The most prestigious round of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship produced an upset win as David Reynolds took victory in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, holding on as the sport’s big names imploded around him.
Reynolds and unheralded co-driver Luke Youlden scored a win for the little guys and flamboyant team owner Betty Klimenko in their Penrite Racing Commodore in one of the most bizarre, rain-dominated races in Supercars history.
Mobil 1 HSV Racing’s Scott Pye and Warren Luff were second and new Supercars Championship leader Fabian Coulthard third with his teammate Tony D’Alberto in the Shell V-Power Falcon.
A kangaroo and a rock made an appearance during the race, both prompting safety cars and adding to the strategy intrigue unfolding in the damp conditions.
The turning point came at the critical time when the rain stopped and the track began to dry. Some teams made the gamble to go on wets and others stayed on dry tires. The last 30 laps then turned into a war of attrition and survival.
The big names fell one by one, and on one corner as a bunch of three. Scott McLaughlin was the first to go with engine damage, Jamie Whincup with the same, Garth Tander, Chaz Mostert and Cam Waters took each other out and Shane Van Gisbergen fought back from multiple episodes to finally fall with 10 laps to go.
Supercars’ first female driver, former IndyCar racer Simona de Silvestro, had a disappointing tale of her own. In the closing stages of the race the Swiss was on target to become the first female in the history of the Bathurst 1000 to finish inside the top 10, but spun off at the final corner and slammed into the wall.
Reynolds, who had hung in all day with barely a scratch on his Commodore, emerged from the pack when it mattered. He praised his co-driver and his team who set the scene since his fastest practice lap on Thursday.
“For a bloke who races once a year, he’s not bad,” Reynolds said of Youlden. “We have had this same core team for a while now. I love this sport for working with them and I love my job for working with them. It just makes it so enjoyable.
“I have been wanting to pay them back but we haven’t had a lot of luck so this is now the icing on the cake.”
Pole winner McLaughlin was out of contention by half-distance, with an undiagnosed engine problem after he and co-driver Alex Premat struggled all day. They nursed an injured car for lap after lap before it eventually gave up. The failure had serious consequences on McLaughlin’s championship hopes.
Coulthard has regained the Supercars championship lead by 11 points over Whincup. McLaughlin now sits 97 points behind Coulthard with Mostert in fifth and Van Gisbergen in sixth heading into the next round, the Vodafone Gold Coast 600 in two weeks, the final event of the PIRTEK Enduro Cup.