If there's one moment you watch from this year's crazy Bathurst 12 Hour race, it's the very end. A late safety car bunched up traffic, instantly transforming a lengthy endurance race into a four-minute sprint.
Race leader Matt Bell already had enough of the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour's record number of safety cars, as he was just starting to pull away from the Audi R8 driven by Laurens Vanthoor that was on his Bentley Continental GT3's tail. The ninteenth safety car of the race came back into the pits with about fifteen minutes left in the race. Bell took a defensive line all around the track to keep the faster Audi of Vanthoor behind him and it was finally paying off. The Audi had darted and weaved so much to try and find a line around Bell that it was dropping further behind the Bentley.
However, a twentieth safety car came out with less than ten minutes to go in the race. A Porsche was stalled in a sand trap just off track, and a recovery crew was sent to fish it out.
Announcers started yelling that we've been robbed of a great finish. Or were we?
Bell versus the rest of the top 4 was turning into the battle of the race. Behind Vanthoor was the Aston Martin of Stefan Mücke and the Nissan GT-R of Katsumasa Chiyo. Neither of them wanted to give up hope for the win, either.
Then something wonderful happened: the recovery crew ditched their usual protocol for sand-trapped cars and simply fished the Porsche out, allowing it to drive back into the pits. It wasn't in contention for the win anymore, of course, but this quick move allowed the safety car to come off track with four minutes to go.
This final four minutes of green flag racing not only featured seven different makes of car in the top seven cars, but it also completely reshuffled the top four finishers.
Chiyo immediately jumped ahead of the Aston Martin and Audi, moving from fourth to second in the GT-R in a single, graceful pass that's an early candidate for Pass of the Year. He then made short work of passing Bell's Bentley.
The battle wasn't over until the checkered flag dropped, though. Another tense lap went by. Could the Audi finally pass the Bentley? Matt Bell wasn't keen on giving up second place and falling further behind. Vanthoor tried an outside pass in the esses down the hill. That didn't work.
Then Mücke's Aston Martin sped past the Audi on the Conrod Straight. Not to give up and fade away into third, however, both cars ended up passing Bell when his Bentley went wide in the final corner and let the two rivals through.
Bell had already been to the medical center for exhaustion earlier in the day and had just spent most of the race's final laps watching his mirrors. He was probably dog tired at this point, and thus, a big mistake was made. No podium for the Bentley team.
Here's the video of the race's final laps, as you have to see them to believe them:
Nissan, I think we all know who one of your other LMP1 drivers should be now.
Chiyo's teammates were no slouches, either. Both Florian Strauss and Wolfgang Reip were graduates of Nissan's GT Academy, further proving that Nismo may have stumbled on the best development program in racing with the Gran Turismo folks.