Holden Racing Team drivers Garth Tander and rookie Nick Percat have taken a thrilling win in the 2011 Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama.
Tander held off the challenge of a fast finishing Craig Lowndes to win by less than a second.
With only one lap remaining Lowndes, last years race winner, was right on the tail of Tander and clearly in a quicker car.
Tander however drove a perfect defensive lap while Lowndes resisted the temptation to do anything silly and despite a last lap lunge into the chase the two raced cleanly to a great finish.
Tander said after the race that he knew where to pace himself to keep Lowndes at bay.
“It was a bit closer than we had liked but we got there in the end,”.
He said that the win in the “Great Race” would provide a big boost to the team for the rest of the season and next year.
“What this will do is give the team a lot of belief that we are going in the right direction. To win this weekend is amazing and fantastic for the team. We will get a lot from this but we still have work to do.”
Third place went to the pole sitting car of New Zealander Greg Murphy and Australia’s second favourite Dane, Allan Simmonsen.
Mark Winterbottom and Steven Richards were the first Ford drivers home with a fourth place with Jason Bright and Andrew Jones overcoming a tough qualifying session to finish fifth.
Once again the Mountain threw up plenty of incidents the most spectacular involving David Besnard whose Dick Johnson Racing Falcon burst into flames after a big crash at the top of the Mountain.
Thankfully Besnard was not hurt.
It was a tough race for series leader Jamie Whincup who lost the championship lead to Lowndes after electrical problems late in the race.
The fairytale ending to the “reality” TV show that put Victorian Formula Ford Champion Cameron Waters in the race never happened after he hit the wall at Forrest Elbow on his fifth lap.
“At the end of the day, it was my mistake and there’s not much I can do about it,” Waters said. “I was on cold tyres and I probably pushed a little bard for what I had.”
The next round of the series will see the local regulars joined by a who’s who of International drivers for the second Gold Coast 600 on the streets of Surfers Paradise in two weeks time.