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Bathurst 24 Hours – Hours 19-24 Report

Hour 19 – Alzens Third
Tommy Erdos breezed into the press room, looking very relaxed and refreshed, to report that the GNM Porsche should be going out within an hour of the last quarter of the race starting.

As one British-entered Porsche is revived, another dies. The 24 Cirtek Porsche won’t fire up. “We can’t find a spark,” says the otherwise sparky Rob Schirle. “Crank trigger, ECU, we’ve tried everything – and can’t find it.”

Liz Halliday was pressing on in the Kawasaki Porsche just into the last quarter, a lap or so ahead of the VIP 911.

Charles Lamb - after a most unfortunate first stint yesterday (he was ill, and went back to his hotel to recover) - completed a very good stint up to 08.55, getting down to 2:17s and 18s. “We’ve got to push on,” said Pat Pearce as he prepared for “probably a double stint, if I feel OK.” Undoubtedly he will.

Pearce had an unusual problem in his second double, after midnight last night: he lost a wheel and didn’t realize it. “I turned in to one of the right handers and the car didn’t want to turn. I radio’d in and said I had a vibration, and when I pitted the team told me I didn’t have a left front wheel. I thought the suspension had collapsed. They gave me another wheel and I went straight back out.”

Tommy Erdos and the freshly refreshed GNM Porsche made their first appearance of the day at 08.45, and very smart they both looked. “All eight reference points are within 1.5 mm, which is what you’d expect after putting it on a laser jig,” said car owner Mike Newton. “They’ve stickered it up, and it looks very smart.”

A little too much toe-out needed fixing, but it would soon be go time again, after a break of over nine hours.

The significant adjustment in the order was Michael Bartels going third in the Alzen Porsche, ahead of the Falken car. With the Lamborghini having a left front puncture (no. six), that was about it for the nineteenth hour. Notice two pairs at the front, then the Mosler on its own, then most of the rest fairly well spaced out.

Hour Nineteen Positions
1. 427 Monaro 415 laps
2. 05 Monaro 415 laps
3. 6 Porsche 403 laps
4. 54 Porsche 403 laps
5 . 900 Mosler 399 laps
6. 8 Porsche 386 laps
7. 7 Porsche 385 laps
8. 888 Porsche 381 laps
9. 20 Lamborghini 374 laps
10. 71 BMW 369 laps.

Hour 20 – Then Fourth Again
When asked whether the team would make a decision about how the final stages would unfold at Garry Rogers Motorsport, 05# driver Greg Murphy said, “don’t ask. I wouldn’t want to be the one to have to make that call. Anyway, there’s still a long way to go.”

Halfway through the twentieth hour, bad news for Antipodean and Adiposian Alfa fans: the 156 went wide at Konica Minolta and slammed into the tyres. Safety Car.

Time for a quick Alfa repair by the TAFE students? Time for a quick pad and disc change on the 427 Monaro. Except that it didn’t go very smoothly. Is this the first ‘significant’ problem for a Monaro?

Hour 21 – More Lambo & Mosler Fun
It took half an hour to clear the crumpled Alfa, by which time the Alzens had managed to ose almost a complete lap to the 54 Porsche – and the four out front, on the track at least, were the Monaros, Youlden in the Lamborghini and Pearce in the Mosler. “We’ve got to push on,” he’d said. So he did, setting his PB of a 2:17.189.

Luke Youlden caught and passed the Pretty Holden at 10.13 … what would the Diablo have achieved without several punctures and a spark plus problem?

Pearce was next to join the attack on a Holden. Another 2:17. Ross Palmer was delighted to hear that the Mosler had set the fastest lap of the race, thereby justifying his ‘parity formula.’ Pearce proved the point by passing the yellow Holden, and catching the Lamborghini. Which he passed on Con-Rod Straight. The Mosler looked like the race leader.

Positions (again) barely changed from one hour before – just the 7 and 8 911s switching sixth and seventh places.

The twelfth SC period began at 10.56 when one of the Z3s lost a wheel and spun into the gravel, at Murrays Corner.

Hours 22 and 23 were essentially more of the same. Here's local man David McCowen's look at the battle for third place.

Presently, the two Holden Monaros have had an untroubled run throughout the race, and look to maintain their status for an impressive 1-2 finish. However, the race for third has reached its climax as two countries continue to vie for dais glory.

