THEY were side-by-side into the final corner, but Bathurst driver Brad Shiels held off a charging Barton Mawer to claim the chequered flag in Saturday’s one-hour Production Sports Cars race.
Competing at Mount Panorama as part of the Bathurst 6 Hour program, Shiels was delighted to claim victory in the Porsche Cup R car he shared with Andrew Macpherson.
“I think I started with a five-second gap, but then I got into the bad end of the traffic and got baulked and Bart closed right up on me,” he said.
“By that time my tyres were pretty burned up, so I was really, really struggling. Bart had a little bit fresher tyres than me, he was giving it to me the whole race, but he raced really clean.
“We were side-by-side through The Chase a couple of times and into the last corner as well, so it was a hard race and it was great to win.
“Andrew drove awesome all weekend, he set his fastest ever lap around here this morning.”
Shiels began the weekend in impressive fashion as he clocked the fastest lap in qualifying on Friday – two minutes, 9.280 seconds – to claim pole position for the first of two sprint races.
He was on track to win that Driver A sprint race on Friday afternoon, but five-second penalty for a start line infringement and finishing under yellow flag cost him the win.
Still, Shiels clocked the fastest lap in his category for the weekend in that contest, averaging 176.75 km/hr for a 2:06.544.
Macpherson placed fourth in Saturday morning’s Driver B race to before the pair started the one-hour later that afternoon from pole position.
Macpherson made sure he took advantage, leading the way up the mountain for the first time as he took the opening stint.
On lap three Mark Griffith took the lead off Macpherson in his Mercedes GTS, opening up an advantage of just over two seconds before the race was yellow flagged.
With a tick over 39 minutes remaining the safety car pulled off the track and with the pit window opening, Macpherson dived in to do the driver change.
Shiels rejoined in 21st position after a 79 seconds pit stop, and in the space of a lap, had moved up four spots.
He was into 10th with just under half the race remaining as he proved to be one of the fastest cars on track, Mawer the only man quicker in his Audi R8 LMS Ultra.
Griffith, who did not have a co-driver, pitted after 14 laps with 23½ minutes remaining. After he and the rest of the field completed their compulsory stop, the Bathurst talent had the lead.
With just over 20 minutes remaining, he led by 2.081 seconds over Mawer, while Griffith was a further 36.067 seconds back in third.
As the race drew inside the last five minutes, Shiels was still holding off Mawer by 0.357 seconds, setting the scene for an exciting finish.
He managed to hold off his charging rival, 0.399 seconds separating the pair after an hour of racing. Such was the dominance of that duo, Griffith was 57.885 further back in third.