THE Peugeot 405 Super Tourer at the centre of the dramatic conclusion to the 1997 AMP Bathurst 1000 is on its way to a racetrack return, courtesy of its original driver.
Originally raced by Peugeot’s factory team in the British Touring Car Championship in 1995, this chassis and a sister car came to Australia for 1996 where they raced in the Australian Super Touring Championship in Foxtel colours, before both cars were purchased by Tony Newman for 1997.
This particular car is the one Newman and Kiwi racer Dwayne Bewley campaigned at that year’s Bathurst 1000, the first of two held for two-litre Super Touring machinery.
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Bewley was at the wheel in the closing laps when the engine failed coming into The Chase.
“I thought, well, let’s let it cool down – the engine might have only just nipped – and try to start it on the last lap and try and drive it across the line,” he told V8 Sleuth in 2019.
“I hit the button and there was … nothing. She was dead. Then I gave it a bit of a push to try and get it to roll down pit lane, but I got a bit of a roll on.
“I tried to crash-start it but it didn’t start, so I thought I’d roll down to the last corner and roll across the finish line.
“Of course, you don’t realise it, but there’s a bit of an incline to the finish line.”
With all the other cars having crossed the line to complete the race, the TV coverage was focused on Bewley’s efforts to push the car uphill to cross the finish line.
Although he eventually made it – to the cheers of both the crowd and the TV commentary team featuring the late Murray Walker – Bewley’s efforts were in vain, as the car could not be classified as a finisher.
The car continued racing in the ASTC in the seasons that followed but has since returned to England, where it is now being prepared for a return to racing.
In a twist of fate, the restoration is being carried out by Patrick Watts – the car’s original driver in 1995!
Watts, who himself owns a Peugeot 406 Super Tourer that he raced in Australia in 1999, revealed on social media that his PW Racing outfit is performing the restoration for the car’s current owner.