Kostecki/Russell lead Bathurst, Moffat crashes

08 Oct
Pole-sitting car lead Repco Bathurst 1000 at halfway point as big names drop out
5 mins by James Pavey
  • Kostecki/Russell leads 2023 Great Race at midway point

  • Waters/Moffat Ford crashes out, Lowndes wildcard suffers gear lever issues

  • Three Safety Cars called through 70 laps

The pole-sitting #99 Coca-Cola Camaro of Brodie Kostecki/David Russell leads the Repco Bathurst 1000 at halfway, with a number of big names dropping out of contention.

Russell was at the wheel as the field ticked over 80 laps at Mount Panorama, with Anton De Pasquale/Tony D'Alberto (#11 Shell V-Power Mustang) and Shane van Gisbergen/Richie Stanaway (#97 Red Bull Ampol Camaro) behind.

The biggest scalp of the first half of the race was the Cam Waters/James Moffat Ford, with Moffat crashing the #6 Monster Energy Mustang at The Dipper.

The Moffat incident triggered the third bp Ultimate Safety Car of the day, following incidents for Kevin Estre (#19 Penrite Ford) and Dale Wood (#8 R&J Batteries Camaro). 

First lap: Whincup rounds up Russell to take lead

Estre bowled a wide at Hell Corner on lap 27, with Wood escorted into the Murray’s Corner sand by Scott Pye (#20 Toyota Forklifts Camaro). Wood later suffered a dramatic engine failure just prior to the Moffat crash.

Craig Lowndes’ 30th Bathurst start was undone by a broken gear mount in the opening stint, before the #888 Supercheap Auto Camaro was later pinged over a pit lane infringement.

There were a number of other incidents that added to a frantic race; Simona De Silvestro was sent into spins at The Chase and Forrest’s Elbow, while Brad Jones Racing teammates Macauley Jones and Jack Smith collided after the second restart. There was more pain for BJR, with the Bryce Fullwood/Dean Fiore #14 Middy’s Electrical Camaro penalised over a pit lane infringement.

Jamie Whincup (#88 Red Bull Ampol Camaro) rounded up Russell around Hell Corner at the start, but the latter stalked the four-time Bathurst winner through the opening laps. Whincup staved off a racy Russell and began to open up a margin. By lap 20, Whincup was 4.3s up the road, with James Golding (#31 Nulon Camaro) 10.4s behind.

Estre triggers first Safety Car with Hell Corner off

Waters initially challenged Golding before falling into the clutches of Stanaway and Will Brown (#9 Coca-Cola Camaro), who was fighting through after starting 17th. Waters was first passed at Griffins Bend by Stanaway, and at The Chase by Brown.

Golding was first of the leaders to pit on lap 21 and handed the #31 Nulon Camaro over to Dylan O’Keeffe. It was a different story for teammate Jonathon Webb (#23 Nulon Camaro), who ran off at The Chase on lap 14 after clearing the ailing Lowndes. Lowndes managed to return the #888 Supercheap Auto Camaro to the garage, with the car handed over to Zane Goddard and released back into the race, albeit three laps down.

Waters and Matt Payne stopped on lap 22 and handed over to Moffat and Estre respectively. The two Fords swapped positions as the #6 Monster Ford underwent a diagnostic after it recorded a fuel dash warning.

On lap 24, van Gisbergen took over from Stanaway. Three laps later, Brown’s spirited first stint — from 17th to third — ended as he handed the #9 Camaro over to Perkins on lap 27, with Garth Tander handing the #26 Penrite Ford over to Reynolds.

Wood buried at Murray's Corner after Pye contact

The bp Ultimate Safety Car was called on for the first time when Estre buried the #19 Penrite Ford at Hell Corner. Whincup handed over to Feeney, having built a 6.6s lead over Russell. As Feeney rejoined, he was cleared by Reynolds after they both crossed the Safety Car line.

O’Keeffe led van Gisbergen, Reynolds, Feeney, Moffat and Kostecki to green on lap 30, with Race Control quickly handing Reynolds a drive-through penalty over a Safety Car control line incident. O’Keeffe was quickly picked off by van Gisbergen, Reynolds and Feeney, with Kostecki clearing Moffat as the pole-sitter fought back to the front.

Feeney passed Reynolds at Hell Corner to make it a Triple Eight one-two before the Penrite Ford took his penalty. By lap 39, van Gisbergen had opened up a 3.6s by the time the second Safety Car was called.

Feeney and Perkins were stung by double-stacking during the Safety Car period; Whincup took over and dropped to 16th in the queue, with Perkins rejoining 13th. Estre, meanwhile, got his lap back thanks to a wave by.

Reynolds penalised over Safety Car breach

Mark Winterbottom (#18 DEWALT Camaro), Fabian Coulthard (#2 Mobil 1 NTI Mustang) and Declan Fraser (#56 TRADIE Beer Mustang) stayed out and led Kostecki, Stanaway, De Pasquale and Moffat to green on lap 42.

Kostecki claimed the lead on lap 45 and attempted to pull away from Stanaway, but the margin stabilised and later dropped to 0.5s by lap 55.

Whincup fought back towards the front, moving up to ninth by lap 56 in a charge highlighted by a move on Perkins on lap 50. Behind them, De Pasquale and Fullwood dropped back, with a resurgent Chaz Mostert (#25 Mobil 1 Optus Mustang) passing Moffat for fifth at The Chase, which also allowed Pye through.

Fullwood, Pye and Whincup stopped on lap 61; by that time, Kostecki had opened up 2.7s over Stanaway. Stanaway followed Kostecki in two laps later; Russell took over as Stanaway remained in the #97, which was short-fuelled and gained track position. Whincup, as Stanaway and Russell returned to the track, was just 2.5s from the lead.

Moffat crashes out after Wood suffers major failure

The lead Fords of De Pasquale, Mostert and Moffat stopped on lap 65. Moffat took the five-second penalty, and emerged down the order behind Perkins. Stanaway retook the lead once Reynolds stopped on lap 69, with the #97, #99 and #88 separated by just two seconds.

The field was neutralised for a third time when Moffat crashed at The Dipper, shortly after Wood brought the ailing #8 R&J Batteries Camaro into the lane.

Moffat dragged the damaged #6 Ford to the lane, but blocked pit entry due to broken steering. The blockage delayed the #31 Nulon Chevrolet, with the #25 Mobil 1 Optus Ford sneaking through.

Russell stayed out as Triple Eight short-fuelled the #97, with Whincup copping another double-stack, albeit brief. Russell bolted away on the lap 74 restart ahead of D’Alberto, with Whincup ninth in the queue after a brief double-stack.

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