Mercedes-AMG achieve second LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour victory in emphatic style
It was a victorious return to the Mountain by Mercedes-AMG as the SunEnergy1 Racing/Triple Eight Race Engineering entry greeted the chequered flag following a gruelling LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour event.
A winner for Bentley in its triumphant 2020 success, Jules Gounon made it two on the trot holding off fellow Mercedes-AMG GT3 driver Maro Engel in the Craft Bamboo Racing example for much of the final two hours within a 10s margin, but finally it was just 8.7s.
Gounon sharing with ex-pat Aussie Kenny Habul, Martin Konrad and German ace Luca Stolz led for a majority of the second half.
Craft Bamboo Racing’s performance was further emphasised by yesterday’s last minute engine change, which forced its Mercedes-AMG GT3 out of qualifying and start from the rear of this morning’s grid.
Rounding out a Mercedes-AMG GT3 lockout of the podium was the Mann Filter-supported Triple Eight Race Engineering entry of Shane van Gisbergen, Broc Feeney and Prince Jefri Ibrahim, which also took out Motorsport Australia Endurance Championship honours in its opening round.
Second place in the Motorsport Australia Endurance Championship results in addition to fourth outright was Kelvin van der Linde, Nathanael Berthon and Brad Schumacher in the lead Audi Sport Customer Racing Australia R8 LMS GT3 Evo II. It came after a two minute penalty was applied after a driver time infraction finishing a lap down to the leader.
In an impressive fifth was third place in the Motorsport Australia Endurance Championship was the Wall Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo shared by Tony D’Alberto, Adrian Deitz, David Wall and Grant Denyer.
Lee Holdsworth, Marc Cini and Dean Fiore finished behind in both standings in their Hallmarc Racing Audi. A spin and a driver infraction penalty hampered the second Audi Sport Customer Racing Australia entry in seventh with reigning Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS winner Yasser Shahin, Ricardo Feller and Markus Winkelhock.
After an event of trials and tribulations, the Team BRM Audi finished inside the top 10 following stunning stints from Joey Mawson and Nick Percat, who were joined by car owner Mark Rosser.
Another entry to experience a remarkable journey across the weekend also achieved a top 10 as James Koundouris, Paul Stokell and David Russell shared the driving duties of the Supabarn Supermarkets Audi to finish in ninth, which was first in the Motorsport Australia Endurance Championship Am Class.
Koundouris’ brother Theo, who crashed the Audi during practice on Friday leading to a rebuild of a new chassis failed to take part in the race due to the incident.
Rounding out the top 10 was the Class B Porsche 991 GT3 Cup Car run by Ashley Seward Motorsport spearheaded by Craig Lowndes, Alex Davison, Geoff Emery and Scott Taylor in another incredible result.
It was a tale of woe for other entries linked to the Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS.
A tyre failure resulting in a spin dropped the C-Tech Laser Audi of Tony Bates, Cameron Waters and David Reynolds out of contention close to the halfway mark, though it continued to be 11th.
An early incident for the Valmont Racing Mercedes-AMG shared by Duvashen Padayachee, Sergio Pires and Marcel Zalloua forced it into the pits for lengthy repairs, although it returned to the track, it was not counted.
Grove Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3-R crashed out in the seventh hour, as did the RAM Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 within minutes of each other.
The pole sitting Coinspot Audi had a drama early after a collision with the Wall Racing Lamborghini at Forrest’s Elbow, but later mechanical problems and a touch of the concrete across the top dropped resulted in race ending damage.
Also, early retirements were the Grifcorp Mercedes-AMG GT3 and the M Motorsport KTM X-Bow GT2.
The second and final round for the Motorsport Australia Endurance Championship is at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst International on November 11-13.
The next round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS is at Queensland Raceway on August 5-7.