Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife have won the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, leading home team-mates Jamie Whincup and Steve Owen in a 1-2 finish for Team Vodafone.
Lowndes and Skaife were strong throughout the day, running consistently in the top five, but it took until lap 117 to take the lead for the first time, passing long-time race leaders Lee Holdsworth and David Besnard.
A safety car bunched the field up with just over 25 laps remaining, but a lapped car helped Lowndes to pull clear despite everyone having to watch fuel consumption. But another safety car when third-placed Will Davison crashed with nine laps remaining bunched the field up for a sprint to the flag.
The race restarted with six laps remaining, Whincup chasing hard but not quite close enough to make a move. In the end, the Team Vodafone teammates lined up to take the checkered flag in a formation finish, the first 1-2 at Bathurst since the Holden Dealer Team in 1984.
The win was Skaife's sixth and Lowndes' fifth at the "Mountain," Lowndes winning four of the last five Bathurst 1000s after taking three in a row from 2006 to 2008 with teammate and second-place finisher Whincup. The effort was made even tougher today after a back problem for Skaife meant Lowndes had to do the second half of the race without a break.
Third place was a remarkable result in the end for Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander and Cameron McConville. Early contact after a poor start left them with minor steering damage, and then at their second pit stop the driver's door fell off (but was speedily reattached).
Tander then raced up from ninth to fourth after the final fuel stop before his teammate crashed just in front of him. In the closing laps, he was unable to keep with the Team Vodafone duo but nevertheless it was a remarkable result on the 20th anniversary of the team's first win at Bathurst.
Another fast finishing car was just behind them, Jason Bright and Matt Halliday lurking outside the top ten for most of the day. But after restarting two places behind Tander at the final pit stop, they made a similar charge up the order to finish just a second off making the podium in fourth place.
Championship leader James Courtney had a bad start to the day, a flapping front splitter costing him time on track and in the pits, dropping him well down the order, but strategy had him just outside the top-five at half-distance, on his way to finishing fifth, just ahead of Greg Murphy and Allan Simonsen.
The hard luck story of the day was the Fujitsu Racing Commodore of Lee Holdsworth and David Besnard. Taking the lead on lap six, they stayed there for most of the next 110 laps. But toward the end of that period, they came under serious pressure from Lowndes, eventually relinquishing the lead.
Worse was to follow, having to pit early to replace a delaminating tire and then having to take a drive-through penalty after speeding in the pits. Still, they restarted after their final pit stop in fifth but fuel worries cost them another two places over the closing laps.
Pole man Mark Winterbottom had a similarly frustrating day, cruising in the top-five early in the before a delaminating tire for co-driver Luke Youlden put them into the barriers. Remarkably, they ended up with little more than a damaged wheel, and climbed back from 23rd to finish in ninth place.
The day's most spectacular crash came on lap one when Fabian Coulthard rolled six times after his left-rear tire deflated just as he entered the chase at 185mph, but he was quickly out of the car relatively unharmed.
Pos Drivers Make Time
1. Craig Lowndes/Mark Skaife Holden 6h12m51.4153s
2. Jamie Whincup/Steve Owen Holden + 0.1733s
3. Garth Tander/Cameron McConville Holden + 1.2496s
4. Jason Bright/Matt Halliday Holden + 2.3703s
5. James Courtney/Warren Luff Ford + 6.2001s
6. Greg Murphy/Allan Simonsen Holden + 7.0830s
7. Lee Holdsworth/David Besnard Holden + 7.5468s
8. Russell Ingall/Paul Morris Holden + 9.8712s
9. Mark Winterbottom/Luke Youlden Ford + 10.7756s
10. Michael Caruso/Greg Ritter Holden + 11.3222s
11. Steven Richards/James Moffat Ford + 12.3593s
12. Steven Johnson/Marcus Marshall Ford + 12.6333s
13. Alex Davison/David Brabham Ford + 17.6993s
14. Paul Dumbrell/Dean Canto Ford + 19.1367s
15. Karl Reindler/David Wall Holden + 19.5268s
16. Rick Kelly/Owen Kelly Holden + 26.1778s
17. Mark Noske/Nathan Pretty Holden + 29.1717s
18. Tim Slade/Jack Perkins Ford + 29.4502s
19. Jonathon Webb/David Russell Ford + 2m17.5414s
20. Todd Kelly/Dale Wood Holden + 1 lap
21. Shane Van Gisbergen/John McIntyre Ford + 3 laps
22. Tony Ricciardello/Taz Douglas Holden + 3 laps
23. Jason Richards/Andrew Jones Holden + 4 laps
24. Geoff Emery/Markus Zukanovic Holden + 5 laps
25. Andrew Thompson/Ryan Briscoe Holden + 7 laps
26. Damian Assaillit/Ant Pedersen Ford + 8 laps
Drivers Make Laps
Will Davison/David Reynolds Holden 152
Jason Bargwanna/Glenn Seton Holden 132
Dean Fiore/Michael Patrizi Ford 56
Tony D'Alberto/Shane Price Holden 38
Fabian Coulthard//Craig Baird Holden 0