Sport Motorsport Will Davison wins Bathurst after late drama in classic Great Race
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Will Davison wins Bathurst after late drama in classic Great Race

Will Davison (left) and Jonathan Webb
Will Davison (left) and Jonathan Webb celebrate after the Bathurst 1000. Photo: AAP
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Holden’s Will Davison and Jonathan Webb have won the 2016 edition of Bathurst 1000 after a fiery, dramatic finish.

On a day where the Great Race remembered Peter Brock 10 years on from his death, Davison finished ahead of championship leader Shane van Gisbergen and Nick Percat to clinch a second title on Mount Panorama.

It came after a late, dramatic three-way crash involving Garth Tander, Scott McLaughlin and Jamie Whincup, which handed Whincup a 15-second penalty after leading for much of the race.

The race was turned on its head with less than 15 laps to go, as Whincup came hard through the corner on the inside track and completely wrong footed McLaughlin, resulting in the three-car pile-up that knocked McLaughlin and Tander out of the race and ended Whincup’s hopes with a big penalty.

After edging McLaughlin off the track, Whincup slowed down to redress the time as McLaughlin returned to the tarmac, but Tander came hard through the middle, wiping both McLaughlin and his own Holden out as he crunched into the barrier.

It left Davison and van Gisbergen in the clear for a fuel tank-defying, nail-biting finish, which Davison won on an empty tank for the smallest winning margin in the race’s history.

“I’m honestly speechless. I’m not gonna give much here because that was, like, so stressful,” Davison told Channel Ten.

“I knew if I lifted to save, like, any more fuel, I knew Shane was going to be in there. It coughed into the last corner – I ran out of fuel as I crossed the line.

“Started 17th, but we knew we were quick. Jonathon Webb said he had a good feeling this weekend. I don’t know. Some things are weird. I can’t believe the way that panned out.

“To do it with such a little team, in Tekno, is just phenomenal. Webby did an amazing job. This is real special, to cross that line. Thanks to … all the team. We’ve got the Holden over the line.”

Whincup and Dumbrell dominate early stages

Early on, Whincup and co-driver Paul Dumbrell led by 19.7 seconds after 40 laps, as the Great Race saw out an eventless opening 90 laps.

Whincup broke the all-time lap record at Bathurst with a searing 2:07.09, only for Andrew Jones of Brad Jones Racing to hit a barrier on the 92nd lap, bringing out the first safety car.

Whincup and Dumbrell’s sizeable lead was reduced to nothing as the chasing pack bunched up, before a second safety car was brought out when James Moffat’s engine gave up after more than 100 laps.

Jamie Whincup leads the start of the Bathurst 1000.
Jamie Whincup leads the start of the Bathurst 1000. Photo: AAP

A third safety car, following Andre Heimgartner stalling in the middle of the track, brought Scott Pye into the mix as he found time to get in the extra pit stop he required for the race, having briefly pushed ahead of Whincup.

Chaz Mostert, the 2014 winner, was forced to retire from the race soon after as engine trouble killed his tilt at a second title, after defending champion Craig Lowndes saw his bid effectively crippled by mechanical issues.

With fuel saving the name of the game in the late stages, Whincup went for broke, breaking his lap record again with a 2:06.8165 in an effort to get a sizeable lead on his pursuers.

Aiming for a 32-second lead by lap 134 before pitting, Whincup crushed each sector as he looked to race at qualifying sprint speed, though his tyres were wearing quickly beneath the strain.

Whincup at fault as Tander, McLaughlin wipe out

Relief for Whincup came as Mark Winterbottom’s front brakes failed on Forrest’s Elbow and bogged his smoking car in the sand, ending his race. The safety car gave leader Whincup the chance to pit and change tyres, ahead of van Gisbergen.

Fuel was now Coulthard and McLaughlin’s major concerns as projections had them running out of gas two laps and a single lap before the finish respectively.

Tander looked to be his immovable self in third place as Whincup struggled to find space to squeeze past, only for the Red Bull driver to ghost past on the inside track of a corner with 13 laps to go.

But Whincup threw away all his hard work as the three-car pile-up saw him cop a 15-second penalty that guaranteed he would finish without a podium place.

Rick Kelly in 15th spot saw his wheels lock up before ploughing into a barrier, calling out another safety car to all but blot out Whincup’s fading hopes. It also ended any fuel worries for Davison and van Gisbergen.

The race was then on with four laps to go. Van Gisbergen tried to overtake Davison through a tight corner but pulled out at the last minute as space narrowed.

With their fuels stretched to the limit, Davison – who had floated around second place for large portions of the race – maintained his lead through the double-yellow-flag zone, before skirting over the finish line on an empty tank.

-ABC

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