SUCCESSFUL MOTOR FESTIVAL ENDS WITH BIG SUNDAY

Sunday 1 NEARLY 10,000 people have enjoyed three days of Easter long weekend action at the Bathurst Motor Festival this year. On-track action concluded today with feature races from the five race and two regularity categories competing this weekend as part of the Mount Panorama 75th anniversary celebrations being conducted – despite inclement weather today. There was a thrilling last lap finish in the one-hour Production Touring Car race, race-long leader Ryan Simpson robbed of the win in the final quarter of a lap when his car faltered in the final few laps. A delaminated right front tyre forced Simpson to slow and limp his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X RS to the line in the final few laps – costing him a certain victory. Simpson had led by 50 seconds with just a few laps remaining, but two slow laps saw him passed in the final few corners by Matthew Holt, who took the race victory in his HSV GTS. Jim Pollicina finished second in his similar HSV whilst Simpson – who had dominated the weekend up to that point – limped across the line in third; his last lap taking more than three minutes. Leigh Burges and Brett Howard completed the top five with 12 of the 45 cars finishing on the lead – and 21st – lap. Nathan Morcom conquered Mount Panorama, Bathurst in the most challenging of conditions to take the opening round of the Formula 3 Australian Drivers’ Championship this weekend. Morcom, driving his #6 R-Tek Motorsport Dallara F307 Mercedes, caught and passed early race leader James Winslow in wet conditions this morning to take the victory in round one’s feature race, giving him an early leg up in the championship standings. Winslow finished second and actually leads the standings – though he won’t race for the remainder of the year. Morcom’s drive in the wet conditions was controlled and measured and resulted in his maiden Formula 3 race win, despite dramas unfolding around his orange and black Dallara. Queensland driver Nick Foster finshed third in his Mygale chassis. Experienced racer Ross Lilley took today’s feature, 60-minute Production Sports Car endurance race, his Dodge Viper GT3 completing 19 laps in the safety-car interrupted race. Lilley beat home Ash Samadi’s Mosler GT3 to the line with Porsche racer Stephen Borness finishing third in his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car. In a race of attrition, several key contenders were forced out of the running including defending Bathurst winner, Neale Muston. The Sydney driver crashed his Porsche GT3 Cup Car in a big way at the top of the mountain after just six laps and though he emerged unscathed, his #1 Porsche was much worse for wear. Hopefuls Duvashen Padayachee (Porsche) and the fancied Peter Lucas / Garth Walden Lotus Elise combination were also ones to strike dramas early. Michael Anderson (Ford Falcon GT) and Daryl Hansen (Ford Mustang) split today’s wins in Group N Historic Touring Cars, after yesterday’s winner Dean Neville (Camaro) was forced down the field in race two – and out in race three – with vehicle issues. Daniel Reinhardt won today’s Formula Vee race – one of two scheduled to be contested in the race program today. The second race was red flagged following a major crash at turn one involving West Australian drivers James McDonald and Allan Yeo – though both drivers emerged unscathed from the damage. Ben Porter and Stephen Jones completed the podium with Dylan Thomas and Ryan Reynolds completing the top five. Roger Ranftl dominated the running in the Porsche Club NSW Regularity trials – ironically racing a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, whilst David McCrow was the pick of the bunch in the NSW Road Racing Club trials, in his Ford Capri 1600 GT. Event officials announced a three-day attendance of 9,992 people for this weekend’s Bathurst Motor Festival.