11 October 2009
Tander, Davison win Bathurst
The action started from the onset, as a heavy shower drenched the circuit just before the start with the field starting on wet tyres and a safety car called on lap one.
Tander and Davison took control from Lowndes early on, but the dramas had just begun. Lowndes copped a drive-through penalty for a pit-lane infringement, shuffling him back through into the second half of the pack. All the while, Murphy and Skaife pushed and pushed at the front, claiming second place on lap 43 as rain threatened again.
Steven Richards had a cracking start and put his FPR Falcon in great shape, but disaster would soon strike the pair as, on lap 50, a loose battery ignited the car. Luckily, Winterbottom was near pit entry and pulled in with the flames soaring from the rear. Quick work by rival crews from Dean Fiore and the HRT outfits helped the fire team douse the blaze and get Winterbottom out, but the damage was too great for them to continue.
“I saw a bit of smoke and tried to get it back to the pits but, when it's on fire, you don't muck around, you just stop," a slightly heated 'Frosty' commented, "I was 100 metres short from showing the [FPR] guys what was going on. I have never been in a fire before, so you sort of think 's**t, what am I meant to do now, get out or press the fire bomb?'. You don't know what to do. You try to get out. It's not a nice thing to have, for sure.
“It's pretty scary to think that it could go up [in flames]. Luckily, I had been practicing my pit-stops to get out quick. It's not good. We didn't expect to be going home at lap 50.”
The rain struck again right on the midway point of the race. Jim Beam Racing's James Courtney was the biggest victim, when a touch with Alex Davison spun him around near the top of the mountain. He was left stranded and shuffled to the back of the pack, with the #17 car eventually coming home 24th and last of the classified finishers after co-driver Steven Johnson suffered a left front corner failure in the closing stages.
When Courtney spun at Reid Park, Rick Kelly slowed to avoid the clash - only to be hit from behind by Jonathan Webb in the skirmish. As a result of the contact, the diffuser on the Jack Daniel's Commodore became detached, resulting in a black flag and the car being brought into the pits for the bodywork to be torn from the back of the car.
As well as the loss of the diffuser, further rear end damage resulted in a change in rear wing angle, making the #7 almost undrivable through high speed sections of the circuit due to chronic oversteer.
“The car was just too damaged at the end to hold on to second," Kelly sighed, "I did the best I can, and I don't think I could have done much more, so it's just disheartening because the team really deserved something from today. There was just nothing we could have done. While the Jack Daniel's Commodore was in one piece, it was the quickest car I've had here in a long time - one that was definitely capable of winning the race."
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