Mostert/Owen lead wet Bathurst at halfway
Chaz Mostert and Steve Owen led a rain-affected Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 at halfway as race favourites Scott McLaughlin and Alex Premat hit trouble.
The Prodrive pair held an 11.6s lead from Prodrive team-mates Cameron Waters and Richie Stanaway, who led from lap 40 following and impressive stint by Richie Stanaway in treacherous conditions at Mount Panorama.
Mostert assumed the lead on lap 82 when he took advantage of the race’s first Safety Car after 75 laps of running in desperately wet conditions.
The 2014 Bathurst 1000 winner initially led the race shortly after McLaughlin ran on at Murray’s corner on lap 2.
He went on to build a healthy lead before handing over to co-driver Steve Owen, who was slow away at the opening pit stop.
However the pair were then hampered by a pit lane penalty for spinning wheels in the stop which dropped them to ninth.
The pair managed hover around the top 10 before Mostert scythed his way through the field after the Safety Car.
The early penalty for the Mostert/Owen car promoted the Erebus Motorsport Holden of David Reynolds and Luke Youlden into the lead.
Youlden drove faultlessly in his stint to open up a healthy lead over Stanaway, but the Kiwi reeled in the leader following a stunning drive as heavy rain fell at the top of the mountain.
The Red Bull Holden of Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell held third for long periods, but dropped to fourth just shy of halfway.
The car leapt from 11th on the grid into the top five in the opening laps as Whincup mastered tricky conditions.
The Red Bull Holden of Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell leapt into the top five from 11th on the grid in the opening laps as Whincup mastered tricky conditions.
Whincup and Dumbrell continued their charge to assume third with the duo firmly in the hunt after the third stop.
The Mobil 1 HSV Racing entry of Scott Pye and Warren Luff provided one of the standout performances to climb from 20th to fourth.
Luff, who was the only co-driver to start the race in wet conditions, drove superbly to put the car into the top 10 before handing over Pye.
Pye continued the charge to hold fourth before dropping to fifth.
The Shane van Gisbergen/Matt Campbell Red Bull Holden spent much of the opening half languishing towards the rear of the field after Campbell suffered a series of off track excursions. The car dropped off the lead lap.
However, van Gisbergen managed to climb back to fifth although he had only made three pit stops at that point.
Meanwhile, the Red Bull cars bizarrely took advantage of a squeegee on a stick inside their cars to clear the windscreen.
This was cleared by Supercars before the start of the race.
“We’re definitely in the clear because we cleared it before the race,” said team manager Mark Dutton.
“We got Dave Stuart, technical director, to inspect it, and where we’ve got magnets to hold it on you can nearly not pull it from the rollcage, so it’s definitely secure.
“It’s actually tough for the drivers to get it off to do it.”
Jason Bright/Garry Jacobson (#56 Prodrive) was seventh ahead of James Golding/Garth Tander (#33 Garry Rogers Motorsport).
James Moffat produced an impressive drive from 22nd on the grid in his stint to help the #34 GRM Holden to ninth, while the top 10 was completed by the Mobil 1 HSV Racing Holden of James Courtney and Jack Perkins.
Brad Jones Racing’s #8 entry of Nick Percat and Macauley Jones caught the eye of the officials for a seatbelt infringement during their first stop.
The left shoulder belt was not fastened in the release box when Jones left the pit-lane, which resulted in a pit lane penalty that dropped from inside the top 10 to 24th position.
Meanwhile, last year’s winners Tekno Autosports also copped a 15 second time penalty after Jonathon Webb made contact with the rear of Campbell at Murrays corner on lap 30, while fighting for position at the rear of the field.