The annual Bathurst saloon car race ended on somewhat of a low note this year amidst a mass of controversy. This legendary race, held in Australia, acted as the eighth round of the World Touring Car Championship and nearly all of the European teams made it “down under” to take on the Australian outfits on their home ground.
As usual the Hardies Heroes one-lap qualification run was staged with a massive $20,000 prize fund for the team which took pole. Only one blistering lap is allowed, and this time it was the Eggenberger-run works Fords which dominated. Klaus Ludwig and his Sierra RS500 Cosworth took pole and cash on 2min 16.969sec. Fractionally behind was Britain’s Andy Rouse and his Cosworth, with Steve Soper taking third.
The race started amidst acrimony with the Eggenberger cars running under a cloud. A question mark hung over the legality of the car’s arches, and the matter was referred back to Europe.
A total of 161 laps were on the cards for the race, and the Fords of Soper/Pierre Dieudonné and Niedzwiedz/Ludwig led from the start. The pairing came under constant pressure throughout , but managed to hold off any serious challenges to take the spoils.
Australian heroes Peter Brock/Peter MacLeod/David Parsons gave chase throughout with their Holden Commodore, but could not stop the Ford onslaught. BMW’s hopes lay with Roberto Ravaglia/Markus Oestreich/Roland Ratzenberger, but came to nought when they were forced to retire with engine problems.
After the race there was further dispute, with fuel samples taken from the winning Fords and sent away for analysis. They later proved to be legal. TW