Champ to cramp: ‘Saddest day of my life’
A HEARTBROKEN David Reynolds was overwhelmed by anxiety in the build-up to his Bathurst 1000 title defence, causing cramps that forced a sensational late retirement from the race.
Having started in pole position, Reynolds led for most of the race before eventual winner Craig Lowndes passed him on lap 135 of 161.
The 33-year-old was given a specially formulated drink during the next pit stop but it failed to help, and his cramping leg couldn't hold the clutch in, causing his rear tyre to spin.
That resulted in a drive-through penalty that dropped Reynolds back to seventh, and in agony he pitted again soon after for co-driver Luke Youlden to finish in 13th place.
Lack of sleep was compounded by dehydration that left his legs in so much pain he had to be carried away from his Holden Commodore after that change.
As he received a massage on both calves in his Erebus Motorsport truck as Lowndes was being crowned champion, Reynolds said he had endured insomnia throughout the week.
"I didn't handle the build-up very well," Reynolds said.
"I hadn't been sleeping well, anxiety. I just want to do well. I had a fast car and I just can't believe that happened to me.
"It's probably the saddest day of my life. As far as my career goes I feel like it is."
Reynolds qualified fastest on Saturday despite feeling fatigued.
"I was probably running on 70 per cent yesterday (Saturday), I was pretty tired," Reynolds said.
"And I've been running on 50 per cent today (Sunday), and it came down to zero during the race when it was probably the most important part of the race.
"I haven't looked after myself the last couple of days, been run off my feet.
"When I first jumped in the car for that first stint, the car was very, very hot, and I was whingeing on the radio and I think that just dehydrated me.
"And I was finding it very difficult to concentrate, all day it was very difficult to concentrate.
"I ended up dehydrating myself and my mind was saying to go, my body was saying no.
"I'm so devastated. We had the fastest car in any condition, and we just lost it. And I'm gutted, absolutely gutted, not for myself but for the team.
"Before Lowndesy passed me, he was catching me, and that's when it kind of happened.
"Before then I was still half with it, and then when he caught me something just happened. When he passed me I was at 50 per cent throttle. I couldn't actually tell my brain to press down any harder because there was so much pain and I was trying to come off the pedal and put myself on the brake but my body was saying no. It was frozen rock solid."
Team Erebus owner Betty Klimenko refused to blame Reynolds as he limped back into the garage.
"They say if you can't get over something in the first 15 minutes in this sport, you don't belong in this sport. I'm over it," Klimenko said.
"This is Bathurst, these things happen. We've got something to chase next year.
"He's going to kick himself from here to kingdom come. He'll question himself, then he'll question everything that he did, then he'll come around and make adjustments for the next Bathurst."