It’s here. 161 laps around Mount Panorama, 1000 kilometers in all. The big race – the 2022 Bathurst 1000 – starts at 11:15 a.m. AEDT. And it’s absolute chaos from the start in a crazy first-lap incident.
In a gruesome start, pole sitter Moffat all but stalled on the start line, allowing Lee Holdsworth to slip past. Fabian Coulthard exploded on the inside and took two places to move up to second place.
The cars came through the first corner safely, only to crash into each other going up the Mountain Straight.
Jack Perkins – Will Brown’s co-driver – was criticized by veteran Jamie Whincup, sending them running in circles. Perkins recovered a shunt from Dale Wood.
Perkins was sent back to the pits and immediately jacked up for major repairs.
Will Brown said: “Who knows whose fault it was? I think it was just everyone going through the water.
“We got away with it quite lightly in the end.”
Zak Best, Tom Randle’s co-pilot, found the wall while trying to avoid the chaos. The car had to be towed to the pits. Mark Winterbottom and Jack Kostecki also limped back to the pits after hitting shunts.
A safety car was immediately called.
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RACE CENTRE: LIVE TIMES AND FULL SESSION RESULTS
What now for Bathurst? | 02:22
NO MORE NEWS
SHOOTOUT CANNED: Weather sees 44-year-old’s first ax as grid decided
DRIVERS REACT: “Good decision” to end Shootout … but the stars are gutted
FULL GRID: Confirmed start order as locked start time
It was already an epic edition of Australia’s biggest motorsport weekend. From returning veterans lighting up the track to jaw-dropping falls, to wild weather causing absolute mayhem and the first cancellation of the Top 10 Shootout in its 44-year history. This weekend had it all.
Sunday is expected to kick things up a notch yet again, as 28 driver pairs – 56 drivers in all, including seven rookies – vie for the King of the Mountain title.
“I think there are 15 combinations that can win today,” Mark Skaife said on Fox Sports.
The grid is established, based on Friday’s qualifying order after the Shootout is cancelled.
Cameron Waters, runner-up in the last two editions, starts from pole (along with James Moffat), but is only the bookmakers’ second favorite behind 2020 winner Shane van Gisbergen. The reigning Supercars champion and runaway series leader will start seventh after a three-place grid penalty for causing a qualifying crash.
AUDACIOUS EREBUS CALL
Erebus managed to get all three cars into the Top 10 – Will Brown, Brodie Kostecki and the generic entry of Richie Stanaway.
But on Sunday morning, Erebus boss Barry Ryan said the team would make a bold strategic call from the start.
“The three cars, the co-drivers will start. We’ll do the winning strategy and it’s pretty clear what it is.
He added that the team was anticipating mostly dry conditions.
“We’re pretty much a dry setup, all the way… We’re ready for both conditions, but I think it’ll be dry all day.”
Running legend Russell Ingall said press company: “The best strategy you can have is to let your co-pilot go because you want your main pilot to finish.”
James Courtney, who will leave his co-driver Zane Goddard to start the Great Race, fully supported the decision.
“It’s a big day. Bathurst fans are exploding! For people to be here through thick and thin, through all the mud, it’s amazing. I can’t wait to get started,” he told FoxSports.
“Zane starts. I said to him, ‘You’ve done this a thousand times. Do everything you’ve done your whole career and you’ll be fine.” The little guy is a little nervous, but we’ll get him over the line.
Veteran driver Lee Holdsworth gave commentator Mark Skaife a little dig as he outlined his strategy for leaving the start line.
“It’s very difficult, I haven’t made a training start since last year!” he said before the race.
“You don’t want to burn the clutch, as Skaifey knows. You want to get some heat to get that bite off.
Holdsworth was referring to Skaife’s infamous 2006 race that ended in utter heartbreak after he couldn’t leave the start line before losing car speed on the straight mountain where he crashed. then got hit from behind and pushed into the wall – his run ending on the opening lap.
Race control issued a warning to all teams before the start of the race with water accumulating to the right of the first corner – on the racing line at Hell Corner.
The weather will play a crucial role, as it has done all weekend. The Bureau of Meteorology predicts a 60% chance of rain, with only 0-2mm chance. Sunday started in the pouring rain at 7.30am.
It’s a great result after the cancellation of the Top 10 Shootout. The rain should ease during the day and may even dry up before the start of the race.
Speaking on the Fox Motorsport cover, Mark Larkham said everything we thought we knew before the race went out the window.
“What do we know about this event? Form guide, can’t help you. This is the first time that there is none,” he said.
“Car setup? Sorry, can’t help you. It’s all over the shop. Strategy? No idea.
FIRST ACCIDENTS AS A GREAT WARNING SIGN
The first race of the day delivered an ominous warning of what could happen for the rest of the day. As the rain poured down the mountain, the Super Utes began racing in safety car conditions. But the green flag was waved and the action started in earnest – before ending in tragedy.
Craig Dontas, retiring in his Ryco 24.7 Racing Mitsubishi Triton, slid off the top of the mountain on lap three and crashed into the wall in slippery conditions.
Dontas, 42, has been a mainstay in SuperUtes competition, having stood on the podium at the Bathurst round in the past.
And there was more drama in the Porsche Carrera Cup, with the Chase crashing several cars into the sand, while the lap’s wet and muddy first corner also saw a bunch of wild shunts.
‘Better be safe’: SPECIAL STAR WARNING
There are wonderful stories all along the grid. But for James Courtney, this weekend is unlike any other. After marrying last week in a Brisbane Registry wedding, his new wife Tegan is expecting their first child together in two weeks.
Tegan, a makeup artist, is staying on the Gold Coast – and desperately hoping her husband won’t miss the birth of their child.
“Sucks I’m not there this time, I’m spitting,” Tegan said, per The Daily Telegraph.
“But that’s OK. I would rather give birth on the Gold Coast than in Bathurst, so I just have to choose that over going to Bathurst.
“But I would be quite upset if he comes when James is in Bathurst,” she added.
“I joke with him and say, ‘Don’t come home’ if I had the baby while he’s in Bathurst.”
His biggest concern is staying calm while watching the race.
“I’m like, ‘You better be really careful,'” Tegan said.
“I keep telling him to drive carefully and don’t do anything stupid. It also doesn’t help with all the rain that’s forecast.
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