Sunday, February 8, 2015

Bathurst 12 Hour: Class victory and podium results for the Audi teams at Mount Panorama

By Johan Laubscher

The 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour concluded with a nail-biting finish which saw seven manufactures represented within the top seven finishers.

Phoenix Racing’s #15 Audi R8 LMS ultra of Laurens Vanthoor, Markus Winkelhock and Marco Mapelli had been the leading Audi all weekend and started the once-around the clock challenge from pole position. The trio were very competitive and remained within the lead battle throughout the race which came down to a dash to the flag. The closing stages saw a titanic battle between Vanthoor's Audi and Bell's Bentley, before a brief safety car period set up a two-lap sprint to the flag.

Vanthoor was lying second on the restart, behind Matt Bell’s Bentley and ahead of Katsumasa Chiyo's Nissan. The Nissan moved passed the Audi on the restart and subsequently took the lead on Mountain Straight. Matt Bell defended from Vanthoor, who in turn was closely pursued by Stefan Mücke in an Aston Martin. Mücke managed to drag past Vanthoor down Conrod Straight on the final lap and challenged Matt Bell coming into the final corner. A touch between Mücke and Bell allowed Vanthoor to slip though and he claimed second position in what was a very exciting finish. The second place result also netted the Class A - GT3 Pro-AM (AP) victory for Phoenix Racing, who finished behind the race winning Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 that was entered in the Class A - GT3 AM category.

The second Audi R8 LMS ultra from Phoenix Racing finished ninth overall, rounding out the two Audis within the overall top ten. The #16 Phoenix “Crocodile” Audi R8 LMS ultra was driven by Felix Baumgartner, Christopher Haase and Stéphane Ortelli.

There was podium success too for Melbourne Performance Centre and the Marc Cini and Mark Eddy owned #9 Audi R8 LMS ultra. The duo were joined by Christopher Mies and drove to third position in the Class A - GT3 AM (AA) class, tenth place overall.

The JAMEC-PEM Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra cars finished twelfth and thirteenth overall, fourth and fifth in the AM class respectively. It was the #75 Audi R8 LMS ultra of Steven McLaughlan, James Winslow and Dean Koutsoumidis ahead of their teammates Warren Luff, Alessandro Latif and Greg Crick in the #74 Audi.

EVA Racing was next across the line behind the two JAMEC-PEM Audis. Peter Fitzgerald, Michael Almond and Matt Halliday finished fourteenth overall and sixth in the AM class with the #2 Audi R8 LMS ultra.

The #5 Skwirk Audi R8 LMS ultra of Rod Salmon, Nathan Antunes and Oliver Gavin unfortunately suffered retirement on lap 104 when Antunes made contact with the wall in the Cutting. The damage to the right-rear ended their race.

Kintyre Racing (PPE) had been running well with their Audi TT RS in Class D, but an accident during a caution period ended their participation before the half distance mark of the race. The #55 TT RS was driven by Matt Cherry, Glynn Crimp and Stuart Kostera.

The Bathurst 12 Hour weekend’s results can be seen HERE.

It was certainly a very exciting race and the top seven being represented by seven different manufacturers is a further testament to the successful GT3 formula on the international stage.

Photo credit: Bathurst 12 Hour