SYDNEY (Reuters) - New Zealand’s Shane van Ginsbergen won his first Bathurst 1000, Australia’s most iconic motor race, on Sunday in front of a small crowd around a Mount Panorama circuit that is normally teeming with hundreds of thousands of spectators.
Australia’s Cameron Waters, who had started on pole, finished second, while Chaz Mostert was third in “The Great Race”, which normally attracts some 200,000 enthusiasts to the inland city about 200 km (120 miles) from Sydney.
Restrictions to curb the spread of the new coronavirus limited the number of fans this year to just 4,000 per day.
Van Ginsbergen and co-driver Garth Tander’s victory will end some bitter memories from 2019 when they finished second behind Scott McLaughlin, who finished fifth on Sunday.
“It was just awesome,” said van Ginsbergen, who also had to contend with two safety cars in the final 10 laps while he fought off a fast-finishing Waters. “Stoked to finally win this race.
“The team did a faultless job. What a great way to send out Holden,” he added of the car which is being discontinued.
New Zealand’s McLaughlin had already secured his third successive Supercars championship title in the last race in South Australia in a season that was badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Four-time race winner Jamie Whincup crashed out on the 33rd lap after taking the fourth corner, known as The Cutting, too wide as he headed up the mountain and crashed into the safety barriers.
“I was pushing hard to get through and trying to get up the road,” said Whincup, whose co-driver was seven-time winner Craig Lowndes.
“In hindsight I should have waited another lap.”
The crash dropped him to fourth in the overall championship standings with Waters moving into second and van Ginsbergen to third.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by William Mallard
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