LOWNDES, WHINCUP AND VILANDER WIN FOR FERRARI
CRAIG LOWNDES, Jamie Whincup and Toni Vilander have won the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour after yet another dramatic conclusion to a Bathurst enduro.
The Maranello Motorsport Ferrari trio outlasted the most competitive field the race has yet seen to win – but the dramatic final hour of the race once again provided compelling viewing, as a late challenge for victory by the No. 22 Scott Taylor Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT3 came close to victory but ultimately ended in a non-finish.
Defending 12-hour winner Shane van Gisbergen emerged in the lead after the final round of pit stops, narrowly heading Jamie Whincup in the Maranello Ferrari by two seconds.
The pair then staged a thrilling duel for the lead with Whincup putting two wheels on the grass to pass van Gisbergen down Conrod straight before pulling away in front as the race reached its final 45-minutes.
However a late Safety Car within the final 20 minutes re-closed the gap between the pair, only for van Gisbergen to sensationally crash out of the race at the dipper once the race had resumed, denying him, Maro Engel and Craig Baird second place.
Whincup then survived a final safety car interruption in the final 15 minutes before bringing the Ferrari home for the brands second Bathurst victory, backing up their 2014 effort.
The result delivered Whincup and Vilander their first Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour victories and Lowndes his second, the winners completing 290 laps – 1978km - of Mount Panorama en route to victory.
“It was quite ironic that me and my teammate Gizzy were fighting for the win right at the end there,” Whincup said of battling his Red Bull HRT teammate for Bathurst victory.
“He was driving like he usually does, all over the place which is good! He’s hard and fair. Certainly enjoyed the battle, there is always a bit of grass action when we’re rubbing panels.”
Added Vilander: “Yeah, you know sometimes you have those days, clear track and just felt really comfortable in the car. Even all the traffic seemed like it was dropping in the right places with the right timing.
“I had clear air with the car and it felt like it was working perfectly. Even the tyres, I never had to go offline. Sometimes when you’re fast feels like it’s easier so today was definitely one of those days.”
Lowndes celebrated his second 12-hour victory, adding to his six wins in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
“I did a lot of the morning shift and looked out for the traffic and brought the car home clean until the restart of my final stint. For me, as Tony said, the car, we rolled it out and didn’t do much with over the course of the couple of days. It was a much nicer car than the 458 over the top of the mountain for both Jamie and I to get familiar with the car.
“We did have a good lead into this weekend and we did have some issues but we rectified that. With Tony putting it on pole yesterday we knew that we had a strong car, we just didn’t know who else was going to be strong for the day.”
Van Gisbergen’s late race dramas – that also included a looming penalty for contact with a lapped vehicle - elevated the Ice Break Competition Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3R to second place, Marc Lieb, Patrick Long, Matt Campbell and David Calvert Jones delivering Porsche’s latest racer a Bathurst podium on debut. The quartet also won the B.R.M watches Pro/Am class thanks to their sensational performance.
Third was the Bentley Team M-Sport No. 17 car driven by Steven Kane, Guy Smith and Oliver Jarvis – Kane and Smith on the Bathurst podium for the second time in two years.
The No. 912 Walkinshaw Racing Porsche driven by Liam Talbot, John Martin and Duvashen Padayachee finished a solid fourth outright – and first in the GT3-AM class – after their higher profile teammates in the No. 911 car were out with damage early in the day.
Defending champions TEKNO Autosports were unable to back up their 2016 success, though a dogged performance from Come Ledogar, Rob Bell and Alvaro Parente saw the No. 1 car score fifth at the finish.
As usual the race claimed high powered combinations early in the running, 24 cars failing to finish from the 52 starters.
Noted non-finishers included the No. 74 Jamec-Pem Audi, who crashed at the Dipper on lap six, and the Class B Pole sitting Porsche from Grove racing: out after 32 laps after making contact with the wall at Reid Park.
The No. 911 Porsche GT3R of Kevin Estre, Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor had a share of the lead early, however contact with a wall saw broken steering force the car out.
The profile Mark Skaife / Russell Ingall / Tony Longhurst / Timo Glock BMW Team SRM M6 GT3 was out after five hours after Ingall hit the wall at the Dipper.
Starting from the back of the field after a last minute engine change last night, the 650S GT3 had engine dramas early in the race and dropped two laps off the pace. A stunning charge through the field saw them regain one full lap en route to a solid top five.
Dean Grant, Dylan O’Keefe and David Wall won Myplates.com.au Class B, while the No. 19 Porsche Cayman of PRO Sport performance won AVIS Class C.
A tight battle to the line in the Racer Industries Invitational class saw Keith Kassulke, Will Brown and Rod Salmon edge out their teammates by less than 10 seconds to grab the win.
Today’s race featured 16 interruptions by the Mercedes AMG C63 Safety Car, seven different race leaders and 23 changes of the lead, at the start finish line.
40,364 people attended the 2017 event, a 9% increase on 2016.
LIQUI-MOLY BATHURST 12 HOUR QUOTEBOARD:
Maranello Motorsport – Ferrari 488 GT3
“Yeah, thank you. Obviously it was a great day for us and it’s my debut into GT racing, a lot of my teammates at 888 it was their first time as well. Massive thank you to Maranello and of course to Peter Edwards, the owner of our million dollar Ferrari 488. It was a fantastic day, it was fantastic team work, we pitted at the right times. The blokes besides me did an amazing job and it was just up to me to bring it home at the end.
It was quite ironic that me and my teammate Gizzy were fighting for the win right at the end there. He was driving like he usually does, all over the place which is good, he’s hard and fair. Certainly enjoyed the battle, there is always a bit of grass action when we’re rubbing panels.
