THE sight of a physically exhausted David Reynolds struggling to put in words his disappointment at bowing out of Sunday’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 about 15 laps earlier than planned graphically illustrated a side of the Great Race that we rarely give much attention.
Reynolds, the defending Bathurst champion, had set the pace around the Mount Panorama circuit for most of the weekend, taking out the Top 10 Shootout on Saturday afternoon and leading the Great Race from the very first lap.
And with less than an hour to go in the race, he appeared almost certain to make it back-to-back victories, even though the man chasing him in hot pursuit was six-times winner – and sentimental favourite – Craig Lowndes.
Lowndes was competing in the Bathurst 1000 for the final time as a full-time driver but despite his 25 years of experience on the circuit, his car seemed unable to peg back the flying Reynolds.
But then disaster struck.
It wasn’t a mechanical failure or moment of inattention that brought Reynolds’ race undone. Rather, it was his own body which started cramping as the physical trauma of a long stint behind the wheel took its toll.
The first cramp allowed Lowndes to go past him while a second in Pit Lane as his crew tried to fill him with electrolytes saw his tyres spin and cost him a drive-through penalty a lap later.
Reynolds had said even before the start of the race that he had not slept well all week and was running on adrenaline alone in the countdown to the start of the race. In the end, the adrenaline ran out.
But the enduring story of the 2018 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 will be Craig Lowndes’ win during his final championship year.
Lowndes will, no doubt, be back next year as a co-driver and will have a few more chances yet to add to his new tally of seven wins.
But this one was special – almost as special as his win in 2006 just weeks after the death of his mentor Peter Brock.
Bathurst’s newest honorary citizen was a popular winner and to hear the crowd chanting his name as he held aloft the Peter Brock Trophy took us back to the late ’70s and early ’80s when Brock was King of the Mountain.
Once again, the Bathurst 1000 has delivered more than we could have imagined.