Lowndes wins Bathurst 1000 after Reynolds cramps while leading

The #888 Triple Eight Holden of Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards pic: Matthew Paul

Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards have won the 2018 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 after David Reynolds cramped up while leading with 30 laps remaining.

Reynolds’ shot at going back to back unravelled in devastating fashion when a fairly stable lead of around 1.4s evaporated in five laps.

He ceded the lead to Lowndes without a fight at Griffins Bend on Lap 135, literally seconds after he informed the team on the radio as they dropped off the Mountain Straight hump that he had a cramp.

“Mate I’ve got the world’s f###ing biggest cramp in my leg of my life,” was the call back to the Erebus Motorsport crew.

Lowndes gapped the #9 Penrite ZB Commodore by almost two seconds before they reached the control line again, leading to several minutes of deliberation as to whether or not co-driver Luke Youlden would have to get back in.

Lowndes took his final pit stop before a decision was made to keep Reynolds in the car and provide him with electrolytes when he arrived in the lane.

That pit stop, however, only precipitated the final blow when Reynolds spun the rear wheels as a result of the cramps.

“So sorry man, my leg cramped on the clutch,” was the explanation back to the garage from Reynolds.

Having been hit with a drive-through penalty, the race was over as a contest but for the possibility of a Safety Car.

In his final Bathurst as a full-time driver, Lowndes brought the #888 Autobarn ZB Commodore home for a 6.29s win.

The 6:01:44.8637s victory, the seventh for himself and fifth for co-driver Steven Richards, broke a five-year-old race record and had Lowndes comparing it to the emotion of his 2006 triumph in the wake of Peter Brock’s death.

“(This means) A lot,” said an emotional Lowndes.

“It’s almost like the ‘06 back again.

“I think that these guys have been doing a hell of a job.

“We’ve had troubles all weekend with the steering. To pull it all together… I didn’t have air or anything, I didn’t have a cool suit, didn’t have any air in my helmet in my last few stints. I’m a little tired, but look it’s a credit to these guys.

“Absolutely,” he added in response to the question of whether or not the win was a dream come true.

“Richo and I came into this weekend with a lot of confidence on the back of Sandown, but you never know.

“We didn’t have quite the speed at the beginning on Friday, but we were hoping it would develop and the track would come to us.

“It’s a pity to Reynolds, Dave and all his guys; they were sort of the benchmark all weekend, so not sure what happened to him.

“When we got the lead, we didn’t want to give it up.”

Scott Pye/Warren Luff were runners-up for the second year straight in the #2 Boost Mobile ZB Commodore while Scott McLaughlin finished on the podium for the first time in the #17 Shell V-Power FGX Falcon which he shared with Alexandre Premat.

Youlden did eventually take over Car #9 with 16 laps remaining and brought it home in 13th.

The race until that point had been almost trouble-free for Erebus’ lead car (CLICK HERE for halfway report), with a run wide at Hell Corner for Youlden the only obvious blemish.

He was in control of the motor race at the halfway mark as he held a 1.93s lead over Tony D’Alberto with 81 laps down and 80 to go.

D’Alberto was slightly off-sequence in Fabian Coulthard’s #12 DJR Team Penske FGX Falcon but a Safety Car called on Lap 94, midway through a pit stop cycle, put everyone back together save for co-driver laps completed.

Reynolds led from Lowndes, Pye, Chaz Mostert (#55 Supercheap Auto FGX Falcon), and Shane van Gisbergen (#97 Red Bull HRT ZB Commodore), the latter of whom had co-driver Earl Bamber to thank for an impressive recovery stint after a very slow rotor change had dropped them into the midfield.

The Safety Car, called after Bryce Fullwood spun and beached the #35 Bigmate VF Commodore (Todd Hazelwood), also allowed Car #1 of Jamie Whincup/Paul Dumbrell to get back onto the lead lap.

The Triple Eight ZB Commodore, which had thrown a wheel off 54 laps earlier, came in a second time while covered by yellows to replace the front anti-roll bar and Whincup restarted a minute back in 20th.

