mercedes by 30 seconds.

A decision not to change tyres on Van Gisbergen’s final stop gained the car track position with just 45 minutes left on the clock, but the advantage was to be short lived.

Whincup retook the lead just five minutes later – the two cars making brief side-to-side contact as Van Gisbergen fought in vain to hold the place.

The reigning Supercars champion’s race would only get worse from there, however, as he made contact with Andrew MacPherson’s lapped Porsche 30 minutes from home, turning it into the concrete wall.

The accident triggered a Safety Car and subsequent penalty for Van Gisbergen, who then crashed on his own at The Dipper, much to the disgust of co-driver Maro Engel.

Whincup eventually took the flag a lap clear of Van Gisbergen’s Pirtek Enduro Cup co-driver Matt Campbell, who combined with Patrick Long, Marc Lieb and David Calvert-Jones to win the Pro-Am Class.

The result came in Whincup's first ever GT race and follows Lowndes' previous victory with Maranello on his most recent 12 Hour start in 2014.

The day wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Maranello Ferrari, however, with Vilander receiving an early drive-through for a restart infringement.

Lowndes was then turned around by Baird on a restart in the fourth hour, leaving the Ferrari fortunate to be recovered by officials without losing a lap.

The other Supercars drivers in the field faced far bigger dramas though the day, including early leader Chaz Mostert.

Mostert’s car suffered a long delay when co-driver Max Twigg crashed in the second hour before the MARC BMW eventually succumbed to a gearbox issue.

Mark Winterbottom’s highly fancied BMW Team SRM entry was 14th after losing several laps in the race’s first half with power steering issues.

Garth Tander’s Audi was just one place further up the road after co-driver Chris Mies was the victim of early carnage.

Todd Kelly’s Nissan spent time in the lead during the day and remained in contention until being delayed by gearbox problems in the eighth hour.

Michael Caruso’s sister GT-R meanwhile completed just 174 of the race’s 290 laps after lengthy stints in the garage that began in the very opening stint.

Mechanical issues also took care of the David Reynolds Mercedes, which was running 10th when it went to the garage in the sixth hour.

Lee Holdsworth's Audi was a credible ninth overall and third in Pro-Am, while the McLaren shared by Tim Slade ended a tough day in 20th.

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