Bathurst 1000 race leader Jamie Whincup had been crushing Mount Panorama Circuit lap time records throughout the race in his No. 88 Red Bull Racing Holden, but then he caused an insane crash that led to the race being won by a car that never led a single lap all day.
The Bathurst 1000 ran 92 laps without any safety cars, but the last third of the race devolved into pure chaos, finally reaching its inevitable crescendo of madness in the last few laps.
Whincup ran into the side of the No. 33 of Scott McLaughlin as they reached the sharp left hand turn of The Chase—a big chicane originally built to slow down the end of the Conrod Straight. McLaughlin kept going on the grass, eventually rejoining as Garth Tander tried to make his way around Whincup. The three collided, sending Tander and McLaughlin into the wall.
For causing the melee, stewards gave Whincup a fifteen second time penalty to be applied to his finishing time after the race. Car No. 33 of Scott McLaughlin will be the subject of a post-race investigation for dangerous reentry.
Needless to say, Tander’s team principal at Walkinshaw Racing didn’t take kindly to his car being out of the race:
Making it worse for Whincup, the No. 15 Nissan Altima of Rick Kelly ate the wall hard after overcooking a turn and locking up his wheels at Forest Elbow, bringing out a last-minute safety car with only five laps to go.
Kelly hilariously was able to drive his stricken Altima out of the wall and into the pits, leaving behind a mess but getting plenty of cheers as his busted car made its way back around the circuit.
The race restarted as a four-lap mad dash to the checkered flag. But wait! Then the No. 7 of Todd Kelly got stuck off track at The Chase with three laps remaining, bringing out a local double-yellow-flag zone to slow down the field as it passed his beached car.
Kelly got stuck out in the sand outside The Chase after contact with James Courtney. Stewards determined it was too late in the race to put the field behind yet another safety car, hence the local yellows.
Whincup was unable to get a 15 second gap on the rest of the field with everyone bunched up behind him from the safety car. The fifteen-second penalty ultimately moved Whincup down to an eleventh place finish, making this the third year in a row Whincup has screwed himself out of a Bathurst win.
That wasn’t the race-ending battle to watch, though. Known madman Shane Van Gisbergen in the other No. 97 Red Bull Racing Holden was all over the rear end of Will Davison’s No. 15 Tekno Autosports Holden Commodore VF from the restart. The two cars were in an intense battle for second place, which with Whincup’s penalty looming, was really the battle for the race win.
The Chase was too close to the race’s finish line. Van Gisbergen may have been able to make a move there, but couldn’t because of the yellow flagged slow zone in effect. Van Gisbergen got closer once the cars neared the finish and tried to make a move around Davison, but ultimately couldn’t get around in time.
Davison nor his co-driver Jonathon Webb didn’t lead a single lap of the race, but ended up winning because of Whincup’s penalty and Davison’s ability to fend off the No. 97. The No. 15 Tekno Autosports Holden had started the race from 17th place, and ultimately won by one of the smallest margins ever at Bathurst: just 0.1434 seconds over Van Gisbergen.
Making it an even sweeter win is the fact that Tekno is one of the smaller teams on the grid, without the resources of many of the big players. So, of course there was a shoey. SHOEY!
UPDATE: Triple Eight Race Engineering—the team behind Whincup’s car—have lodged a protest against Whincup’s 15-second penalty, per Supercars. Supercars writes:
The crux of Triple Eight’s appeal centres on an argument that levying the time penalty is inconsistent with the system of punishment that has been explained to teams this year, which includes three levels of offence and the ability to redress an error by handing back the position taken in the passing move.
Whincup attempted to slow and cede his position to McLaughlin, but then was hit by Tander’s car as McLaughlin was trying to rejoin the track surface.
UPDATE #2 [10/17]: Triple Eight’s appeal has been dismissed, per Racer. The results stand as-is.
While the results remain unchanged, McLaughlin was assessed a 25-point penalty for unsafe reentry from the incident involving Whincup and Tander, according to Supercars.