Reynolds came under pressure from Lowndes early in the stint before he broke his two-year-old lap record with a 2:06.1492s on Lap 103.

Lowndes scraped the wall exiting Forrest’s Elbow on the same lap and while he survived, he drifted to as far as a touch over three seconds adrift in the next 10 laps.

Mostert was pressuring Pye for third as isolated light rain fell again, and nabbed the position when the 2017 race runner-up ran wide at Hell Corner on Lap 107.

Coulthard and McLaughlin had circulated in sixth and seventh since the restart but the former stepped aside to let his team-mate past on Lap 111.

Reynolds was the only driver who could lap in the sixes for a period of time but Lowndes got the lead back under two seconds before he pitted with 44 laps remaining.

The rest came in within a lap either side and once Reynolds was up to speed on warm tyres, he was around 1.4s ahead of Lowndes, who resumed second.

Pye managed to pass McLaughlin on the latter’s out lap but the 2017 pole-sitter still made a net gain of two positions in the cycle when he managed to at least stave off Mostert at Griffins.

Van Gisbergen was sixth from Garth Tander (#33 Wilson Security ZB Commodore), Coulthard, James Golding (#34 GRM ZB Commodore), and Nick Percat (#8 Repco Authorised Service ZB Commodore), while Whincup was 18th and just under a minute off the lead.

The top 10 ran in the same order, with the top two going blow-for-blow while they dropped the rest, until the dramatic twist with around 30 laps.

Erebus copped a second sucker punch on Lap 139, just before Reynolds’ fateful pit stop, when De Pasquale hit the wall at Reid Park and then went in again at Skyline, in the #99 ZB Commodore.

That was the other major drama as the race petered out and Lowndes cruised home for a fairytale victory.

Behind the podium, Mostert delivered a fourth for himself and James Moffat, while van Gisbergen finished fifth.

Filling sixth through ninth were Tander/Chris Pither, Percat/Macauley Jones, G/Richard Muscat, and Coulthard/D’Alberto.

Whincup salvaged 10th having started the final stint in 13th, while first Nissan was Rick Kelly/Garry Jacobson (#11 Castrol Altima), one position further back.

Andre Heimgartner/Aaren Russell (#7 Castrol Nissan Altima) was last car on the lead lap in 16th.

The only two DNFs were Michael Caruso/Dean Fiore (#23 Industrial Athlete Nissan Altima) after Fiore hit the wall at Hell Corner, and James Courtney/Jack Perkins (#25 Boost Mobile ZB Commodore) with an engine failure.

Van Gisbergen continues to hold the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship lead by a reduced margin of 19 points over McLaughlin.

The latter also has the honour of being the first Falcon across the line in what is likely the nameplates last Great Race.

The Pirtek Enduro Cup concludes at the Vodafone Gold Coast 600 on October 19-21.

