THE SUN SHONE on the closing day of the 2015 Bathurst Motor Festival at Mount Panorama today with competitors, officials and fans alike relishing dry conditions after two days of soaking rain.
In typical Bathurst style, however, the drama didn’t abate with the rain with plenty of close racing and on-track incidents filtered throughout the day.
Rod Salmon returned serve on rival Neale Muston by winning the second CUE Sports Car enduro today in a race that featured two lengthy Safety Car periods.
The first was required at the end of the first lap following a hefty crash at Murray’s Corner when Robert Smith’s Ferrari 458 spun in the braking zone at the bottom end of Conrod straight.
The Ferrari spun across the sand trap and into the path of the Ginetta G50 driven by Andrew Richmond.
Though both drivers were uninjured, both cars were severely damaged and the damage required a lengthy clean-up.
Racing resumed briefly before the Safety Car was again called when Porsche driver Nick Marentis and Justin Hughes’ Lamborghini both crashed at turn seven, at the top of Mount Panorama.
Salmon then led the field to the line in the closing ten minute sprint, with Muston a full nine seconds behind in second place by the conclusion.
Brad Shiels and Andrew Macpherson finished third in the IMAK Porsche GT3R in a remarkable drive through the field after starting the race in 47th position - thanks to a DNF yesterday.
They completed their charge through the field in just six laps of green-flag racing and included jumping from 19th to third in the four-lap dash to the line.
Dylan Thomas took a commanding victory in the Shaw Vineyards Production Touring Cars enduro, leading from the outset to take his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X to a strong victory over Luke Searle and Barry Graham’s BMW M135.
Matt Holt’s third place ensured there were three different brands represented inside the top three at the finish of the safety-car free one hour race.
Thomas led the race from the outset and held a commanding lead following the completion of the pit stops – Searle charging hard to close the margin in the closing stint.
The BMW driver got to within 0.2 seconds of the Production Car lap record but still fell short at the end.
Brad Tilley completed his sweep of the Group N Historic Touring Car races after holding out the Chevy Camaro of Vince Macri in today’s 6-lap finale’.
Darryl Hansen finished third in his Ford Mustang with Michael Anderson and Jason Foley (Falcon GTs) finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.
Terry Lawlor won the third Heritage Touring Cars race to complete a clean sweep of victories for the ex-GIO Racing Nissan Skyline GTR – however it didn’t come as easy as his victories on Saturday.
Brian Sala grabbed an early lead in his Ford Sierra and headed the field on the opening lap before Lawlor was able to work his way past.
The Sierra dropped back in the closing stages but maintained his position to the line.
Garry Collins gave Holden fans something to cheer about in the third race, scrapping with Chris Stilwell (Ford Sierra) all race to grab third position.
Travis Lindorff held out Garry Hills to win the final Saloon Car race of the weekend, sealing the overall round victory in the process.
Wayne King finished third in today’s final race and for the weekend overall.
The Saloon Car weekend was highlighted by a charity function held at Bathurst Panthers on Saturday night that saw funds and awareness raised for charity, Donate Life, and honoured the life of Ashley Cooper and Mark Porter.
Anthony Macready and Matt Palmer split the honours in the NSW Road Racing Club’s Combined Sedans field – Macready winning race two this morning in strange circumstances.
The Nissan 300ZX driver was classified the winner however was also the reason for the race being red flagged after four laps when his car stopped on track.
With the results going back one lap, he was still classified the winner despite returning to the paddock on the back of a quick-lift truck.
Palmer won the final race in his ex-BJR V8 Supercar when he passed early leader Stephen Voight on the penultimate lap of the race – ensuring three winners from three races today.
In the pair of Porsche Club of NSW Regularity trials held today, Stephen Richardson (Porsche 911 Carrera) and Jamie Lovett (Porsche 964 RS) spit the honours.
Bathurst Motor Festival organisers announced a three-day event attendance of 10,221 for this year’s event, buoyed by the record number of more than 350 competitors entered this year.
Funds raised by donations at the gate will go directly to official event charity, Legacy, adding to the more than $35,000 raised in the last three years.