Jayden Ojeda and Simon Hodges have won an extraordinary Bathurst 6 Hour in their BMW M4, in a race that featured a record 12 safety cars and the event’s first-ever red flag.
The race seemed destined to finish under safety car when it was called for the 12th and final time after Coleby Cowham and Paul Loiacano both found the wall at Murrays Corner and Forrests Elbow respectively with three minutes to go.
However, quick work by track officials allowed for a one lap trophy dash to decide the result.
Ojeda held his nerve to claim a career-defining win, closely followed by Drew Russell after another brilliant performance in the Go-Karts-Go BMW M3 he shared with father Wayne and brother Aaren.
The outright and Class X podiums were rounded out by the Anthony Soole/Adam Burgess/Anton De Pasquale BMW M4 after third on-road Tyler Everingham was handed a 15-second penalty for passing De Pasquale under safety car conditions.
The Class A2 race went down to the final millimetres as Ryder Quinn beat Ryan Casha by 0.098s at the line to claim 7th outright and a remarkable victory.
Quinn shared his Ford Mustang Mach 1 with grandfather Tony Quinn and Grant Denyer, whilst Casha teamed up with Chris Delfsma and Rylan Grey in a Ford Mustang GT.
The second half of the race began with the sixth safety car period of the day, unfortunately, triggered by the all-Kiwi Class D Mazda RX-8 which was being driven by Kris Mackie at the time. The Kiwi uncharacteristically went too deep into Hell Corner on Lap 60, running through the dirt before spinning across the track and into the inside barrier, forcing them from the race.
“It’s been such an exciting weekend, but all that excitement was gone in seconds,” a dejected Mackie said to Velocity News following the race. “I’m so sorry to Ash [McConchie] and Jarrod [Parmenter] for ruining the party.”
Despite the weekend not finishing in perfect fashion, the trio performed incredibly well on their first visit to the unforgiving track. All three had shown great pace throughout the weekend with Parmenter even managing to qualify third of the Class D field.
The race was suspended on lap 66 when the Class B2 Holden SSV 6.0 of Michael Ferns suffered a catastrophic engine failure at The Chase, dumping oil from the kink to the left-hander at turn 21.
Several cars fired off the track in the ensuing melee, though none made contact with each other or the wall, forcing race control to suspend the race to clean up the oil slick.
Following the 20-minute stoppage, the race resumed with just over two hours left on the clock, and all the leading contenders requiring two more compulsory pit stops.
The race was once again neutralised 10 minutes later when the Class A2 Lexus RC F driven by Keith Bensley hit the wall at McPhillamy Park after contact with the Class C HSV VXR driven by Ben McLeod.
Another of the key contenders dropped out at the same time, as the Grant Sherrin/Iain Sherrin BMW M4 in Class X was forced to retire with a broken rear subframe.
The tenth safety car of the day was deployed with an hour and ten minutes to go when the Class A2 HSV ClubSport R8 stopped at The Cutting with Paul Razum at the helm.
This resulted in all the front runners diving into the pit lane for their final stops, with Jayden Ojeda vaulting to the lead after making an untimed additional pit stop as opposed to those making their final timed compulsory stops.
The car that had dominated Class C all weekend, the Jake Camilleri/Scott Nicholas Mazda 3 MPS also ground to a halt during the safety car and dropped out of contention for the class win.
The race restarted on lap 89 with 56 minutes left on the clock, and the fastest car of the weekend, the Beric Lynton/Tim Leahey/Will Davison BMW M3 in Class X, dropped out of contention with a punctured front left tyre.
With 37 minutes left on the clock, the safety car was once again called upon for the 11th time today when the Class D Honda Integra Type R driven by Jason Walsh expired on the exit of Hell Corner before the exciting finish.
Dean Campbell/Cameron Crick won Class A1 and finished 8th outright in their Mitsubishi Evo X after Crick passed Dylan O’Keeffe’s Mercedes-AMG A 45 inside the final 20 minutes.
Class B1 was taken out by the BMW 135i of Scott Turner/Jordan Cox/Rob Rubis, who clinched a top ten outright result in 10th.
The Toyota 86 GTS of Murray Dowsett/Mitchell Maddren/Lachlan Bloxsom took Class D honours with an impressive run to 11th outright.
Class C saw an extraordinary conclusion as the HSV VXR of Brock Giblin/Ben McLeod overcame a driveshaft failure in the final 30 minutes to claim victory in 15th outright after the HSV VRX of Chris Holdt/David Ling/Darren Jenkins lost the lead on the final lap.
Class E was clinched by the Mazda 3 SP25 of Andrew Jackman/Cameron Beller/Mark Taubitz in 19th outright.
Class B2 was won by the Holden SSV 6.0 of Brent Edwards/Cody McKay/Bradley McDonald in 36th outright in what was a race of attrition.
Words & Images: Supplied
Additional Reporting: Matthew Sampson