With a touch over 30 minutes left to run in the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour here’s a run down of what’s happened since our last update.
The race ushered in its tenth hour with the seventh Safety Car period in order to collect the stricken #17 Ginetta.
With 222 laps behind them Mika Salo lead the race in the #88 Maranello Motorsport Ferrari from the #63 Erebus Mercedes and the #37 McLaren. Joining them on the lead lap was the #84 Mercedes.
Several cars pitted during the Safety Car period including the #63 Mercedes and when racing resumed there were 19 cars between the race leading Ferrari and Shane van Gisbergen in the McLaren.
The young Kiwi wasn’t able to make up too much ground until lap 235 when the Safety Car was sent out again to salvage the #59 MARC Focus GTC, which had been punted into the wall at Forrest’s Elbow by the #3 Audi squeezing past on the inside.
The race leaders came in on lap 237 while the Safety Car still controlled the field handing the race lead to the #63 Erebus Mercedes. Shane van Gisbergen handed the McLaren over to Andrew Kirkaldy so he could step back in for the final charge to the line at the next round of pit stops.
On lap 240 the Safety Car came in with five cars on the lead lap: #63 Mercedes, # 88 Ferrari, #37 McLaren, #84 Mercedes and #3 Audi.
Eight laps later the leading trio were nose to tail. The McLaren had dropped to fourth and Greg Crick in the #63 Erebus Mercedes lead from Mika Salo on the #88 Ferrari. While they were scrapping Max Buhk in the #84 HTP Mercedes closed in and managed to take the lead, first overtaking Salo into Murray’s Corner and repeating the dose on Crick for the lead the following lap.
Mika Salo, now in P3, wasn’t done with and managed to fight his way past Greg Crick to reclaim P2 on lap 251 with 1 hour 40 minutes left to race.
On lap 256 car #63 came into the pits and young Jack Lebrocq took the wheel. Ten laps later new tyres and a refreshed Shane van Gisbergen were installed on the #37 McLaren for the run home, with just over one hour to left to race.
The two lead cars came in on lap 268. Craig Lowndes hopped into the #88 Ferrari and Harold Primat took charge of the #84 Mercedes for the race to the flag. All was going well until the #84 had brake issues with its car at the front right corner, it lost about 45 seconds and handed the lead to Lowndes.
By lap 271 the #63 Mercedes was in the lead and came in for its final stop for new tyres and fuel. Will Davison took the wheel rejoining the track just behind the #84 Mercedes.
By 5:35pm with 40 minutes left the run the cars are on the 278th lap and Shane van Gisbergen dived into the pits for a splash and dash and you’d think without a Safety Car that will be their race done.
Craig Lowndes in the #88 Ferrari now has a 25 second lead over the #84 Mercedes and a 30 second gap back to the #63 Erebus Mercedes. Van Gisbergen is charging hard but has a 62 second deficit to make up. Can the leading trio make it to the 6:15pm chequered flag without another fuel stop?