SUPERCARS stars Craig Lowndes, Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen might not have managed a Bathurst 12 Hour podium on Sunday, but it was certainly not for lack of effort.
Competing against vastly more experienced GT drivers, dealing with a Mercedes AMG which did not always have the speed of other cars, battling withering cabin heat and brake issues, the trio still clinched fourth outright.
They missed a podium in the Triple Eight-Scott Taylor Motorsport entry by just two-tenths of a second.
Van Gisbergen, who had the job of finishing the race and charged from seventh to fourth, collapsed in parc ferme after getting out of the car.
He was cramping from having to use two feet to brake and suffered in the heat, but gave it everything until the chequered flag was waved.
“I heard from Craig and Jamie how hot it was, so I prepared for the worst, but Kiwis aren't made for the heat, so I battled,” he said after recovering in an ice bath.
“From the problems with the brakes, I had to use two feet the whole stint and I just couldn't push the pedal hard enough to stop.
“The car wasn't right, but we hung in there, stayed on the lead lap and made the most of the situation.”
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Van Gisbergen also started the race from 19th on the grid, a spot they improved on before Lowndes picked his way through the field in a double-stint.
He too suffered without a cool suit in that double-stint, but praised the efforts of his team plus van Gisbergen and Whincup in getting so close to a podium.
“I did struggle towards the end of that double stint, but luckily we have good people around us, we recovered, got back into it and used the cool suit for the second double stint,” he said.
“It's a credit to the team. Shane, Jamie and I drove our hearts out. The car wasn't perfect, but that's the way it goes. It was a long day.
“We didn't get the podium we wanted, but we gave it a red hot go. Maybe we'll come back next year and see what we can do!"
Though Whincup missed out on his third consecutive 12 Hour podium, he echoed Lowndes’ sentiments.
“The crew did an unbelievable job, rolling the dice and throwing on that extra set of tyres at the end to give ourselves some hope and opportunity to podium. I thought it was a great move,” he said.
“No race car is ever perfect, but we had our challenges today with brakes, cabin temp and whatnot, but I think we maximised our opportunities and to come home fourth, I couldn't be happier.”