Orange motor racing guru Tim Leahey enjoyed a stellar Bathurst 6 Hour campaign with Beric Lynton in the Bruce Lynton BMW 1M, finishing fourth at the iconic Mount Panorama circuit on Sunday.
Leahey and Lynton maintained pace with the eventual winners – Paul Morris and Luke Searle in their Roadchill Freight Express BMW M135i – finishing on the lead lap, 41.485 seconds behind.
The experienced pairing produced early speed, leading the race at varying points of the six-hour enduroof it, setting a cracking time of 2.27:858 on lap 54, averaging 151 kilometres per-hour during that hot lap.
Most of the rest of the lead group didn’t post their best lap times until later in the race, Morris and Searle clocking their fastest on lap 110.
Speed late in the piece was was key behind the champs eventual win, Morris calling Mount Panorama a “magical place” after what played out at the famous Bathurst circuit on Sunday.
Morris watched the closing stages of the Bathurst 6 Hour from Pit Lane and saw his team-mate Luke Searle pull off a passing move through The Chase to take the outright lead from defending champion Chaz Mostert.
Searle held on for the final four minutes to claim the chequered flag.
The delight for both men was clear to see, Morris fighting back tears while Searle playfully kissed his team-mate on the cheek as they stood on the podium together.
“I'm always emotional when I come here, it's a pretty magical place,” Morris said.
"It's awesome, I can't believe it. It's a good place to come and race and a great bunch of guys.
"To be able to put a bunch of guys together and work together as a team - everyone has got day jobs, but then you come here and win a car race like this, it's pretty cool.
"We all hung in there tough and we all did exactly what we had to do all day and that is how you get the win.”
The win etched Morris’ name into the Bathurst history book as the first driver to record a victory in the Bathurst 6 Hour, Bathurst 12 Hour and Bathurst 1000 endurance events.
He took out the 2014 Great Race in a Ford FG Falcon with Sunday’s Bathurst 6 Hour runner-up Mostert, that victory one of the more remarkable seen at the Mount given they came from the rear of the grid.
Morris’ 12 Hour victories both came behind the wheel of a BMW 335i – in 2010 as a team-mate of John Bowe and Garry Holt, and in 2007 with Holt and Craig Baird.
Though the Queenslander played his role in those success stories, and did a solid job on Sunday to complete the treble, he deflected praise away from himself.
Instead he talked about Searle’s effort, which rates as the finest moment in his motor sport career.
Searle had previously been a two-time class winner in the Bathurst 12 Hour, taking Class C honours in 2008 with Peter Kelly and tasting Class A victory the following year with Barry Morcom and Paul Stubber.
"I am just stoked for Luke really, he is one of Australia's best drivers but he is one of those guys who slipped through the net, he never quite got a professional drive, but man did he wield that car today,” Morris said.
"Was he the right man to have in the car at the end of the day? You just saw he was for sure.
"It's never over until it's over here. I know what this place is like, you only have to lead the last lap.
"When that safety car came out the the tyres cooled down, we had a bit of a speak over the radio about where we could make a little bit of time up in the car. Luke adjusted his driving and it was on.
"To be hunting down Chaz at the end of the race there must've been an awesome feeling. He didn't crack under pressure.”