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HomeNewsBathurstErebus, T8 showdown looms at Bathurst halfway mark

Erebus, T8 showdown looms at Bathurst halfway mark

EREBUS and Triple Eight have dominated the running in an eventful first half of the Repco Bathurst 1000.

The #99 Chevrolet of Brodie Kostecki and David Russell led after 80 of the race’s 161 laps from the #11 Dick Johnson Racing Ford of Anton De Pasquale and Tony D’Alberto, with the #97 Triple Eight Camaro of Shane van Gisbergen and Richie Stanaway third.

The polesitting car has spent most of the first half of the race engaged in a tense battle with the Triple Eight Camaros of van Gisbergen/Stanaway and Broc Feeney/Jamie Whincup.

The Safety Car has been called on three times so far, and changed the complexion of the race on each occasion as teams make different calls on fuel strategy.

Whincup led early after blitzing the start, beating Russell into Hell Corner and eventually edging away from the Erebus car across the first stint.

The first Safety Car period came on lap 27 when Kevin Estre locked a brake into Hell Corner and ended up buried in the gravel trap.

It happened right at the end of the first pitstop cycle, and shuffled the order between cars that elected not to stop, cars that had pitted several laps earlier and used fresher tyres to gain an undercut, and those that ended up having to pit under Safety Car.

The net result was Dylan O’Keeffe leading van Gisbergen and David Reynolds, although the latter soon had to serve a penalty for a blend line violation.

Van Gisbergen took the lead from the PremiAir Racing pilot soon after the restart and was soon tailed by Feeney, while Kostecki passed O’Keeffe a couple of laps later to move to third.

Race start at the 2023 Repco Bathurst 1000. Pic: Ross Gibb

The second Safety Car period came out on lap 38 after a collision with Scott Pye left Dale Wood’s #8 Brad Jones Racing Camaro bunkered at Murray’s Corner.

It prompted most of the field to pit. Triple Eight elected to double-stack its cars, which dropped the #88, now with Whincup aboard, down to 16th place.

Three cars chose not to pit, with Mark Winterbottom, Fabian Coulthard and Declan Fraser leading Kostecki, who’d jumped van Gisbergen in the pits due to needing less fuel through his later first stop.

Kostecki reassumed the lead soon after the restart and was followed by Stanaway, now behind the wheel of the #97.

The Erebus driver had a minor scare during this stint when a chunk of rubber debris fell out of his car’s front splitter, going under the left-front tyre at Griffins Bend.

Fearing a mechanical issue, Kostecki lost a second of his margin over Stanaway in the space of a lap, but soon began to edge away again.

Both cars pitted on lap 64, with Stanaway resuming ahead despite Triple Eight completing its compulsory brake pad change, having only put enough fuel in to get it out ahead of the Erebus car, which now had Russell aboard.

Behind them, Whincup had recovered to eighth place by the time of his next pitstop a couple of laps later.

The third Safety Car came out eight laps later when James Moffat crashed the #6 Mustang he shared with Cam Waters at the Dipper, triggering yet another series of pitstops.

But not for Russell, whom Erebus kept out, while Triple Eight once again brought both its cars into the pits, dropping the #88 back down the order for a second time.

Several big names are out of contention for victory.

In addition to Waters and Moffat’s exit, Craig Lowndes’ hopes of winning an eighth Great Race are over after two long pitstops to replace broken gearshift mounts.

The lead Brad Jones Racing car is also out following an engine failure in the Andre Heimgartner/Dale Wood Camaro just prior to half-distance.

BJR also had its Bryce Fullwood/Dean Fiore entry cop a drive-through penalty for a pitlane infringement, while teammates Macauley Jones and Jack Smith effectively took each other out with a costly tangle at the Chase.

Leaderboard as at lap 80 of the 2023 Repco Bathurst 1000

199Brodie Kostecki / David RussellErebusChevrolet80 laps
211Anton De Pasquale / Tony D’AlbertoDJRFord+1.6508s
397Shane van Gisbergen / Richie StanawayTriple EightChevrolet+1.6377s
435Cameron Hill / Jaylyn RobothamMSRChevrolet+7.2374s
526David Reynolds / Garth TanderGroveFord+8.038s
688Broc Feeney / Jamie WhincupTriple EightChevrolet+10.3275s
755Thomas Randle / Garry JacobsonTickfordFord+11.3235s
825Chaz Mostert / Lee HoldsworthWAUFord+15.4418s
923Tim Slade / Jonathon WebbPremiAirChevrolet+16.9091s
1034Jack Le Brocq / Jayden OjedaMSRChevrolet+18.0884s
115James Courtney / Zak BestTickfordFord+18.3094s
127Aaron Love / Jake KosteckiBRTFord+19.5631s
139Will Brown / Jack PerkinsErebusChevrolet+20.0238s
142Nick Percat / Fabian CoulthardWAUFord+20.3256s
1519Matthew Payne / Kevin EstreGroveFord+20.7548s
1614Bryce Fullwood / Dean FioreBJRChevrolet+22.4868s
1731James Golding / Dylan O’KeeffePremiAirChevrolet+22.7388s
1818Mark Winterbottom / Michael CarusoTeam 18Chevrolet+23.5957s
1956Declan Fraser / Tyler EveringhamTickfordFord+28.5293s
2017Will Davison / Alex DavisonDJRFord+30.7258s
213Todd Hazelwood / Tim BlanchardBRTFord+33.1327s
2298Simona De Silvestro / Kai AllenDJRFord+47.6981s
2320Scott Pye / Warren LuffTeam 18Chevrolet+1m19.7609s
244Jack Smith / Jaxon EvansBJRChevrolet+2 laps
25888Craig Lowndes / Zane GoddardTriple EightChevrolet+5 laps
2696Macauley Jones / Jordan BoysBJRChevrolet+10 laps
DNF6Cam Waters / James MoffatTickfordFord70 laps
DNF8Andre Heimgartner / Dale WoodBJRChevrolet68 laps
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