Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander and Will Davison have won the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 as their pace showed the way and their strongest contenders struck trouble.
Tander retook the lead at the second-last safety car, having made contact with the back of the Kelly Racing car at turn two just before the safety car period as he took the position from the Kelly car.
At the restart, Tander then made an extremely aggressive dive on a lapped car at the first turn, riding the curb on the inside and forcing the lapped car onto the grass on the exit.
This compromised Tander's run up the hill, and as he defended his lead, he forced the Kelly car onto the grass as it tried to take the lead away. Despite a couple of late safety cars, the wounded car of the Kellys with a damaged rear wing from earlier in the race held up the cars behind him allowing the HRT car to make a break.
Tander and Davison had looked well-placed all day apart from a decision to stay out on wets when the track dried mid-race as they tried to extend their fuel window. A later safety car then worked heavily in their favour and proved pivotal in the race result.
The two leaders at the time, Greg Ritter and Greg Murphy, had already passed the pit entry and were forced to follow the safety car before pitting, dropping them down the order and out of the battle with the leading HRT car, the wounded Kelly car then helping them open a gap over the field in the remaining laps.
Team BOC's Jason Richards and Cameron McConville finished second despite a brush with the wall and an off at the Chase with about 40 laps remaining.
Back up to sixth at the second-last restart, Richards passed a car on lap 155 and gained two places the next lap as two cars made contact. On the second-last lap he took second place at Forrest's Elbow, closing on Tander but by then it was too late.
After a spin early in the race, third was a miraculous result for Garry Rogers Motorsport's Michael Caruso and Lee Holdsworth. But strong pace got them back into contention, before, with less than ten laps remaining, they lost three places to drop from third to sixth.
But the next lap they got two of those places back as those two cars made contact, and then passed Kelly for third just after the final restart with three laps remaining.
Fourth was a good comeback for Sprint Gas's Greg Murphy and Mark Skaife, having struggled badly in the wet mid-race before looking with a chance of winning with 25 laps remaining, just a second behind Tander in third and with a shorter fuel stop than Tander's to come. But when the second-last safety car came out and they hadn't pitted and had passed the pit entry, they dropped down the order to 11th. Murphy charged back up to sixth when the final safety car came out and took two places on the restart lap, just unable to take third from Holdsworth despite a couple of serious attempts.
Having gone into the race trying to score their fourth win in a row at Bathurst, Team Vodafone's Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup had a lot to live up to.
And despite a drive-through penalty for an unsafe pit release early in the race and Whincup's mid-race struggle in wet conditions, the car's subsequent dry pace and fuel economy meant that with 40 laps remaining, they were in the lead and well-placed for victory.
But just a handful of laps later a clutch issue hampered their race, Lowndes dropping from the lead to fourth on lap 125, losing another place on the next lap.
The Team Vodafone drivers worked around the issue but weren't quite as quick as before, their Ford the only one in the top ten at the end of the race.
An incident with Jason Bargwanna on lap 156 may yet come under further scrutiny, the two cars making contact as Bargwanna defended and Whincup attacked, Whincup losing one place while Bargwanna lost four as he spun.
If penalized, the Team Vodafone car may either swap positions with the Bargwanna car, losing one place and 18 points, or be penalized the equivalent of a drive-through penalty, which would drop them from fifth to 12th, a 78 point hit.
Bargwanna and co-driver Mark Noske ended up sixth just behind Whincup, having been in third place just five laps earlier. Next were Supercheap's Paul Morris and Tim Slade, while next were the biggest losers in the closing laps, the Jack Daniel's Racing car of Todd and Rick Kelly.
Fighting a damaged rear wing and diffuser, Rick Kelly held on in second place for 15 laps after the second restart despite a pack of cars right on his tail. But after the final safety car he was passed for second on the restart lap by Richards.
From there it was a procession as Kelly fell from second to eighth place in just over two laps, with two cars less than half a second behind him at the checkered flag.
Completing the top 10 were David Besnard and Greg Ritter who were leading the race ahead of Murphy and Skaife when the second-last safety car came out, their hopes of a win disappearing in the same manner as the Sprint Gas car's, and unable to show the same pace.
Alex Davison and Shane van Gisbergen had looked in with a chance of winning not much earlier, but a slow pitstop when the master switch got knocked off and brake issues afterwards ended any hopes they had, finishing 13th.
Both Jim Beam cars had trouble, James Courtney and Steven Johnson 24th and last car running after a couple of issues including failed front left suspension, the team's other car failing to finish.
Ford Performance Racing had a similarly disastrous day, their lead car going ip in flames before one-third distance after a loose battery led to a fuel fire, while the team's other car crashed late in the race.
Davison's win moves him closer to Whincup in the championship, the margin down to 207 points, and may yet drop further if the Team Vodafone car is penalised.
Davison and Whincup's strong showing means third and fourth are still their teammates, Garth Tander still 531 points behind Davison with Lowndes now 94 points behind Tander, but over 200 points clear of the next driver, Steven Johnson.
Pos Drivers Make Time
1. W Davison/G Tander Holden Commodore VE 6:40:02.4884
2. McConville/J Richards Holden Commodore VE + 0.7599
3. Caruso/Holdsworth Holden Commodore VE + 3.3842
4. Murphy/Skaife Holden Commodore VE + 3.3884
5. Lowndes/Whincup Ford Falcon FG + 4.6582
6. Bargwanna/Noske Holden Commodore VE + 5.9490
7. Morris/Slade Holden Commodore VE + 8.0320
8. R Kelly/T Kelly Holden Commodore VE + 10.3412
9. Besnard/Ritter Holden Commodore VE + 10.4702
10. D'Alberto/A Thompson Holden Commodore VE + 10.7202
11. Bright/Reindler Ford Falcon FG + 12.7196
12. Priaulx/Reynolds Holden Commodore VE + 12.8611
13. A Davison/van Gisbergen Ford Falcon FG + 1:09.2833
14. Perkins/Wood Holden Commodore VE + 1 lap
15. Ingall/O Kelly Holden Commodore VE + 1 lap
16. Owen/Price Holden Commodore VE + 1 lap
17. McNally/Ricciardello Holden Commodore VE + 1 lap
18. L Tander/Wall Ford Falcon BF + 1 lap
19. Gaunt/McIntyre Ford Falcon FG + 1 lap
20. Collins/Pretty Holden Commodore VE + 5 laps
21. Baird/Dumbrell Holden Commodore VE + 8 laps
22. Assaillit/Lowe Ford Falcon BF + 10 laps
23. A Jones/B Jones Holden Commodore VE + 16 laps
24. Courtney/Johnson Ford Falcon FG + 30 laps
Drivers Make Laps
Simonsen/J Thompson Ford Falcon FG 152
Canto/Youlden Ford Falcon FG 139
Coulthard/Patrizi Ford Falcon FG 120
Luff/Webb Ford Falcon FG 84
Douglas/Walter Holden Commodore VE 84
Bayliss/Fiore Holden Commodore VE 59
S Richards/Winterbottom Ford Falcon FG 49
Sieders/Fisher Ford Falcon BF 22