Bathurst 1000: Whincup/Lowndes lead at halfway

Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes lead a tense 2019 Bathurst 1000 at the halfway point.

Bathurst 1000: Whincup/Lowndes lead at halfway

The #888 Holden had been running second to the #55 Tickford Ford for the last stint-and-a-half, however took advantage of James Moffat stalling on the way out of the pits on Lap 81.

That also promoted the Scott McLaughlin/Alex Premat car into the second, the Frenchman currently at the wheel, with Moffat now in third.

Already the latest start in Great Race history, there was a further 15-minute delay to proceedings after Brodie Kostecki was forced to abandon his Holden on the warm-up lap.

The rookie was stopped by a cool box issue, which pumped dry ice into his helmet fan.

The recovery effort resulted in a delayed started and additional warm-up lap, Scott McLaughlin finally leading the field away at 11:49am. 

The race was only momentarily green, contact between Scott Pye and Tim Slade on the way out of The Cutting on Lap 1 forcing Slade into the wall and out of the race.

The race was restarted on Lap 4, McLaughlin initially leading Michael Caruso before Chaz Mostert moved into second after a handful of laps.

The Penske Ford got 3.5s clear of Mostert before making its first stop on Lap 15, Alex Premat taking over the car.

Mostert followed suit three laps later to hand over to Moffat, the gap resuming at around the 2s mark before settling at 2.5s.  

The third round of stops for the leaders started that Lap 38, Premat, Craig Lowndes and Waters stopping from first, third and fourth respectively.

Waters was able to jump the Whincup/Lowndes car in the process, emerging just over a second behind Premat.

Once within striking distance Waters was able to close right up on Premat, Mostert joining that party after taking over from Moffat on Lap 41.

Within a handful of laps Waters and Mostert were all over the back of the Shell Ford, Whincup using the frantic battle to close up on the lead group. 

The #97 Triple Eight car, which had been shadowing the lead group over the first two stints, lost time after its Lap 44 stop when the door wouldn't close. 

It took Shane van Gisbergen a lap to get it to latch, the distraction leaving him more than 15s off the lead.

On Lap 49 Waters made his move on Premat into The Chase, but found himself blocked by a well-crafted defence. 

That forced Waters to compromise his line enough for Mostert to get up next to him into the last corner.

Whincup followed Mostert through on the front straight, demoting Waters to fourth.

A lap later Premat finally handed over the lead, a lock-up into The Chase letting both Mostert and Whincup through.

It took Waters another two laps to get by the Penske Ford, by which point Mostert was 4s down the road.

Premat, meanwhile, swiftly fell off the lead group, the gap to Mostert more than 13s before he pitted for a brake rotor change and driver swap on Lap 57.

Whincup and Waters both stopped on Lap 60, the former coming out well clear of McLaughlin while the #6 Mustang, now with Caruso at the wheel, dropped back to an effective fourth.

Mostert handed his car back to Moffat two laps later, the Tickford Mustang re-emerging right ahead of Whincup. 

McLaughlin quickly bought into that battle, eroding the deficit from the back end of Premat's stint. 

Moffat held his own against the primary drivers throughout the stint, keeping both Whincup and McLaughlin at bay.

He was set to emerge from a Lap 81 stop in the effective lead too, only to stall on his way out of the box.

That allowed Lowndes, now back in the #888, into the lead, Premat just a second behind after taking back over from McLaughlin.

Moffat is a full 10s behind the leaders in third, while Caruso has dropped back behind the #12 Penske Ford currently piloted by Tony D'Alberto.

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