Results: Race 25, 2018 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000

Pos Num Team/Sponsor Drivers Car Laps Race time
1 888 Autobarn Lowndes Racing C.Lowndes/S.Richards Holden Commodore ZB 161 6:01:44.8637
2 2 Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing S.Pye/W.Luff Holden Commodore ZB 161 6:01:51.1557
3 17 Shell V-Power Racing Team S.McLaughlin/A.Premat Ford Falcon FG/X 161 6:01:54.2718
4 55 Supercheap Auto Racing C.Mostert/J.Moffat Ford Falcon FG/X 161 6:01:55.1167
5 97 Red Bull Holden Racing Team S.van Gisbergen/E.Bamber Holden Commodore ZB 161 6:02:12.2846
6 33 Wilson Security Racing GRM G.Tander/C.Pither Holden Commodore ZB 161 6:02:14.8735
7 8 Repco Authorised Service Team N.Percat/M.Jones Holden Commodore ZB 161 6:02:21.4061
8 34 Wilson Security Racing GRM J.Golding/R.Muscat Holden Commodore ZB 161 6:02:22.0962
9 12 Shell V-Power Racing Team F.Coulthard/T.D’Alberto Ford Falcon FG/X 161 6:02:31.9757
10 1 Red Bull Holden Racing Team J.Whincup/P.Dumbrell Holden Commodore ZB 161 6:02:41.2971
11 11 Castrol Racing R.Kelly/G.Jacobson Nissan Altima 161 6:03:03.9376
12 5 The Bottle-O Racing Team M.Winterbottom/D.Canto Ford Falcon FG/X 161 6:03:19.8730
13 9 Erebus Penrite Racing D.Reynolds/L.Youlden Holden Commodore ZB 161 6:03:23.9683
14 78 Team Harvey Norman S.de Silvestro/A.Rullo Nissan Altima 161 6:03:32.6399
15 19 Tekno Autosports J.Le Brocq/J.Webb Holden Commodore ZB 161 6:03:37.2610
16 7 Castrol/Plus Fitness Racing A.Heimgartner/A.Russell Nissan Altima 161 6:03:39.6871
17 14 Freightliner Racing T.Slade/A.Walsh Holden Commodore ZB 160 6:03:10.0291
18 21 Team CoolDrive T.Blanchard/D.Wood Holden Commodore ZB 159 6:02:14.5870
19 230 Milwaukee Racing W.Davison/A.Davison Ford Falcon FG/X 159 6:03:01.4553
20 35 Bigmate Racing T.Hazelwood/B.Fullwood Holden Commodore VF2 159 6:03:34.2973
21 18 Preston Hire Racing L.Holdsworth/J.Bright Holden Commodore ZB 157 6:02:17.0104
22 56 RABBLE.club Racing R.Stanaway/S.Owen Ford Falcon FG/X 152 6:03:36.8977
23 6 Monster Energy Racing C.Waters/D.Russell Ford Falcon FG/X 148 6:03:12.6438
24 99 Erebus Penrite Racing A.De Pasquale/W.Brown Holden Commodore ZB 143 6:03:12.3729
DNF 23 Industrial Athlete Racing M.Caruso/D.Fiore Nissan Altima 69 2:39:14.1507
DNF 25 Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing J.Courtney/J.Perkins Holden Commodore ZB 33 1:11:35.8990

Drivers’ championship

Pos Driver Pts
1 Shane van Gisbergen 3276
2 Scott McLaughlin 3257
3 Jamie Whincup 2872
4 Craig Lowndes 2787
5 David Reynolds 2567
6 Chaz Mostert 2288
7 Fabian Coulthard 2282
8 Rick Kelly 2242
9 Scott Pye 2182
10 Tim Slade 1970
11 Nick Percat 1951
12 Garth Tander 1830
13 Mark Winterbottom 1778
14 Will Davison 1663
15 James Courtney 1596
16 Cameron Waters 1492
17 Michael Caruso 1489
18 Jack Le Brocq 1442
19 Andre Heimgartner 1394
20 Anton De Pasquale 1314
21 James Golding 1205
22 Lee Holdsworth 1107
23 Tim Blanchard 1088
24 Simona de Silvestro 1068
25 Richie Stanaway 1043
26 Todd Hazelwood 985
27 Steven Richards 558
28 Earl Bamber 498
29 Alexandre Premat 498
30 Warren Luff 480
31 Paul Dumbrell 456
32 James Moffat 396
33 Macauley Jones 393
34 Chris Pither 372
35 Tony D’Alberto 360
36 Luke Youlden 354
37 Garry Jacobson 324
38 Richard Muscat 282
39 Dean Canto 246
40 Alex Davison 240
41 Aaren Russell 240
42 Ashley Walsh 228
43 William Brown 204
44 David Russell 204
45 Jonathon Webb 198
46 Dale Wood 198
47 Bryce Fullwood 174
48 Steve Owen 168
49 Jason Bright 156
50 Alex Rullo 126
51 Jack Perkins 114
52 Kurt Kostecki 90
53 Dean Fiore 60

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