2014 Bathurst 12hr update: Hour 9

2014 Bathurst 12 Hour

Hour 7 began with the #1 Erebus Mercedes leading from the #37 McLaren and the #88 Maranello Motorsport Ferrari. They were the only cars on the lead lap.

The ambient temperature began to heat up making it tougher for both cars and drivers. It was 34°C ambient temperature, while track temps climbed above 60°C by the end of the ninth hour.

Mika Salo at the wheel of the #88 Ferrari pushed his case for victory by overtaking the McLaren with a three-wide overtaking move on Conrod Straight and briefly assumed the lead on lap 157 during pit stop rotations.

On lap 164 a clumsy overtake on a slower car by the #63 Erebus Mercedes in the Esses lost its right fender. The car was in P5 at the time and came in for a routine pit stop and went straight back out with no real fuss.

As the race began its eighth hour the Safety Car came out for the sixth time after the #35 Porsche came to a stop on track just after Griffins Bend. The lead cars took the opportunity to pit and resumed with the #1 Mercedes ahead of the #37 McLaren.

The shape of the race took a dramatic turn in the ninth hour when the leading #1 Mercedes came in for a routine pit stop. Everything seemed okay, the car was cleared to go and it stuttered a few metres down pitlane. The car was rolled back and eventually into its garage where a problem with the right rear brake was attended to, which included replacing the brake rotor.

After 12 minutes the #1 rejoined the race but was now six laps behind the new race leader the #37 McLaren with all hopes of a podium finished appearing to be dashed.

On lap 196 the McLaren entered the pits and the #88 Ferrari assumed the lead of the race. Shortly afterwards, on lap 200, Craig Lowndes was black flagged in the #88 Ferrari. The team was given a drive through penalty for leaving a pit board in the pitlane after the car had exited the pits.

A total of 32 seconds was lost, but thankfully for Lowndes he had a comfortable lead and resumed the race with a one minute gap back to second.

It was the second drive through for the #88 car after Peter Edwards was pinged for exceeding the 40km/h pitlane speed limit by 2km/h.

On lap 205 the #65 Erebus Mercedes breathed new life into the race by getting on the lead lap and overtaking the #37 McLaren for P2.

A tweet from Shane van Gisbergen seemed to indicate the #37 car might have some clutch and/or gearbox issues.

As the race started its tenth hour the #63 Mercedes took the lead on lap 219 during pitstop rotations and questions remain over its legibility to race with that right fender missing. There’s no loose bodywork and the car has been running like that for almost 60 laps.