Bathurst 1000: Prodrive leads, McLaughlin out of the race

Cam Waters and Richie Stanaway continue to lead the Bathurst 1000, while Scott McLaughlin is in serious danger of losing his championship lead after being forced out of the race.

Bathurst 1000: Prodrive leads, McLaughlin out of the race
David Reynolds, Erebus Motorsport Holden
Mark Winterbottom, Prodrive Racing Australia
Start: Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Ford leads

It was effectively the battle of the Prodrive Fords across the second third of the race, with Waters, Garry Jacobson, and Chaz Mostert all having a go in the lead of the race.

Waters inherited the lead from co-driver Richie Stanaway on Lap 66, but struggled to carry on with his Kiwi co-driver’s rapid pace. He soon found himself under pressure from a lapped Shane van Gisbergen, who stormed his way back onto the lead lap, and an out-of-sequence Jacobson, who took the lead at The Chase on Lap 71.

Waters took back over at the front when Jacobson pitted a lap later, but soon found himself under pressure again. This time it was the first Safety Car of the race, called after Alex Premat rolled to a stop at The Cutting.

Bunching up the field put Chaz Mostert – recovering from the pitlane penalty after the first round of stops – back in striking distance. Within two laps of the restart Mostert was third, and a lap later he was past Waters and into the lead.

The second Safety Car arrived on Lap 88, this time for a kangaroo that was spotted heading up Mountain Straight. That sparked a round of stops, and in the case of new leader Mostert – who had been 12s down the road – a driver change.

With Waters staying in the car, Mostert’s co-driver Owen was quickly cleared when the race restarted.

He’s now leading by 15s seconds, ahead of Luke Youlden, who also passed Owen shortly after the restart.

Nick Percat is currently sitting fourth, with Richard Muscat fifth in James Moffat’s GRM Commodore.

Jason Bright is now running sixth, having taken over from Jacobson on the Lap 72 stop.

The Safety Cars fell well for Shane van Gisbergen and Matt Campbell. Having unlapped himself early in his stint proved crucial for van Gisbergen, who then opted not to pit behind the first Safety Car to shuffle his way up to eighth.

That became third before he dived in the pits on Lap 87 to hand over to Campbell again, right before the second Safety Car period.

Campbell put in a short stint near the back of the Top 10, before pitting again on Lap 100 after clearing his minimum laps.

They are now running 17th.

That first Safety Car didn’t just shake up the race, but the title fight as well. The engine problem that hampered Premat in the first stint proved terminal in the second. That means it will definitely be a no-score for Scott McLaughlin, who came into the 1000 with an 84-point championship lead over Whincup.

Not that it’s been a trouble-free period of the race for the #88 Red Bull Holden, either. Paul Dumbrell found himself sitting third when the Safety Car was called to retrieve the #17, but he didn’t stay there long. Problems with visibility meant he was quickly passed by the likes of Mostert, van Gisbergen, and James Moffat and he dropped back to sixth.

The crew did its best the rectify the problem during his stop behind the second Safety Car, Dumbrell now running ninth.

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