Well it wasn’t quite the finish we wanted, but it was a Bathurst I will never forget.
As everyone will know, the weekend got off to a controversial start when at a press conference I regrettably made a passing joke which offended some people. I will take this opportunity to again apologise for the offence caused. I also apologise to my team and sponsors. I was fined $25,000 by V8 Supercars. I’m glad the matter is now behind me and extend a thank you to all my friends, my family, my sponsors and team for remaining supportive and understanding nonetheless.
The Friday was a day I will always remember too, after Chaz Mostert crashed heavily during qualifying. It was a sobering reminder of just how dangerous Bathurst can be. Chaz’s crash impacted on the marshals as well, with some injured as a result. The impact was so violent that Chaz broke his leg and wrist. After being taken to hospital there was a sombre mood throughout the team and I was personally very upset by it.
Qualifying for the top 10 shootout was shifted to the Saturday. It’s amazing what a difference a day makes. The rain came down during the shootout and I was lucky enough to find myself securing pole position. I was so relieved to repay the team and my teammate Dean Canto. Dino did such a terrific job all week and he deserved it too.
I must admit to having some nerves when I woke up Sunday. Early on it was decided that Dean would start the race. After a blistering start Dino couldn’t find a balance in the car to hold off the cars behind him and eventually was passed. We were in the hunt all day and we led the race at times. But for whatever reason we just didn’t seem to have the pace where we wanted it and felt like we were chasing the set up all day. Nonetheless we emerged toward the front by the end of the race. When a final safety car emerged and after a last round of pit stops I was still in the hunt and found myself in 3rd spot after Jamie Whincup suffered a penalty.
Unfortunately I just didn’t have the pace to challenge Craig Lowndes for the chequered flag and faded to finish 6th place overall.
I want to thank everyone at PRA and The Bottle-O Racing team for a fantastic Bathurst campaign. A really big thanks to Dean Canto who again proved to be a fantastic co-driver and friend. Thanks also to all of our team sponsors and my own personal sponsors. I’ll take a few days to recover and get ready for the final race of the enduros – Gold Coast!