After 12 hours of racing this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour has been decided by one of the closest margins of all time, just 1.4 seconds separating the top three cars with the SunEnergy1 Mercedes taking overall honours for the second year running.
The close margin reflects how the race unfolded with the last hour full of drama, Jules Gounon bringing the race home for himself, Kenny Habul and Luca Stolz after their closest rivals were issued with a penalty in the dying stages.
As the final pit window approached it appeared the #999 GruppeM Mercedes team of Maro Engel, Mikael Grenier and Raffaele Marciello were cruising, a 30 second lead to their buffer before they were forced to change a faulty modem which was creating data logging issues.
SunEnergy1 responded the very next lap with a stop of their own, ultimately with Gounon emerging with the race lead with Engel hot on his tail.
With 47 minutes remaining the two made contact at The Chase, the leaders spinning and GruppeM briefly retaking the lead until a drive-through penalty was given.
This gave SunEnergy1 the lead back, closely pursued by Australian Matt Campbell who was on a charge in the Manthey EMA Porsche.
Gounon did enough to hold on for the win by just .9 of a second with Campbell also keeping his nerve to keep Engel at bay, the German having made up the ten seconds lost to their rivals after serving their penalty.
There was mixed fortunes for the Kiwis in the field, beginning with Shane van Gisbergen partnering Broc Feeney and Maximilian Gotz in the Triple Eight Engineering Mercedes. Feeney and Gotz looked racey all weekend, however van Gisbergen uncharacteristically struggled, consistently lapping slower than his two co-drivers.
The team were also let down by a penalty in the ninth hour after a crew member adjusted the rear wing in an illegal manner on a pit stop. They still recovered to finish in fifth overall, just over one lap off the pace.
Richie Stanaway was another New Zealander in action, joining the Pro-Am class with Jamie Whincup and Prince Jefri Ibrahim and running a clean race to finish 10th overall and third in class.
The Kiwi winners on the day were Daniel Gaunt and Andrew Fawcett, the two partnering Dylan O’Keeffe in the MYLAND Team IMS Audi R8. They topped their Class A Silver group to come home 12th overall.
Class honours for the duo ensured some Kiwi success was had on the day, a result which fairly represents the abilities of both.
The winners of this year’s event covered a record breaking 323 laps for a total of 2006kms.
Header Image: Dylan O’Keeffe