Bargwanna Clinches Title, McLeod Sweeps Round at Bathurst
Jude Bargwanna has been crowned the 2023 champion for the Kumho V8 Touring Car Championship after finishing second in a round dominated by Cameron McLeod at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst International.
The day’s first race was heavily interrupted by a safety car following a heavy crash at The Cutting on the opening lap involving Brendan Strong, Jason Foley, and Paul Boschert who all made contact with the wall after Strong and Foley collided.
Boschert was an innocent bystander as he followed Strong into the wall, whilst Foley spun into the wall further up the track, with all three cars ruled out of Race Three due to the damage sustained in the incident.
A lengthy clean up followed. leaving a one lap dash where McLeod set a lap record with a 2m 10.3859s, bettering the marker he set yesterday by eight tenths of a second.
Jude Bargwanna followed the Super3 star across the line, with the Anderson Motorsport driver mathematically sealing the championship with a race to spare.
Ryan Simpson continued his solid return to the Kumho V8 Touring Car Series with third in the Parramatta Smash Repairs Commodore.
The third and final race for the weekend ran to a completely different script, as McLeod bobbled then stalled off pole position, eventually getting underway some ten seconds behind the pack.
He would then be given a five second penalty for creeping over his grid box, adding to the task at hand for the Neill Motorsport Ford Falcon FG raced in the Supercars Championship by Shane van Gisbergen.
McLeod would be back up to second by the time the field got to the top of the mountain on lap two, however champion elect Jude Bargwanna had bolted to the tune of five seconds at the front of the field.
As McLeod crushed the margin to Bargwanna, there was plenty of action further back in the pack as the fight for third between Ray Hislop and Ryan Simpson raged for several laps, including Hislop thumping the wall on the exit of The Cutting on lap three.
Simpson would get the move done at The Chase on lap four, though by that stage Bargwanna was fifteen seconds up the road with McLeod rapidly closing.
The Super3 star would catch Bargwanna on lap five, having a look up the inside at Griffins Bend before the Anderson Motorsport Falcon swept across the nose of McLeod.
The superior straight line speed of McLeod allowed another attempt at a move down Conrod Straight, though Bargwanna once again held him off with some desperate defence.
McLeod would eventually get by Bargwanna at Griffins Bend the next time by, and set about building a big enough gap to keep the lead once the five second penalty was applied.
It went down to the wire, but McLeod eventually had a margin of five and a half seconds at the finish, doing just enough to stay ahead of Bargwanna in the final classification, with Simpson rounding out the podium in a strong return weekend.