“Yeah that was strategic, we made a call do we want to put tyres on and loose track position or do we want to keep track position on older tyres? So I made a call at the end there to put some new bags on and it was the right call. The car had great pace. It was very good down the straight, not the quickest down the straight these boys besides me were absolute rockets and the Nissan wound it up again at the last five laps. All in all a massively enjoyable week for us they’re great cars. Couldn’t believe the traffic, I’m not used to so much traffic. Very nice that the Skippies kept to the other paddock and didn’t go on the track. It’s a long, long day, but I’ll certainly be back.
“Yeah, you know sometimes you have those days, clear track and just felt really comfortable in the car. Even all the traffic seemed like it was dropping in the right places with the right timing. Had clear air with the car and it felt like it was working perfectly. Even the tyres, I never had to go offline. Sometimes when you’re fast feels like it’s easier so today was definitely one of those days.”
“It’s a big thing, but more than a Ferrari against I was fed up with all the stories that he is the only Finn who can win here so now we’re even at least. No, it’s a big thing. There are still races for me to win, Sebring, Daytona – and this was one of those as well and now this is done. I’m really, really happy, really, really proud – it was a great team. Sometimes when you start the day you have a feeling something good might happen and here we are – winners.
“My day was actually quite easy. I did a lot of the morning shift and looked out for the traffic and brought the car home clean until the restart of my final stint. For me, as Tony said, the car, we rolled it out and didn’t do much with over the course of the couple of days. It was a much nicer car than the 458 over the top of the mountain for both Jamie and I to get familiar with the car. We did have a good lead into this weekend and we did have some issues but we rectified that. With Tony putting it on pole yesterday we knew that we had a strong car, we just didn’t know who else was going to be strong for the day.
“The main objective for me was to stay out of trouble, keep it on the lead lap which I was lucky to do getting out of the gravel trap. So, that for me was most important to stay on the lead lap. We knew we had good car pace to come back and to really for me, it was an enjoyable day to part of the crew. AS Jamie said, there are a lot of 888 guys who have come across from Supercar land it’s really opened their eyes to see what GT world is all about. And 12 hour racing, normally we race in in October and its only six and a half hours, so we’ll come back in October and think it’s a sprint race.
Ice Break Competition Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R
“It was quite an interesting race, the car has been fantastic throughout the whole weekend from day one on. We were up to the pace from the start and it was a good job by the team. We cycled through the race, we had some small incidents but of course were always fighting back. Sometimes we were lucky with the safety cars but at the end there weren’t enough yellows to catch it back and we were missing a bit of speed at the end, but anyway I think we are very happy with the second overall and the win in the class. It has been a fantastic weekend.”
“We came here with two objectives. One was to do as well as we could and the second, which was a close second, was to have fun. CJ (David Calvert-Jones) has been a great friend, we are both based in Los Angeles, this has been something Marc and I have been talking about for quite a few months to get back over here and try and go for an overall.
“Matt was a great late addition, we took a look at the rules and thought that four would be the best way and he became available and it all just worked out great. Like Marc said, it was an adventurous day, you have to race hard and you have to fight because you know there is going to be yellows and track position means a lot. At the end there might have been an incident or two I could have taken back and done a little different but no regrets, looking forward we had a strong GT3 – R and it held up.”
“I had two final stints to go and we were running third at the time and we had good pace and I just made a massive mistake there in my final stint (regarding the contact with the #32). I slipped off the brake pedal and it was totally my fault and cost us a bit of time but thankfully we were able to get it turned around and continue on without too much damage. I am very thankful it wasn’t too much worse, it could have been a lot worse, it was an up and down day but thankfully it came out on top.”
“I am pretty good right now. It has been a great adventure, fourth time here, thanks to Patrick for being my mentor and helped me putting these programs together, along with Ice Break and Virgin who have stepped up to get us here. It has been amazing. I can’t thank Patrick enough for coming out and for Marc, and amazing addition to the team. It was just going to be the three of us and then Matt became available last week, we asked him if he wanted to come for a drive and the two older boys threw him in the fire and made him work. Thanks to all those guys and all the organisers and especially McElrea Racing for all they did for us.”
#17 Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3
“We came here with a brand new car on Friday and we hadn’t even run it, so we lost a bit of time during qualifying and we just didn’t have the pace so we ended up 24th. To finish on the podium again is just amazing and the team did a really good job with strategy. Oliver was learning the car this weekend, it was his first time in the car in the dry, he did an amazing job and so did Guy, he is getting old but he still has the speed. It is a really good result for the start of our season, finishing third. We wanted to come here and go a bit better and finish first but it didn’t happen, but we are pleased with first.”
“I am pretty happy I have to say, this is an incredible place and I don’t think I have ever been in a race as brutal as that. I have been involved in a lot of endurance racing but I have never seen so much carnage within the first three or four hours of a race and some of the top drivers sticking it into the wall. We had a game plan simply to stay on the lead lap. We didn’t have a great run up to the race with a lot of issues with the brand new car but the team did a fantastic job. It didn’t stay issue free throughout the race, but coming out third is a great result and a credit to my team mates. We didn’t quite have the pace of Ferrari boys next to me, so congratulations to them, and we will take the third and celebrate tonight.”
“As the guys said we didn’t really have the pace so we were just trying to make sure we stayed on the track and the lead lap. We had a couple of issues throughout the race and basically were just trying to stay on the lead lap, ultimately we didn’t have the pace though. If you had told us last night after qualifying 24th that we would be on the podium tomorrow we would have taken it all day long. We are very happy, the team did a fantastic job and congrats to all the guys here for a great race.”