The V8SCOPS Bathurst 1000 produced a typically captivating spectacle, filled with drama, spiced with a little controversy and topped with some simply brilliant racing.
Sim Racing Oz editor Lachlan Mansell delivers his verdict on the highlights and lowlights of the event.
PHOTOS: Cameron Dance
Thumbs Up – Madison Down/Dayne Warren
The lead Trans Tasman Car may not have led every lap but Down and Warren always seemed to be in control of the race. During his stints, Down knew when to push and when to relax, while Warren had pace in abundance, which he used to great effect to pull away from the cars that were squabbling behind him after the last Safety Car restart.
The V8SCOPS Bathurst 1000 was an item both drivers desperately wanted to check off their respective bucket lists and they got the job done in style, lifting the Virtual Peter Brock Trophy and securing the V8SCOPS Endurance Cup crown.
Thumbs Down – James Scott/Cooper Webster
Coming into the race, everything looked good for Scott and Webster; they had qualified strongly in the top four and both drivers had demonstrated strong speed during practice and qualifying.
The race was going according to plan as well, until the engine inexplicably expired on lap 22, consigning the Altus eSports Commodore to the sidelines for the rest of the day and severely denting Scott’s championship hopes.
Thumbs Up – Andrew Gilliam/Michael Talijancich
This car yo-yoed between the top five and the lower reaches of the top 10 for most of the day, with both drivers keeping their noses clean and concentrating on “buying a ticket” to the last hour.
An inspired late pitstop for a fresh set of tyres proved a masterstroke, but Gilliam still needed to pass some seven cars in the final 10 laps to secure the runner-up position. He executed the task with a combination of clean, incisive passing moves and some skilful evasive action to steer clear of a few incidents, securing a deserved runner-up spot for Pursuit Sim Racing.
Thumbs Down – Jake Burton/Dominic Ferraris
Burton and Ferraris had good pace throughout the race, but their race unravelled when Burton made late contact with the Fawzan El-Nabi/Harley Haber United Sim Sports entry and Sam Blacklock/Brady Meyers Altus eSports Commodores at Murray’s corner with just a handful of laps to go.
That incident earned Burton a drive-through, but worse was to come when it was revealed he had exceeded the maximum 107-lap driving distance (albeit by a solitary lap), causing he and Ferraris to be excluded from the results.
Thumbs Up – Big movers
The V8SCOPS Endurance Cup rounds have a couple of attributes that don’t apply to the regular sprint races. Firstly, qualifying is not super important and secondly, if you have an early incident, it is possible to fight back.
There were a few combinations that made impressive progress through then field; Simon Feigl/Zac Hanlin came from 22nd on the grid to seventh, Daniel Misdale/Robin Kirk brought their DPR Mustang from 26th on the grid up to 10th, Tyler Blackburn/Justin Wallace improved from 38th to 13th and Brenton O’Brien celebrated his last Bathurst 1000 by moving from 43rd on the grid to 14th in the Evolution Racing Team Commodore he shared with Reilly Blyth.
But the biggest charge through the field went to David Kinmond and Dylan Rudd, who started 50th but finished on the lead lap in 15th.
Equally impressive was the recovery performance from the Richard Hamstead/Jake Moloney car, which fell back to 43rd position after being drilled from behind during the first Safety Car and having to make an unscheduled pit stop for repairs. Hamstead and Moloney fought their way back to fourth.
Thumbs Down – compulsory pit stops
One thing we’re not a fan of here at Sim Racing Oz is having a set number of compulsory pit stops for endurance races like Bathurst. The regulations mandated seven compulsory stops, despite the fuel range of the cars making it possible for teams to complete the race on six stops.
Part of the philosophy of endurance racing is to work out the optimum times to pit, save fuel if necessary and balance driver stints so no one exceeds the maximum number of laps but your fastest driver is in the car for the sprint to the line.
While we support minimum/maximum driver lengths and perhaps a restriction on continuous driving time, we say get rid of the mandatory minimum number of stops and open the possibility of some more strategic variation.