TEAM EASTERN CREEK KARTS has won a second Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour endurance race at Mount Panorama, returning to the top of the rostrum after two years of Mitsubishi domination on the mountain.
The team of Garry Holt, Paul Morris and touring car legend John Bowe survived everything that could be thrown at them – including kangaroos, torrential rain, two race stoppages and even a tree falling across the circuit – to replicate the teams’ 2007 success in a car that had been driven to the circuit in the style of the series production races held at the track in the 1960s and 70s.
To cap off the weekend, in true production car racing spirit, the car will be driven back to its suburban Sydney base across the Blue Mountains despite having completed nearly 1300kms during the race.
The Holt / Morris / Bowe BMW 335i Turbo revelled in the wet conditions and took the fight to the four-wheel-drive cars that have dominated the race for the past four years.
The team made a conservative start to the race, staying out of trouble before working their way forward and into the top three by the lap 40 mark. From there the car was rarely outside the top five and utilised sensational middle race stints in challenging conditions to solidify their position.
Strategy and consistent wet-weather pace saw the team carry a one-minute lead into the last hour before the team was spared a fighting two-lap sprint with the Evo of David Wall thanks to the race finishing under yellow.
The thrilling finish had many in the Eastern Creek Karts team garage on the edge of their seat before the celebration began when the 12-hour mark ticked over with the cars still behind the safety car.
It was the second 12-hour win for Holt and Morris, and the first for Bowe.
There were emotional scenes in the Eastern Creek Karting Raceway team pits at the end of the race, after one of the most dramatic days ever witnessed on the famous mountain.
“It’s incredible. To win a race like this you need to have a great team behind you and that’s what we have. You also need to have champion drivers and in Paul and John, we do. They did an outstanding job,” Holt said.
“The car is still not perfect and we are still having problems with the electronics and the computer pulling the throttle back through corners so the conditions suited us and helped us get to the position we did.
“It’s an emotional win because so much goes into the race – to win again is very satisfying.”
Morris – who was in the car at the finish - said he was ready for the fight at the end that never came.
“The safety car was the last thing that we needed, but if it came down to a fight there might have been a Wall in the Wall,” he joked to the media following the race.
“It would have been one hell of a race. That was a tough day but Garry’s team has done a great job. The strategy worked and we had plenty of speed in the wet weather, which is what we were hoping for. The Evo’s had 1 to 1.5 seconds faster than us in the dry so the conditions worked to our favour. It’s great to be able to return here and get a win – that was certainly one of the more challenging days we have had here.”
Two-time Bathurst winner John Bowe added another trophy to his cabinet at the weekend and said that the race ranked up there as one of the most challenging in his career.
“I have been coming here for about 25-years and I can say that was a pretty interesting day,” he said.
“I’ve never seen a race like that. I had a couple of moments but managed to get through them all and survived, which is the key thing. This is a fantastic race and it’s great to see it growing but it really needs the support of the motor industry, it could be even better if the car manufacturers get behind it.
“Full credit to Garry and his team, and to some of the strategy decisions called by Paul.”
The Eastern Creek Karting raceway BMW 335i Turbo team was supported by Eastern Creek International Karting Raceway (Sydney), Wilson Security, Dunlop, Farina Smash Repairs, 2GB, BMW and Xeno.
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