Wheely bad luck for Whincup at Bathurst

A LOOSE wheel nut has all but ended Jamie Whincup's hopes of defending his Supercars championship or claiming the Bathurst 1000.

Whincup was powerless as his co-driver Paul Dumbrell lost his right front wheel down the home straight at Mount Panorama.

The wheel took off at high speed yet Dumbrell incredibly managed to steer the Red Bull Racing Commodore home over a full lap on just three tyres.A faulty wheel nut was found to be the culprit after a lengthy stay in the pits.

Dumbrell held his helmet in his hands as he waited for his team engineers to restore his Commodore, re-entering almost two laps behind the pack. Light drizzle around the higher parts of the circuit led officials to declare the track wet after 57 laps of the 161-lap classic.

The three leading contenders after a third of the race were Fabian Coulthard, pole-sitter David Reynolds and Shane van Gisbergen.

Craig Lowndes, on his last full-time drive, is sitting inside the top 10. James Courtney was the first retirement; given the afternoon off after co-driver Jack Perkins reported an oil issue that required him to pull over and abandon their race.

"Jack and I might get on the beers now," the crestfallen ex-champion said. Chaz Mostert was involved in an unfortunate bingle with teammate Cam Waters' co- driver David Russell.

Mostert cut into Russell's braking room at Forrest's Elbow, sending him into the fence and a long stay in the garage - infuriating Waters.

"It's pretty dumb," Waters said.

"That's two years a row taken out by Chaz," he said before walking away mid- interview.

A voice could then be heard on the broadcast saying "I got f***ing done by a f***ing teammate".

Mostert was cleared by race officials but admitted he'd made a blue. "I ran out of room ... it definitely wasn't intentional," he said. "It's a real shame. If I could take it all back I'd wait for another opportunity."

Anton De Pasquale, who qualified third, was shuffled down the field when his passenger-side door car ajar and he was served a black flag.

Reynolds and Luke Youlden are shooting to become the first team to go back-to- back on Mount Panorama since Lowndes and Whincup's stunning three-peat from 2006 to 2008.


Mechanical part removed from Jamie Whincup's car of Red Bull Holden Racing team
Mechanical part removed from Jamie Whincup's car of Red Bull Holden Racing team