CHAZ Mostert and Lee Holdsworth overcome mid-race tyre trouble to score victory in the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000 for Walkinshaw Andretti United.
Mostert led home the Tickford Mustang of Cameron Waters/James Moffat after biggest threat Shane van Gisbergen slowed from second place with right-front tyre trouble just six laps from the finish.
Brodie Kostecki/David Russell completed the podium despite Kostecki tagging the wall at Sulman Park while rounding up the slowing van Gisbergen, who pitted and rejoined to finish 18th.
AS IT HAPPENED: How the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000 unfolded
BY THE NUMBERS: The key stats from the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000
Van Gisbergen’s failure left Mostert to cruise to the chequered flag 3.7 seconds clear of Waters, scoring himself a second Great Race victory and a maiden triumph for impeccable co-driver Holdsworth.
The result snapped a 10-year victory drought for the Walkinshaw team at Mount Panorama; their last win came in 2011 while running under the Holden Racing Team banner.
Jamie Whincup/Craig Lowndes finished fourth in the former’s last full-time drive, while Bryce Fullwood/Warren Luff added to WAU’s joy in fifth.
The pole-sitting Mostert/Holdsworth car was the fastest throughout the 161-lap race, before a left-rear tyre failure on lap 49 with Mostert at the wheel erased an early lead and triggered major concern for their prospects.
But there was no repeat of the failure and a combination of lightning speed and clean, well-timed pit stops put Mostert in a direct fight with Triple Eight ace van Gisbergen for the final stints.
A long stanza of green-flag running was interrupted by a Safety Car period for an echidna on the track on lap 105; the race restarted with van Gisbergen leading Mostert and Whincup.
Team play from van Gisbergen allowed Whincup and the following Anton De Pasquale to pounce on Mostert shortly after the restart, but the WAU driver kept his composure and soon regained third.
A further Safety Car on lap 112 then triggered another round of pit stops that swung the race in Mostert’s favour; leapfrogging both Red Bull cars.
That was due to needing to take on less fuel than van Gisbergen, while Whincup dropped all the way back to 15th after double-stacking behind his teammate.
Van Gisbergen also dropped behind Kostecki but managed to clear the Erebus Commodore before the next Safety Car on lap 121, which none of the top runners used to pit.
After that restart Mostert and van Gisbergen knew they each had just one pitstop to go and put the hammer down, setting their best laps of the race to date.
Mostert though had the pace and stretched the lead out to 5.4s by the time the WAU Holden took its last stop 23 laps from the end, the Red Bull entry pitting one lap later.
There were two more Safety Cars – caused by a mechanical failure on De Pasquale’s Ford and a crash for an otherwise outstanding rookie Broc Feeney – but Mostert would not be denied.
“It was a pretty tough race. When we did that tyre, I thought it was going to be a tough slog,” said Mostert.
“But credit to the guys, this car has been speedy all weekend. We started pole and won the race.
“Every time you start on pole you never think you’re going to win it. Credit to this car and the team.
“After that tyre drama I changed my driving style to stay away from all the kerbs and still try and extract speed.
“It’s one of those things when you are leading the race with eight laps to go you start hearing all these funny noises in the car and you never think you’re going to get there.”
Victory for Holdsworth came in his 18th Bathurst start and his first since losing his full-time drive at the end of 2020.
“I honestly feel like it’s been a dream this week, it’s not going to sink in for a while I don’t think, it couldn’t have gone more to plan,” he said.
“We rolled out with such a quick car, Chaz has been quick, the team has given us such a great car, so thanks to those guys, they’ve been amazing.
“This one has been a long-time coming for me and I’m just stoked to get that one. We’re going to enjoy it.”
Neither DJR Mustang appeared to have the pace to threaten for victory; Will Davison/Alex Davison was its only finisher in 10th after the failure on the De Pasquale/Tony D’Alberto car struck while outside the top 10.
Sixth through ninth were filled by Nick Percat/Dale Wood, James Courtney/Thomas Randle (who recovered strongly from an early incident), Todd Hazelwood/Dean Fiore and Tim Slade/Tim Blanchard.
There had been early heartbreak for Erebus Motorsport’s Will Brown/Jack Perkins entry, which lost more than a dozen laps with powering steering trouble that struck less than 30 laps in.
Team 18’s Scott Pye/James Golding Commodore also struck steering trouble and retired after just six of the 161 laps on a grim day for Charlie Schwerkolt’s team.
RESULTS – 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000
|1||25||Chaz Mostert / Lee Holdsworth||WAU||Holden||80 laps|
|2||6||Cam Waters / James Moffat||Tickford||Ford||+3.7395s|
|3||99||Brodie Kostecki / David Russell||Erebus||Holden||+6.1448s|
|4||88||Jamie Whincup / Craig Lowndes||Triple Eight||Holden||+7.3448s|
|5||2||Bryce Fullwood / Warren Luff||WAU||Holden||+10.4073s|
|6||8||Nick Percat / Dale Wood||BJR||Holden||+13.274s|
|7||44||James Courtney / Thomas Randle||Tickford||Ford||+14.5753s|
|8||14||Todd Hazelwood / Dean Fiore||BJR||Holden||+16.4182s|
|9||3||Tim Slade / Tim Blanchard||BRT||Ford||+16.9603s|
|10||17||Will Davison / Alex Davison||DJR||Ford||+17.5201s|
|11||26||David Reynolds / Luke Youlden||KGR||Ford||+22.8753s|
|12||96||Macauley Jones / Chris Pither||BJR||Holden||+24.9126s|
|13||34||Jake Kostecki / Kurt Kostecki||MSR||Holden||+26.0605s|
|14||22||Garry Jacobson / Dylan O’Keeffe||Team Sydney||Holden||+27.3676s|
|15||5||Jack Le Brocq / Zak Best||Tickford||Ford||+31.8084s|
|16||18||Mark Winterbottom / Michael Caruso||Team 18||Holden||+35.9615s|
|17||4||Jack Smith / David Wall||BJR||Holden||+39.8953s|
|18||888||Shane van Gisbergen / Garth Tander||Triple Eight||Holden||+1m06.1673s|
|19||19||Fabian Coulthard / Jonathon Webb||Team Sydney||Holden||156 laps|
|20||9||Will Brown / Jack Perkins||Erebus||Holden||150 laps|
|21||7||Andre Heimgartner / Matt Campbell||KGR||Ford||159 laps|
|22||39||Broc Feeney / Russell Ingall||Triple Eight||Holden||142 laps|
|23||11||Anton De Pasquale / Tony D’Alberto||DJR||Ford||139 laps|
|24||35||Zane Goddard / Jayden Ojeda||MSR||Holden||112 laps|
|25||20||Scott Pye / James Golding||Team 18||Holden||6 laps|