A LOOK at the statistics sheet for Sunday’s Bathurst 6 Hour shows 18 lead changes throughout the endurance epic, but the car that spent the most time in front was not acknowledged.
It was the safety car.
Given the size of the Bathurst grid, the testing nature of the Mount Panorama circuit and the demands put on the cars – many of them previously untested in endurance races – the safety car was deployed 12 times.
It doubled the six times the field raced under yellow flag conditions in the inaugural edition, having equalled that mark two hours, 44 minutes and 33 seconds into the race.
In total, 33 laps were done behind the safety car, which spent 2:47.50 on the track.
Winners Luke Searle and Paul Morris spent 25 laps in the lead in their BMW M135i, with runners-up Chaz Mostert and Nathan Morcom in front for 26 circuits of Mount Panorama.
Still, some of the 14 participants who did not survive to see the chequered flag managed to make it back to the pits and avoided triggering a safety car period.
One of them was the first retiree of the Bathurst 6 Hour, the Battery World Mitsubishi Lancer Evo of Aaron McGill and Aaron Tebb.
The team had worked hard just to ensure they made the start of Sunday’s race following a crash during the second practice session on Friday.
The suspension gave way as McGill was going through The Dipper. The team had to replace the headlight, oil cooler, radiator, strut, brake disc, hub, upper and lower control arms, rear drive shaft and rear lower control arm.
But after that epic repair job – done while their rivals were qualifying on Saturday – McGill’s race was over on the opening lap on Sunday.
“I think I must have run over the Easter Bunny on Friday, we broke a ball joint which put it into the fence and that just destroyed the car at the front end of it. The only thing that wasn’t busted was the battery, so at least Battery World didn’t let us down,” he said.
“Then look, we’ve just run out of spares. It’s broken the diff as gone out of The Cutting on the first lap, it just went bang. We haven’t got another one so that is the end of the story.”
Still, McGill tried to remain upbeat and hinted he would be back to do battle with the 6.213 kilometre circuit next year.
“[It had] been non-stop since Friday since it hit the wall. It was a pretty big crash and we’ve used every spare part we’ve got. That’s the way it rolls unfortunately, but I just wish it didn’t roll my way,” he said.
“Hopefully we’ll be back next year. It’s a great event and what James [O’Brien, event director] has done, everybody, all the volunteers, it’s a fantastic event, it’s only going to get bigger and we’ll be back.”