Inside Viewpoint from Bathurst 2002 - Part 2
Well we have gone from the days of the greats "Bob Jane (1962 and 1964)", "Allan Moffat (1970's and 1980's)", "Peter Brock (1970's and 1980's)", and "Dick Johnson (1990's)". All famous for their terrific success or failure at Bathurst. Now we move into modern times where the main successors from the current pack are, of course, Mark Skaife and Jim Richards. Obvious favourites, but for many, not the ideal winners.
What follows is a brief run-down of each team which entered the race and had a chance as far as I am concerned of winning the 'big one'.
1 Mark Skaife / Jim Richards (HRT) FRIDAY QUAL: 2:08.3873 (2)
Both born in Victoria and have a shared favourite circuit of Bathurst.
Total series and Bathurst wins combined: 10 Skaife / 20 Richards.
2 Jason Bright / Thomas Mezera (HRT) FRIDAY QUAL: 2:09.0170 (3)
Born Victoria and Czech Republic respectively.
Total series and Bathurst wins combined: 3 Bright / 2 Mezera.
4 Marcos Ambrose / Paul Weel (PIRTEK RACING) FRIDAY QUAL: 2:09.8100 (11)
Born in Victoria and Tasmania respectively.
Total series and Bathurst wins combined: 2 Ambrose / 2 Weel.
5 Glenn Seton / David Besnard [due to Owen Kelly's sickness and Wayne
Gardner's accident] (FORD CREDIT RACING) FRIDAY QUAL: 2:10.0471 (12)
Both born in NSW and share a favourite circuit of Bathurst.
Total series and Bathurst wins combined: 4 Seton / 3 Besnard.
11 Larry Perkins / Paul Dumbrell (CASTROL PERKINS RACING) FRIDAY QUAL: 2:09.6931 (9}
Both born in Victoria and share a favourite race of Bathurst.
Total series and Bathurst wins combined: 10 Perkins / 0 Dumbrell.
00 Craig Lowndes / Neil Crompton (00 MOTORSPORT) FRIDAY QUAL: 2:09.3559 (5)
Both born in Victoria and are one centimetre different in height.
Total series and Bathurst wins combined: 6 Lowndes / 0 Crompton.
51 Greg Murphy / Todd Kelly (KMART RACING TEAM) FRIDAY QUAL: 2:09.7464 (10)
Born in New Zealand and Victoria respectively.
Total series and Bathurst wins combined: 4 Murphy / 2 Kelly.
16 Russell Ingall / Steven Richards (CASTROL PERKINS RACING) FRIDAY QUAL: 2:09.1405 (4)
Born in United Kingdom and New Zealand respectively.
Total series and Bathurst wins combined: 3 Ingall / 1 Richards.
21 John Bowe / Brad Jones (OZEMAIL RACING TEAM) FRIDAY QUAL: 2:08.3873 (1)
Born in Tasmania and NSW respectively.
Total series and Bathurst wins combined: 3 Bowe / 7 Jones.
I am sorry if I offend anybody but these are the only teams I saw as having a chance to win the 'big one' on the day. 10 o'clock came and all you could hear were the engine's peaking out as the boys revved their toys, awaiting the green light. Then all of a sudden, they were off! It was Bowe who took the lead into the first corner, followed by a line of Holdens. Unfortunately for the HRT fans, Skaife had fallen back to 4th and Bright to 6th. Murphy had jumped into 5th and Rick Kelly had also received quite a good start.
Everyone in the crowd knew that the race was far from over but cheered every lap for the first ten or so (Ford fans standing and applauding as Bowe led the race). It wasn't long however, until Skaife snuck through and led the 'big one'. He too didn't last too long, as Murphy screamed passed him in a hurry to get to the front. Most of the boys pitted and we had new leaders. However, noone could have predicted to see the safety (pace) car in the lead for so many laps. Nor could anyone have predicted that only 24 cars would finish. I guess the Holden supporters would tell you that they knew Holden's would finish in all of the top five positions, but come on, be real. I mean, I am a Holden supporter and after Saturday was in a little doubt myself (except when Skaife was driving). The lead kept between a few driver's for most of the race, and only during yellow flag periods when some pitted and others didn't did we see lessor knowns in the lead. Unfortunately for racing, the officials yet again wrecked what was going to be a thriller ... down to the wire finish (barring mishap).
Who could have predicted that the KMART RACING TEAM 51 car of Murphy/Kelly would be in the lead of the race and seem to have everything under control??? Especially, seeing the slow times of Kelly during qualifying. I guess that is what happens when cars such as the OZEMAIL FALCON 21 car of Bowe/Jones touched the wall and later snapped an all important bolt, putting them out of the race. They, of course, weren't the only fast cars who came to grief during the race. Lowndes/Crompton overheated after a plastic shopping bag covered their air intake, as it did in other cases. Ambrose/Weel came to grief several times but managed to persevere until the end of the race. Seton/Besnard seemed to be cursed (typical as it is Seton remember). Radisich/Johnson lost brakes and had suspension trouble, resulting in a high-speed impact with the ever supporting tyre wall (only constructed a few years ago from memory). Other than this, not many well-known drivers came to grief (ending their race). However, there still were incidents which ended the race for certain teams and drivers.
The most controversial and publicised is of course that 5-minute penalty on the KMART RACING TEAM 51 car of Murphy/Kelly. 5-minutes!!! I have done some research and have not found one penalty in motorsport history exceeding two-minutes. And for Christ-sake, there have been plenty of worse incidents occur over the years. 5-minutes under racing conditions such as those of today is rediculous and whoever made the decision should never be allowed to officiate again. I know that may sound a bit harsh to you, but think about it. How bad did it look? It wrecked what looked to be a thrilling race. This was evident by the extreme pace shown by both Murphy and Kelly throughout the race. Other similar incidents went unpunished for several teams, Brock's being the worst. Not even a drive through for an almost identical mishap. Go that consistency!
Anyway, the race did continue, despite the poor quality of officiating, and Skaife and Richards took received the most advantage, rocketing into first place and never looking back. There were a few who kept close to him but couldn't keep up to his consistently thunderous pace.
For the crowd in the Chase, the best action came from spins in the sand. We came to rely on the PIRTEK RACING, CAT RACING and BETTA ELECTRICAL for off-track excursions. With a spin from SHELL HELIX RACING and a mass off by ORRCOM RACING, almost to the wall.
That is about all I have for you on Bathurst for 2002. Hope you all enjoyed the race whereever you were. It would be great to see you guys down at the track (no matter which race you go to) to cheer on the boys and support the V8 SUPERCAR SERIES. It is the best form of racing in the world, with F1 coming a close second. Without your support, we may lose more races and possibly racing venues, as may be the case in Qld. That would be a real pity, as I honestly believe it is the best track from a spectator's point of view. It is the only track I have been to where you can see the entire race, without the assistance of the big screen.
Anyway, I have spent enough of your time today. I will leave you with a little thought I have had lately:
"Ford's are slowly but surely coming back into contention with their youthful drivers at the healm and more money being spent to improve their cars. However, it seems to me that Holden have held an advantage for quite a number of years, and that will not change for quite a few more years." I hope I am wrong, as I want to see quality racing.
All the best,