While the story of Luke Searle and Paul Morris’ victory at the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour after an epic battle with 2016 winners Chaz Mostert and Nathan Morcom will be spoken about for days, it wasn’t the only story of victory in the paddock for the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour.
Seven classes in total were contested across the six hour event around Mount Panorama, and it was also the opening round of the Australian Production Car Series.
In taking the outright win, Searle and Morris also claimed the A1 class victory.
In the other classes, victories went to the #53 Holden VY (A2 – 12th outright), #11 BMW335i (B1 – 8th outright), #24 Holden VE (B2 – 27th outright), #40 BMW 130i (C – 18th outright), #3 Toyota 86 (D – 17th outright) and #23 Ford Falcon AU (I – 21st outright).
For Trevor Symonds, Paul Lane and Scott Bargwanna, the A2 victory in the #53 came ahead of Daniel Flanagan and Marrick Malouf (#51 Holden VY2-HSV – 32nd outright) and the #16 Holden VY CSV Monaro Mondo GT of Stephen Hodges, Sean Hudspeth and Robert Coulthard (48th outright).
“We are ecstatic, we are just so thrilled to win this,” Symonds said.
“We were here last year and we didn’t get to the end of the race ... we came here this year knowing we had a good car and to get to the end and finish first in our class is fantastic.”
“It sure does feel great. Any victory around Bathurst is fantastic and to come here and do some more laps and be amongst this Symonds Motorsport is great,” Bargwanna said.
Jack Perkins and Leigh Burgess took their Class B1 victory despite going a lap down when a safety car did not fall their way.
Second place in class was the #15 Subaru Impreza WRX Sti of Benjamin Kavich, Michael Kavich and Kieren Pilkington (10th outright) while the #48 BMW 135i of Scott Gore, Patrick Galang and Keith Bensley (13th outright) finished third.
“It was a fantastic race and a very long, tough six hours,” Burgess said.
“We were a little bit unlucky with the safety car - we went down a lap as we had to pit under green racing, so we dropped a lap unfortunately.
Ideally a top five finish is what we would have liked but to be first in class and eighth outright and to have the car back in one piece makes for a fantastic race. The aim is to do a few more rounds so we will get out and have another run shortly.”
In the run to the B2 class victory, the #24 allowed driver Brian Walden to celebrate his retirement with a win alongside co-drivers Michael Auld and Richard Bloomfield.
The #24 Holden VE SSV-Redline beat home the second-placed in-class #76 Holden VE SSV-Redline of Williams and Bilksi (34th outright).
“It is [special to win on my last event], it is good to go out on a high, they have been calling me Johnny Farnham all weekend, but I do believe I won’t be coming back,” Walden said.
“The day was great, we had a lot of problems leading up with drive shafts we kept on doing them but we put the old second-hand ones that we ran last year in and the car ran faultlessly all day.”
The Class C win went to Super2 star Todd Hazelwood and Bathurst-stalwart Robert Rubis, with the pair being joined on the class podium by Ric Shaw, Cox and Michael Sloss (#35 Mazda RX8 – 22nd outright) and Nicholas Cox and Adam Gosling (#43 BMW 130i – 25th outright).
“This feels incredible ... I have done two 24 hours, about four 12 hours, a number of two hours and a lot of support racing and it is just the best feeling in the world to stand up there and have a class-winning trophy in Class C. To race with a young gun like Todd Hazelwood is just fantastic, it has been absolutely brilliant and I couldn’t ask for more," Rubis said.
“Coming into this weekend, I had never driven the car before, hadn’t met any of my team members, didn’t even know Robert who I was driving with so to walk away with a class win is really special and to stand on that Bathurst podium for the first time is something I will never forget ... I can’t thank the team and Rob enough for doing a fantastic job and making it all happen,” Hazelwood said.
A tight race-long battle in Class D saw the victory go to Chris Reeve and Chris Sutton, while Mark Caine and Jimmy Vernon were second in class in their #37 Toyota 86 (19th outright). Third in class was the #39 Sparesbox Toyota 86 of David Bailey and Matthew Thewlis (29th outright).
“That was so nerve-wracking ... we won it last year - Mark Caine was driving with me last year and then Jimmy bought one of my cars, so I know exactly what he has under him – exactly what I have!” Reeve said.
“I am pinching myself, it is not real just yet!” Sutton said.
“I thought we had a really good chance coming into this but I am just a rookie driver for Bathurst and these endurance races so I didn’t really know what to expect, but hey - winner, winner, chicken dinner! You possibly will [see me at future rounds], I won’t let the cat out of the bag just yet!”
Class I delivered plenty of thrills across the race, with John McCleverty, Bradley Zacka and Michael Zacka running a convincing race to lead when it counted – finishing ahead of brothers Ashley and Dion Jarvis (#22 Ford Falcon AU – 23rd outright) and Warren Trewin and Scott Cameron (#71 Holden Commodore VT – 35th outright).
“We couldn’t be happier,” McCleverty said.
“Like anyone else, you grow up as a child watching Bathurst and watching your heroes. It is a privilege to race here and to not only race and participate but then to win is a bit like a dream come true. Our class like all is really very competitive so I can’t say that we expected to win, but we knew we were competitive and had a strong car and we knew we had really strong preparation.”
For full race results, go to http://bathurst6hour.com.au/event-info/results
The Australian Production Car Series' next round is part of the Shannons Nationals round at Winton Raceway, on 9-11 June.