THE SUN SHONE on the closing day of the 2015 Bathurst Motor Festival at Mount Panorama today with competitors, officials and fans alike relishing dry conditions after two days of soaking rain.
In typical Bathurst style, however, the drama didn’t abate with the rain with plenty of close racing and on-track incidents filtered throughout the day.
Rod Salmon returned serve on rival Neale Muston by winning the second CUE Sports Car enduro today in a race that featured two lengthy Safety Car periods.
The first was required at the end of the first lap following a hefty crash at Murray’s Corner when Robert Smith’s Ferrari 458 spun in the braking zone at the bottom end of Conrod straight.
The Ferrari spun across the sand trap and into the path of the Ginetta G50 driven by Andrew Richmond.
Though both drivers were uninjured, both cars were severely damaged and the damage required a lengthy clean-up.
Racing resumed briefly before the Safety Car was again called when Porsche driver Nick Marentis and Justin Hughes’ Lamborghini both crashed at turn seven, at the top of Mount Panorama.
Salmon then led the field to the line in the closing ten minute sprint, with Muston a full nine seconds behind in second place by the conclusion.
Brad Shiels and Andrew Macpherson finished third in the IMAK Porsche GT3R in a remarkable drive through the field after starting the race in 47th position – thanks to a DNF yesterday.
They completed their charge through the field in just six laps of green-flag racing and included jumping from 19th to third in the four-lap dash to the line.
Dylan Thomas took a commanding victory in the Shaw Vineyards Production Touring Cars enduro, leading from the outset to take his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X to a strong victory over Luke Searle and Barry Graham’s BMW M135.
Matt Holt’s third place ensured there were three different brands represented inside the top three at the finish of the safety-car free one hour race.
Thomas led the race from the outset and held a commanding lead following the completion of the pit stops – Searle charging hard to close the margin in the closing stint.
The BMW driver got to within 0.2 seconds of the Production Car lap record but still fell short at the end.
Brad Tilley completed his sweep of the Group N Historic Touring Car races after holding out the Chevy Camaro of Vince Macri in today’s 6-lap finale’.
Darryl Hansen finished third in his Ford Mustang with Michael Anderson and Jason Foley (Falcon GTs) finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.
Terry Lawlor won the third Heritage Touring Cars race to complete a clean sweep of victories for the ex-GIO Racing Nissan Skyline GTR – however it didn’t come as easy as his victories on Saturday.
Brian Sala grabbed an early lead in his Ford Sierra and headed the field on the opening lap before Lawlor was able to work his way past.
The Sierra dropped back in the closing stages but maintained his position to the line.
Garry Collins gave Holden fans something to cheer about in the third race, scrapping with Chris Stilwell (Ford Sierra) all race to grab third position.
Travis Lindorff held out Garry Hills to win the final Saloon Car race of the weekend, sealing the overall round victory in the process.
Wayne King finished third in today’s final race and for the weekend overall.
Anthony Macready and Matt Palmer split the honours in the NSW Road Racing Club’s Combined Sedans field – Macready winning race two this morning in strange circumstances.
The Nissan 300ZX driver was classified the winner however was also the reason for the race being red flagged after four laps when his car stopped on track.
With the results going back one lap, he was still classified the winner despite returning to the paddock on the back of a quick-lift truck.
Palmer won the final race in his ex-BJR V8 Supercar when he passed early leader Stephen Voight on the penultimate lap of the race – ensuring three winners from three races today.
In the pair of Porsche Club of NSW Regularity trials held today, Stephen Richardson (Porsche 911 Carrera) and Jamie Lovett (Porsche 964 RS) spit the honours.
Bathurst Motor Festival organisers announced a three-day event attendance of 10,221 for this year’s event, buoyed by the record number of more than 350 competitors entered this year.
BATHURST MOTOR FESTIVAL competitors have withstood driving rain and a soaked track to produce highly competitive motor racing at Mount Panorama today.
Persistent overnight rain lasted much of the day and though the track began to dry later in the day all of the races were held on a predominantly wet circuit.
Brad Tilley was the star of the Group N Historic Touring Cars today, winning two thrilling races in the massive combined field of Group Nc and Nb cars.
Tilley held out Daryl Hansen by just 0.2 seconds in the first race, before storming his way to the lead in the second after a slow start.
The Sydneysider – a winner at Bathurst in Touring Car Masters competition in the past – charged from third to first on the fourth lap of race two when he passed Hansen and Falcon GTHO driver Michael Anderson on the fourth of six laps.
