Reigning champion Chaz Mostert crashed his Ford Falcon FG-X heavily in the opening session of qualifying for Bathurst 1000, on the ninth anniversary of Kiwi driver Mark Porter's fatal crash at Mt Panorama.
The car crashed through a marshall post before Forest Elbow with five people injured. Mostert, who was immediately airlifted to hospital, sustained a fractured left femur and left wrist, with the injuries potentially ruling out the 23-year-old from any further competition in 2015.
One of the marshalls was also taken to hospital, now in stable condition.
The incident ended the day’s racing, with the format for tomorrow now likely to be re-evalutated.
“Our number one priority is the safety of our drivers and officials. Our thoughts are with Chaz and his familiy and the marshalls who do an incredible job,” said category CEO James Warburton following the incident.
“I’d like to thank the specialist emergency response teams and medical staff at the circuit.”
Leading into the crash, the incredible speeds achieved by the V8 Supercar field had been the main talking point. Mostert’s teammate Cam Waters had set the initial tone in the co-driver’s practice session earlier in the day, clocking an impressive 2:05.7220. Freightliner Racing’s Luke Youlden — co-driver to Kiwi Fabian Coulthard — also successfully dipped into the 2:05s.
But it was Jamie Whincup who made the greatest statement of the day, pumping out a series-first 2:04.909 in the fifth and final practice session before qualifying — the quickest ever lap of Bathurst in a V8 Supercar. Scott Pye and his Penske Falcon FG-X was also impressive, only three-tenths behind the reigning series champion, with Jason Bright and his BOC Commodore clocking the third fastest time.
Of the Kiwi contingent, Coulthard was once again the quickest, ending practice five in fifth position, just ahead of Shane van Gisbergen in sixth. Volvo pilot Scott McLaughlin narrowly missed out on the top ten, setting the 11th fastest time of the session, with André Heimgartner peddling the Super Black Falcon to 17th.
Saturday’s format now hangs in the air, as the speeds continue to rise.