Another Bathurst 12 Hour race has been run and won. Today, for the betterment of the event, it was another great chapter in the GT era.
Sometimes it seems as though the Safety Car will always conspire to deliver last minute sprints for the line, as the increasingly harsh concrete barriers close in around the snaking ribbon atop Mount Panorama. The clichÃ©d chat of close fought wins after yet another endurance epic will inevitably fill the airwaves and column inches.
And yet, it seems impossible to ignore the clichÃ© that, today, motor racing was the real winner. Craig Lowndes, drafted in by the Maranello Motorsport team to replace the seemingly irreplaceable and equally likeable Allan Simonsen, steered the charismatic Ferrari home with a young kid keeping him honest all the way to the line.
Of course, 20 years ago we saw a finish not too dissimilar to this at the same venue with Lowndes in the junior role. Who played the senior part? John Bowe, the wily old master in the pit garage today cheering Lowndes towards victory.
Lowndes and Bowe, Bathurst legends each, and Simonsen no stranger to Mount Panorama’s history books, despite never tasting the ultimate success. It was a perfect mix from not so perfect circumstances, coming together to deliver a fairy tale result. The race stewards even stepped in to play villain once or twice.
The efforts of Mika Salo and Peter Edwards can’t be ignored, either. Well done them. Well done all.
We hope they’re still enjoying the spoils of this victory while individually taking quiet moments alone to pay their own respects to Simonsen.
[Pics: Joel Strickland Photographics]