Bathurst 12 Hour: Audis lead at halfway point
The two Jamec Pem Audis are leading the Bathurst 12 Hour at the halfway mark, with the factory Porsche and BMW crews in hot pursuit.
It was a difficult start to the second quarter of the race for the Schnitzer BMW that dominated the first three hours, with Marco Wittmann falling foul of restart regulations and copping a drive-through shortly after taking over the M6.
His mistake was creeping alongside a pair of lapped backmarkers during the sixth restart of the race, the resulting stop sending the Schnitzer car from second on the road and effectively leading the race back down to 10th.
That misfortune was quickly balanced by a stroke of good luck not long before the fourth-hour mark, with a seventh Safety Car called when the #18 Bentley blew a tyre and went off at The Chase.
As the likes of the #100 SRM BMW, the #74 and #22 Jamec Pem Audis, and the #991 Porsche took the chance to make another stop, Wittmann found himself vaulted straight back up to third behind Steven Kane (#17 Bentley) and Patrick Long (#12 Competition Porsche) for the restart a quarter of an hour later.
Kane enjoyed a stint out front following the restart, before copping his own penalty for a restart breach. He toured the lane immediately, handing the lead over to Long.
Wittmann shadowed the Pro-Am Porsche before making a regular stop just after the 4h30m mark. That elevated Jamie Whincup into second in the #75 SunEnergy1 Mercedes, the Supercars champ chasing down the leader before pitting himself near the five-hour mark.
By that stage the likes of Chris Mies, Kevin Estre, Garth Tander, and Steve Richards had filtered back to the front of the field in that order, with Robin Frijns not far behind in the WRT Audi.
When Long pitted a pair of laps after Whincup, Mies took over at the front from Estre, Tander, and Richards. Frijns' charge, however, was slowed by the third prominent restart infringement of the race, the resulting drive-through dropping him from fifth to seventh.
On 5h15m the Safety Car was called for an eighth time when the Carrera Cup Asia Porsche ended up in the wall, leading to the next round of stops at the front of the field.
Out of the leaders Tander was the only one not to pit, which put the #22 in the lead ahead of the #74 sister car, which was taken over by Haase.
The two Audis went on with a spirited battle for the lead, Tander, on older rubber, ultimately overhauled by Haase on the 5h40m mark.
Seconds later the Safety Car made its ninth appearance when a Class C BMW went into the wall, allowing Bamber, Eng, and Romain Dumas (#911 Porsche) to close close back up on the leading Audis.
The race went green again shortly before the end of the sixth hour, with the two Audis making a clear getaway to retain the lead, with Bamber, Eng, Dumas, Alex Davison, and Augusto Farfus all within 10 seconds.
With the Carrera Cup Asia entry out of the Class B race, the #85 Wall Racing entry of Charles Putman/Charles Espenlaub/Joe Foster is now the best of the Cup cars.
The Boat Works BMW M4 leads Class C, while the #91 MARC II entry continues to leads the Invitational class.
Tune in to our Bathurst 12 Hour livestream
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