THE 2019 Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour delivered sweet redemption for Beric Lynton and Tim Leahey, the BMW M3 duo powering to a record-breaking victory after being denied within sight of the flag last year.
Revenge for the pair came in dominant fashion, leading every lap en-route to a victory margin of more than one lap - though the margin belied a tense strategic battle that unfolded throughout the duration with close rivals Sherrin Racing.
Lynton, a two-time Production Car Champion, and the vastly experienced Leahey became the first combination to win from pole position as they set a new Bathurst 6 Hour race record distance of 131 laps (814 kilometres).
The race was the fastest in six-hour history and was only interrupted by three Safety Car periods throughout, the least in race history.
2018 winners Grant and Iain Sherrin finished second, the third time in four years the team has finished on the Bathurst 6 Hour podium.
A heroic charge to the line saw the Matt Holt / Nathan Callaghan / Chris Lillis HSV GTS finish third outright, only climbing to the final step on the podium in the final 10 laps as they hunted down and passed the BMW of Class B winners David and Geoff Russell. It marks the first time a V8-powered car has finished on the six-hour podium.
After being denied last year, the winning duo were relieved to finally break their six-hour hoodoo.
“Last year with 20 to go we all know what happened,” Leahey said.
“Today was a good day. We led from start to finish. From the start we had the extra pit stop, which we weren’t all that happy about, but we got away with it.
“It all worked out. The car was great. We didn’t have any mechanical issues like last year. We’ll take it and that will make my girls happy that I wasn’t there for the Easter egg hunt this morning!”
Lynton said he was thrilled to finally stand on the top step of the podium.
“Last year we built a car that we thought could win the race. In it’s first ever race it was so close so we had to come back and give it one more crack. We’ve ticked the box – it’s great.
“Even with two BoP penalties the team did a great job and it went our way. I’m really happy.”
The Sherrin Racing team’s remarkable record at Mount Panorama saw them secure second; an additional pit stop and a lack of yellow ensuring their strategy didn’t quite work again this year.
“It seems like the whole weekend has been a tough weekend for us,” Iain Sherrin said.
“Though the race, we kind of went a bit conservative with the stops and threw four tyres at it just to see what was happening, only to have the Safety Car to come out on my out lap and that basically put us a lap down straight away.
“Credit to the team and the car, I’m realty proud of the boys. We stuck at it and pulled the second place finish.
“You still want to be on the podium, it’s three out of four podiums for us at this event which is a credit to our team.”
The brave performance from the Cachet Homes HSV saw Nathan Callaghan hunt down David Russell in the closing stages: much to the elation of the privateer team.
“When I came out of the pits and saw the BMW coming up the hill – It’s nice to be able to push rather than try and stop the car breaking,” Callaghan said.
“It was fun I was happy that I could make up some ground. It was so hard racing through the traffic but I’m stoked.
“I always wanted to do this with the guys, build a car and do it on our terms and get on the Bathurst podium, and we’ve done it,” added Holt.
The combination also won the A2 class (Extreme Performance – Normally Aspirated).
Second went to the Garage 1 BMW M3 driven by Anthony Gilbertson and Andrew Mill, who finished eighth outright. Third was the Graeme Muir / Jamie Hodgson Commodore.
The father and son combination of David and Geoff Russell dominated class B, despite their car slowing in the closing stages and slipping back from a potential outright podium finish.
Scott Gore and Keith Bensley (BMW 135i) finished second in class, five laps behind but still ninth outright.
A dramatic end to the race saw the Class C lead change hands in the final six minutes, thanks to a thrilling drive by Jake Camilleri.
He gave the N-Gen Racing Hyundai team a Bathurst victory on debut as he hunted down and passed Jake Williams’ BMW within sight of the flag.
Camilleri shared the car with Alfie and Charlie Senese, while a disappointed Williams led for much of the day with co-driver Rodney Stait. Third was the second N-Gen Hyundai in a strong debut for the team.
A giant-killing performance saw Aaron Cameron, Kyle Gurton and Cooper Murray win Class D, by finishing an outstanding 13th outright in their Toyota 86.
In Class E, Andrew McMaster, David Worrell and David Noble had looked to defend their class victory, however were denied with a post-race five lap penalty. That handed the victory to the Suzuki Swift Sport of Michael Hopp and Steve Pittman.
30 of the 44 starters finished the race, while 18,045 people attended the three days of the 2019 event.
Earlier in the day the event and major sponsor HI-Tec Oils announced a four-year extension of their major partnership, taking the partnership through the 2023 race.
The Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour will return on the Easter Long weekend next year.