Stone Brothers Racing achieved its third Bathurst podium in as many years as a battling performance from James Courtney and David Besnard gave the Jeld-Wen Ford third place in the Supercheap Auto 1000.

The team's race had looked all but over in the middle stages, when the pit-crew suspected a broken rear roll bar, but the never-say-die attitude of team and drivers kept the #4 car in the race before a late charge from Courtney grabbed an unexpected result.

Starting from third, the youngster avoided the stationary Garth Tander and moved quickly through the frontrunners to lead by lap four. Showing great turn of speed, the #4 then pulled away from the field, giving Besnard a handy lead when Courtney pitted on lap 28.

Only a couple of laps into Besnard's stint, however, the blue-and-silver machine turned into a handful, tumbling down the order to 16th place as the race reached the 50-lap mark, before pitting with a shredded left front tyre and a suspected broken rear roll bar.

A quick check of the rear revealed nothing amiss, however, and, after some adjustments to assist with balance, Courtney rejoined the race, while the SBR crew looked to the damaged tyre for clues, revealing a slow leak as the cause of the handling problems.

While the #4 remained a handful, Courtney was able to continue on and, gradually, the race improved, with another two regular stops on laps 76 and 106 allowing the team to reclaim the lead on lap 129. However, there was still another challenge to overcome, as the Jeld-Wen Motorsport Falcon was out of sync with the rest of the field and still had to make its final fuel stop.

Courtney duly stopped on lap 137 and remained in the car, but the time spent taking on fuel and tyres meant that he relinquished the lead, and dropped back to 13th position.

Making the most of his fresher rubber, however, the former F1 test driver turned up the wick in the final 25 laps, producing a gritty charge through the field before finally catching and passing a tyre-troubled Steven Richards to claim third place on lap 160.

"I would have to say that I am a little surprised to be on the podium," Courtney admitted, "I thought the day was done when we thought we had broken the rear roll bar, but we were able to come back and it's a credit to the team, and to David, that they never gave up.

"I was pretty determined in that last stint. I double stinted and I was taking no prisoners, pushing like crazy to get up there and using up a lot of the brakes and tyres coming through. When I saw that 'Richo' was having problems though, I jumped at the opportunity to pass.

"It's a great achievement for SBR and myself to be on the podium three years in a row, and David two in a row. I can't thank him and the boys on the team enough."

Besnard admitted that it had possibly been the toughest he had found the 'Great Race', and wondered what could have been if not for the early problems.

"I'm really satisfied to be on the podium, but I guess, in some ways, James and I are also a little disappointed," he reflected, "This was probably our biggest chance for a win, and the Jeld-Wen Falcon was great, but, by the same hand, with the dramas we had early in the race, a podium result is fantastic.

"This would have to be the hardest Bathurst I've done and the bloke beside me drove amazingly. For SBR to have the faith in both of us, and for them to stick with me this year, it's great to bring home another podium."

Courtney's result puts him into seventh place in the V8 Supercar standings, but it was a different story on the other side of the SBR garage where, after also looking strong in the early stages, Shane van Gisbergen and co-driver Jonathon Webb ran into delamination problems.

After twice catching the problem before it led to a blow-out, Webb had worked his way into eleventh position when the safety car was deployed on lap 90 and the SBR crew took the opportunity to stop for fuel, tyres and pads. The #9 car had only rejoined the race for half a lap, however, when cold tyres and full tanks caught Webb out, hitting the wall at turn nine and suffering broken steering that ultimately stranded the SP Tools machine at the top of the mountain.

"Turning into the grate at turn nine, the car seemed to understeer and I missed the apex and ran out of road on the exit," a disappointed Webb reported, "We broke the steering and, although I tried to get it back to the pits, it had done just enough damage to put an end to our race."

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