He stormed away from the pack in the closing two laps to win comfortably.
Polesitter Dean Neville didn’t have quite such a strong day – finishing third in race one before a mechanical issue sidelined his Camaro on the first lap of race two.
Terry Lawlor won both Heritage Touing Car heats staged today, though had to withstand pressure from Sierra-bound Brian Sala before he could claim victory.
Lawlor won the opening race by five seconds but the second by just 0.8 after the Sierra launched a concerted attack on the leading Nissan in the closing laps.
Mark Eddy finished third in each race in his Nissan Skyline HR31 while Duncan MacKeller scored a fifth and fourth in the two races, respectively, in his Sierra.
Gary Collins was the best of the Aussie V8-brigade in his VL Walkinshaw Commodore with a fourth and a sixth place, while Chris Stilwell’s positive weekend in the ex-Dick Johnson Racing Ford Sierra continued with a pair of solid fifth-placed results.
The Heritage Touring Cars complete their weekend with a third and final race tomorrow morning.
Neale Muston won the first of two CUE Production Sports Cars enduro races this weekend, stopping at the earliest opportunity to elevate himself to the lead of the rain-effected race.
Muston started his Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car fifth and had dropped as low as 10th when he stopped, but was comfortably the fastest driver in the field as he survived persistent rain and two safety car periods – including one that ended the race – to take the victory.
Rod Salmon finished second in his Audi R8 LMS and Steven McLaughlin third in his Dodge Viper.
Greg Taylor led the race early in his Wall Racing Audi R8 however dropped to fifth – behind the Iain Pretty Ford GT40 – at the finish after stopping to hand the car over to co-driver Barton Mawer.
The pole-sitting IMAK Porsche of Andrew Macpherson and Brad Shiels lasted just four corners in the race, Macpherson ending his day in the wall at the Cutting on the opening lap.
Porsche Carrera Cup ace Nick McBride ran as high as third in his 997 Cup Car before stopping – ultimately finishing 7th – while Aaron Seton performed well on his Bathurst debut to score 10th outright.
Despite the wet conditions, Daniel Flanagan led home Keven Herben in a 1-2 result for HSV products in today’s Shaw Estate Production Touring Car enduro, defeating the favoured four-wheel-drive Mitsubishi’s in the process.
Dylan Thomas led a bulk of the early running, however emerged from his pit stop in 6th position and some 45 seconds behind the leader and his nearest rival, Jim Pollicina.
Taking advantage of having stopped behind the safety car, Keven Herben assumed the lead in his HSV but was rapidly chased down by fellow HSV driver, Daniel Flanagan in the closing 20 minutes.
Flanagan assumed the lead with 11 minutes to go as the track dried, though Herben maintained the pressure for the closing laps – the pair crossing the line split by just 0.8 seconds at the end of the race.
Dylan Thomas stormed to third place, comfortably setting the quickest lap of the race in his pursuit of the leaders. His father, David, finished fourth with Matt Holt’s HSV fifth.
The race was marred by a spectacular incident at The Chase on the opening lap that saw Zach Loscialpo roll his HSV six times after spinning into the sand trap. The driver was uninjured.
The Production Touring Cars race again tomorrow for a further one-hour enduro.
Shawn Jaimeson won the opening race in the NSW Road Racing Club combined sedans – however will have to work harder for continued success in tomorrow’s two final races.
The South Australian was penalised 10 grid spots for tomorrow’s second race after a Safety Car infringement mid-way through today’s six-lap affair.
Nissan 300ZX racer Anthony Macready finished second and Stephen Voight third in his Holden Commodore.
Polesitter Matt Palmer had technical issues prior the start and was forced to start at the rear of the field – but stormed through to fifth position at the end.
Richard Mensa (Porsche 997 GT3) and Andrew Purvis (Porsche 911 Carrera) won their respective Porsche Club of NSW Regularity trials today with a further two sessions to come tomorrow.
Finally, Travis Lindorff dominated the opening two Australian Saloon Car races today, beating Garry Hills and Wayne King in both sprint races today – though second and third swapped places in the two races, respectively.
Double national class champion Simon Tabinor finished fourth in both races with Travis Sharpe and Ashley Jarvis each appearing inside the top five today.
The Bathurst Motor Festival concludes tomorrow with a full program of race and regularity action on track. Admission to the venue is via bank note donation to the official event charity, Legacy. Live timing for all on-track activity is available via the Bathurst Motor Festival website at www.bathurstmotorfestival.com.au