Porsche starred in the current specification 911 GT3’s send-off race as Aussie, Matt Campbell along with teammates – Dennis Olsen and Dirk Werner – win the 2019 Bathurst 12 Hour after a dramatic finish in which seven cars were on the lead lap, each representing six different manufacturers for a dash to the flag.
Driving for New Zealand was two time Le Mans winner, Earl Bamber. The winning Porsche was quicker than most manufacturers on the corners but lacked power on the straights compared to the more powerful Bentley’s, BMW’s, AMG’s and Aston Martin’s – also in their farewell races for the current specification chassis.
Brit, Jake Dennis, driving for the Switzerland based R Motorsport, led the restart until the final minutes of the race. Aston Martin were quicker on the straights but Porsche’s efficiency on the corners saw them pull off a last gasp win!
Team Schnitzer, who are still mourning the loss of ex-team boss, Charly Lamm, finished an emotional but disappointing fifth after leading six hours into the race and contending throughout. Team Schnitzer’s stunning performance and duel against Bentley was glittering, but wasn’t quite enough to give them the fairy tale ending they would have hoped for. The #42 BMW Schnitzer of Chaz Mostert, Augusto Farfus and Martin Tomzyk lost out to a hard but legal overtake by Campbell with half an hour remaining. A post-race investigation cleared the winning Porsche of any wrongdoing.
The #999 Gruppe M Mercedes finished third after starting from pole but felt robbed. Credit to the Herculean defense put by Raffaele Marciello to keep the #888 Vodafone Mercedes with Fresher tires at bay with 0.2 seconds between them. They were followed by the Schnitzer BMW and the first of the Cumbria based M-Sport Bentley’s. The KCMG Nissan GTR, driven by Oliver Jarvis from WEC fame, finished a distant seventh after unfortunate incidents crippled their run and the sister KCMG (originally sixth) took a penalty for swerving under the Safety Car- unlike Formula 1, this is prohibited in this series.
A gutted Andy Souleck looked like he was going to rejoin the field in third, when he unfortunately pressed the kill switch (a button that stops power going to the engine) and his Gen II Continental GT3 came to a complete stop for more than 40-seconds, eventually filing back into seventh.
The Class A Pro-Am division was won by the #51 Ferrari 488 GT3 of Pedro Lamy, businessman Paul Dalla Lana, and Mathias Lauda. The Grove Racing Porsche of Ben Barker and Brenton and Stephen Grove rounded out a comprehensive Class B win. Class C went to the #48 M Motorsport KTM, driven by Justin McMillan, Glen Wood and Dean Lillie, with the Invitational class conquered by Adam Hargreaves, Daniel Jilesen and Steve Owen in the #20 MARC Mustang V8.
What is The Bathurst 12 Hour?
For those not acquainted with Bathurst 12 hours, the race forms a part of the Intercontinental GT Championship. It aims to get manufacturers into racing either as a factory backed team or supplying their vehicles to customer’s eligible to race.
Bathurst 12 Hours and the Suzuka 10 hours can be individual events within the GT Championship, or can be part of events such as the 24 hours of Spa, under the World Endurance Championship. It also features other classes including the Pro-Am (a class with two professionals and one amateur as a team) and Class B with the GT3 Cup versions of the vehicles – essentially meaning the aerodynamics and power along with some driving features differ to the GT3 specs.
Class C features cars made to the GT4 specifications, the least powerful of all the GT classes. The recently concluded race featured the Austrian KTM GT4, the Yorkshire designed Ginetta G55 GT4 and a BMW M4 GT4. Culminating entries are the Invitational class entries which consist of the prototype entries (non-production vehicle entries) although Australian race team, MARC, entries were styled off the Mustang.
Each of said classes aims to design regulations to concentrate on driver skills in some way or another. Natural advantages to some vehicles in terms of power, aerodynamics and agility is restricted based on the BOP (Balance of Performance) factor that’s set by technical and sporting rules.
This means that if BOP rules favour certain manufacturers or certain specifications of the cars based on tracks, teams can go through data logged by state-of the art data loggers to appeal and close the gap by having the BOP amended in their favour. These regulations are constant in different series run all over the world, including IMSA in the USA, SRO based in London and the the Blancpain Series run in Europe.
Parity, fairness and driver skills are the emphasis of these championships, which is why they are used as stepping stones to higher series such as Le Mans and Formula 1. Or simply, they serve as a fun way for experienced drivers to go for a last few spins in their favourite cars!T