The Falken Tyres Porsche is piloted by local Bathurst gurus Paul Morris, Peter Fitzgerald, Scott Shearman and John Teulan. The Australians have entered a GT3 Carrera Cup that regularly competes on Australian soil, and they have been a strong force throughout the race. The Falken tyres team is presently third, having overtaken the Alzen Porsche in the 19th hour.

The German entry, Jurgen Alzen Motorsport, is crewed by four experienced German drivers in Jurgen and Uwe Alzen, Arno Klasen and Michael Bartels. This has been their first drive at Bathurst and they are thrilled with their progress to date. Arno Klasen, a veteran Nurburgring 24hr challenger describes his first lap at Mount Panorama as “a marvellous feeling, (because) the circuit has great atmosphere”

The virgin white Alzen Porsche was at first overcome by more powerful challengers, but as the race rolled on it developed a rhythm with the circuit that remains unbroken. When thunderstorms and pouring rain assaulted the circuit, the Alzen drivers drew on their immense collective experience to maintain neat, fast times in atrocious conditions, and as the sun greeted them this morning, they found themselves running third outright and first in class.

Klasen attributes the team’s undramatic run to the flag as “a result of good work from the team to prepare the car”, and because of the infallible nature of the German drivers in their adaptation to the ever-changing Bathurst conditions. Klasen’s departing comments as he prepared to strap into the 4th placed Porsche were “we hope for rain… in the case of rain we are able to catch (the) Falken Porsche.”

While the two Porsches are on the same lap and separated by mere seconds, there is a dark horse still lurking – waiting for a sniff of Porsche…. Unreliability? It has been an outstanding performance throughout the 24 hours by the Rollcentre Mosler.

The crowd cheered on Martin Short when he put together an amazing sequence of laps to catch, pass, and take a lap back from the indomitable Monaros. With an hour left the Mosler is six / seven laps behind the Alzen GT3.
David McCowen

Other than this long-standing scrap, it's been relatively uneventful as the second 24 Hours heads to a conclusion. Two dramas occurred just before the last hour began: firstly Ross Palmer's little S2000, with its very pretty green light beneath, struck the wall at 'Donut Corner'. It was too badly damaged to continue, and dribbled some fluids - green coolant? - across the track. Charlie 'Handlebars' Kovacs was the naughty chappie responsible.

Then the 427 Monaro pitted moments before the last hour started, for a routine stop and then for some kind of precautionary 'differential top up'. Suspicious Australian journos were wondering....was this a ploy to have Brock win the 24 Hours at his first attempt?

A more interesting scrap was that between Peter Hackett in the Diablo and Will Power in 888. 23 seconds, 38 minutes left.

Last Hour
But the 888 car was a late stopper and then stopper out on the track, so the Lamborghini took a well deserved seventh - behind the two Monaros, the Falken Porsche, the Alzen Porsche, the Rollcentre Mosler (first and only non-Porsche / Holden in the top seven) and the no.7 and no. 8 Porsches.

John Teulan in the third-placed Falken car expressed the view that "we were in the first car you can buy from the showroom floor."

So what happened between the Monaros? It was "hammer and tongs" according to Garth Tander, who chased Greg Murphy all the way home - including the pair lacking in 2:14.

"There was more carnage and debris during the last three laps than throughout the previous 24 hours," explained Tander.

It certainly was hairy old stuff, the slow cars behaving impeccably - or almost impeccably - as Murphy and Tander charged along nose to tail.

The official story was that a diff. oil cooler failed on the 427 car, causing the stop under a fortunate safety car period with an hour to go.

It was a classic endurance racing finish in so many ways. Just three and a half tenths between them after 527 laps.

"Has anyone ever seen a 24 hour race finish like that between two team cars," asked Peter Brock. Of course, no one had.

It was a thrilling finish. The race didn't really come alive throughout much of its duration, but the weather, the circuit, the hospitality, the friendship - the atmosphere. The three day crowd was 41,000, compared to 21,000 last year.

Overall a great success. Thanks Bathurst, thanks Australia.

"The call was made to have a fight at the finish," said 'Murph' at the press conference. "It's tough to go flat chat like that for three laps. I think we're first equal (he said on the podium)."

It was an exciting finish.

With thanks to everyone who helped make this such a meeting and event to remember.

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