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Andrew van Leeuwen

Bathurst 1000: Van Gisbergen/Tander lead despite penalty

It was an action-packed start to the Great Race, the first safety car period coming on the opening lap thanks to a multi-car crash on Mountain Straight.

A huge puddle of water on the racing line left Jamie Whincup a little out of shape, subsequent contact with Tony D'Alberto and Jack Perkins leaving both Perkins and Whincup facing the wrong way.

Zak Best, meanwhile, did his best to avoid Perkins but clipped both the Erebus Holden and the wall in the process.

While the Best/Thomas Randle car was out of the race, Whincup continued without damage, while the Perkins/Will Brown car could be repaired and even got back on the lead lap thanks to the lucky dog rule.

The race went green again on Lap 5 with Lee Holdsworth leading Fabian Coulthard, however the green running was short-lived due to an incident prompted by Tickford's Zane Goddard.

A failed attempt to pass Greg Murphy at The Chase saw Goddard splash through the mud and re-join at speed, where he was collected by both Dale Wood and Matt Campbell.

The damage put all three cars out of the race immediately, Goddard accepting blame for the crash while Heimgartner, who was partnered with Wood, slammed the driving standards.

The majority of the field pitted under the safety car, Holdsworth leading Coulthard when the race went green again on Lap 10.

Light rain complicated matters shortly afterwards, the field left tip-toeing in the damp conditions on slick tyres.

James Moffat, who had dropped four spots thanks to a sluggish start from pole, was able to pick his way through the field and into second before the track dried up.

On Lap 17 the safety car made its third appearance when the Kostecki/Kostecki Mustang ended up buried in the sand at The Chase.

Again most of the field pitted with a number of primary drivers taking over from their co-drivers.

That led to some early drama for the lead Red Bull Holden, with the car handed a five-second penalty for releasing van Gisbergen into the path of Alex Davison.

Dick Johnson Racing elected to leave D'Alberto out which meant he led the field when the race went green again on Lap 20.

He held onto that lead for nine laps before Cam Waters, who had taken over from Moffat at the stops, barged his way through at Turn 1.

Shortly after that lead change there was a fourth caution sparked by an Alex Davison mistake at The Chase. He fired the #17 Mustang off the road at speed and bounced off the tyre wall, before desperately trying to drive out of the mud and get back on the road.

He went painfully close but ended up bogged, which meant the safety car appeared for the fourth time.

Declan Fraser and Richie Stanaway stayed out, handing them the race lead for the restart while Waters held the effective lead.

The two wildcards continued to lead the way until Fraser pitted on Lap 40, right before the race went yellow for a fifth time.

On this occasion the culprit was Tim Blanchard, his Mustang left buried in the wall at Forrest's Elbow after a clash with Nick Percat.

At this point it was van Gisbergen that elected not to pit, which left him in the lead of the race ahead of fellow non-stoppers Scott Pye, Percat, Bryce Fullwood and Macauley Jones.

Moffat, who took the Monster Mustang back over from Waters, was the best-placed of the stoppers as the race went green on Lap 45 – but not for long. On the second lap after the restart he was turned around and The Cutting by Brodie Kostecki, Moffat dropping all the way back to 21st on the road.

Race control investigated both the Percat/Blanchard and Moffat/Kostecki incidents and elected to take no further action.

Out front van Gisbergen went on a tear as he tried to build a big enough lead to cover the five-second penalty he would have to serve at a green stop.

He got the lead out to the best part of eight seconds before taking a service under green conditions, plus the penalty, on Lap 55.

At that point he also handed the #97 Commodore back to Garth Tander.

The entry initially dropped to 18th, however the race was swiftly under yellow again when Macauley Jones was left stuck in the grass on pit entry.

That prompted another round of stops for most of the field, Tander staying out to take back over the lead ahead of the stopping pack led by David Russell (#99 Erebus Holden) and Anton De Pasquale.

The race went green again on Lap 59 with Tander able to slowly edge away from Russell. That was until Lap 78 when he dived back into the pits for a fourth service of the race.

On that same lap the race unraveled for Nick Percat when he hit the wall on the way to the Elbow while running fourth. He was able to get going again to avoid another safety car, but his car was nursing significant damage.

Russell and Moffat pitted a lap later while Whincup followed suit a lap later again, the trio resuming in second, third and fourth respectively behind Tander.

Bathurst 1000 rookie Matt Payne sits an impressive fifth having just taken the car back over from Holdsworth.

Chaz Mostert is sixth and Michael Caruso is currently seventh in a valiant fightback after Mark Winterbottom was spun in that car during the Lap 5 drama at The Chase.

Fraser, Dean Fiore (#14 BJR Holden) and Alex Davison currently round out the Top 10.

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