Bathurst 12H: Event race report
CLASSIC AUDI 1-2 AT BATHURST AS INTERNATIONALS UPSET AUSSIES
AUDI can now place their name alongside Holden and Ford as holders of classic Bathurst 1-2 finishes, after the pair of Audi R8 LMS GT3 cars from Audi Race Experience Team Joest swept the Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour today.
Just as Ford achieved in 1977, and Holden did in 1984, 2003 (Bathurst 24 Hour) and 2010, Audi orchestrated a near-perfect form finish today despite a race that remained unpredictable until the final ten minutes.
The car driven by Germans Marc Basseng, Christopher Mies and Chinese driver Darryl O'Young headed home the 'Aussie Audi' of Craig Lowndes, Mark Eddy and Warren Luff in a 1-2 result after tension-filled finale' to the race.
Both Audi's had to make unexpected pit stops within the final hour, with Lowndes' lead of 30-seconds evaporating when the No. 7 car was forced to pit with thirty minutes to go.
Despite a charge that saw Lowndes easily break the GT lap record, his lead was transformed into a near one-minute deficit in an instant and the race looked over for the crowd favourite; but the race still had one final turn before the flag fell.
Darryl O'Young was forced to pit car eight for a splash-and-dash stop within sight of the flag, ensuring the Audi team a chance to create a form-finish with Lowndes eventually following the sister car home by less than a second.
The leading cars competed 292 laps of the 6.213km Mount Panorama circuit, a total of 1,814.19 km - a record for the Event.
As usual Mount Panorama threw everything at teams, with sunshine quickly turning to a brief rain shower after the first three hours of racing.
The VIP Petfoods Porsche GT3 R of Tony Quinn, Klark Quinn and Craig Baird finished a valiant third, one lap behind the leading Audi's.
The Queensland-based team played a game of cat and mouse with the works Audi's throughout the race, only falling short when a risky pit-stop strategy didn't work as planned.
Described as a 'cunning plan' by team owner / driver Tony Quinn, the Porsche pitted at the end of the first lap and was one stop ahead of the Audi's for several hours before a badly-timed Safety Car slowed their charge.
Australian champion David Wall lead his team, along with Barton Mawer and Greg Crick, to fourth overall after struggling to match the outright pace of the top three cars during the race.
The Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car of Roger Lago / Matt Kingsley and David Russell punched above their weight all day to win the Century Batteries GT3 class, and score an outstanding 5th outright.
Despite being out-gunned by the more powerful top-flight GT3 teams, The Falcon Property Group entry dropped just ten laps to the race winner throughout the race and was one of a few cars to have an essentially trouble-free twelve hours.
Ferrari made it three different brands in the top six positions thanks to the Hector Lester / Allan Simonsen / Luke Searle F430 GT3, who endured several technical issues throughout the day to finish twelve laps behind the leader.
Two New Zealand entered Motorsport Services Porsche 996 GT3s (S.ODonnell/S.McLennan/ M.Konopka leading A.Dippie/S.Thompson/ M.Maddren) finished seventh and eighth, whilst the leading Production Cars completed the remainder of the top ten.
The top ten was well represented by five national and five international entrants, with 19 cars classified as finishers after the gruelling race.
Beric Lynton, Matt Mackelden and John Modystach outwitted and outlasted in a battle of survival in Pedigree GT Challenge class, after the Nissan GTR, Chevrolet Corvette and Lotus Exige all struck dramas throughout the race.
The team completed 242 laps, finishing more than 20 ahead of their nearest class rival.
Production cars have remained a high-profile feature of the Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour, with Peter Conroy, Anthony Robson and Mark Brame taking their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X to the Century Batteries Class D (Production - High Performance) victory after a close battle with BMW and another Mitsubishi.
The result was made more impressive by the fact they scored ninth outright against the GT cars, and completed 256 laps - one short of the most ever by a production car since the race returned in 2007.
The GWS Personnel BMW 335i turbo finished second in class, ahead of the consistent Ford FPV GT-P driven by V8 Supercar driver Steven Johnson, Nathan Tinkler and Jeremy Gray.
In Racer Industries Class E for Performance - Production Cars, the BMW 130 entered by local team GWS Motorsport topped the standings and finishing a stunning 11th outright.
Drivers Bruce Thomlinson, Geoff Fontaine and Richard Gartner completed 244 laps, the most ever by a BMW 130i in the race's history.
The race was broadcast to a global audience via the internet, with more than 10,000 unique visitors watching the stream throughout the course of the race, from more than ten countries.
#8 AUDI RACE EXPERIENCE Team Joest Audi R8 LMS GT3 Darryl O'Young
"In the middle stint it was very hot, I'm just really happy we watched the tyres; towards the end of my stint the tyres were really gone on the rear which caused it to oversteer a lot - which was really difficult - but the really difficult part was the end there when Craig was pushing to catch us.
"I made a mistake coming out of the pit and it cost us a lot of time. I knew we had to push to maintain the gap because I knew we had to do a splash and dash at the end, so I really had to push to maintain the gap. The guys were telling me, 'you have got to push more'.
"We knew they had to stop again and we knew we had to stop again, we had to do a quick stop it was really an intense fight and it really went down to the wire. My teammates here did a fantastic job and the Team Audi Racing they didn't make any mistakes, it was perfect, like clockwork."
"We arrived here on Tuesday morning, we went around in some rental cars and get track knowledge, a fantastic result in qualifying and now the victory, it is just unbelievable. It is a long distance race but it really is like a sprint race, we push the car all the time."
"It means quite a lot (the race win). I did the first stint then Mark did the double stint. I set the fastest race lap before Craig did on the last lap. It is just incredible, we had no track knowledge and the other guys do have a lot. A one and two for our team is great and show the potential of our car."
#7 AUDI RACE EXPERIENCE Team Joest Audi R8 LMS GT3
"The show Audi put on, the team they brought out blew me away how professional they are. There isn't a budget, if you want something you can just go out the back and take it. I hope they come back next year. I think having Audi here has given the event, having guys like Craig and Bairdo.... (Pause) oh and Luffy!"
"It was an interesting day, we started quite early, it was the earliest start I have had for quite a while around Mount Panorama! The car was nice and easy to drive which is a nice thing for 12 hours - We had to look after the car just like we do in the 1000; the tyres, the fuel in the beginning. (And then the) Safety cars and then strategy goes out the window. As the tyres wore down the car was more comfortable, I was more comfortable. The three of us did a fantastic job, we got a puncture there in the middle which didn't help us and because the pit stop rules that they have to be 10 laps apart really hurt us. Luffy did a great job in the wet. He really kept us in the game.
To have one two in qualifying and one two in the 12 hour is wonderful."
"Craig and I were joking last night; he said as soon as I get out of the car it will rain, he wasn't too far wrong. The early conditions of the race were very trying, it started to rain but it didn't warrant going to wets. We had to keep the pace up and we were able to keep the pace up in the wet even though we were on slicks.
The car is so easy to drive. It kept getting better as the race went on."
#29 VIP PETFOODS Porsche GT3 R
"Driving for Tony is like driving for Audi, it doesn't seem like there is a budget (Laughter), If you want something you just go out the back and steal it. The car was really good; it was really good to drive. We are happy with third, third for us is like winning it for us. We are happy with that.
#14 PETER CONROY MOTORSPORT Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X
"We managed to come up to the Mountain and tick every box we wanted too. We got pole in Production Car, we won Class D and ninth outright. We are very pleased, I have got to thank the guys, they looked after the car, kept up the pace that was requested. I have got no complaints whatsoever."
-source: bathurst 12h