Matt Campbell has helped Porsche provisionally win the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour but has a post-race investigation for contact with Chaz Mostert hanging over his head.
Campbell squeezed into the smallest of gaps at Forrest’s Elbow to seize the lead from Jake Dennis in the #62 Aston Martin with eight laps remaining after the #912 Porsche had dropped from first to fourth when the other six contenders went for fuel only in the final cycle of pit stops.
The Australian went on to win by 3.4413s in the sole surviving factory EBM (Earl Bamber Motorsport) 911 GT3 R, but he, Dirk Werner, and Dennis Olsen now face a nervous wait after Campbell got into the door of the Schnitzer BMW when he passed Chaz Mostert for third, moments before a late Safety Car was called.
Dennis and the #62 R-Motorsport Vantage crew looked like they might even be a danger of missing the podium with Raffaele Marciello in the #999 GruppeM Mercedes-AMG also catching him.
However, Marciello soon had his mirrors full of the #888 Team Vodafone Mercedes-AMG with Shane van Gisbergen behind the wheel, who climbed all over the Italian for the last four laps of the record 312 completed by those on the lead lap.
In the end, it was Marciello who hung on by just over two tenths of a second to deliver a podium for himself, Maximillian Buhk, and Maximillian Goetz.
Four seconds up the road and currently classified as runners-up were Dennis, Matthieu Vaxiviere, and Marvin Kirchhoefer.
Fourth was therefore taken by an exhausted van Gisbergen after he, Craig Lowndes, and Jamie Whincup grafted their way through the day with brake concerns and, for Lowndes, major fatigue after driving his initial double stint without a coolsuit.
Mostert, Martin Tomczyk, and Augusto Farfus finished fifth in the #42 BMW M6, ahead of the last car on the lead lap in the #108 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental of Andy Soucek, Maxime Soulet, and Vincent Abril.
The win is Porsche’s first outright triumph in the Bathurst 12 Hour, and likewise for Campbell.
“We went for a different strategy to the other guys and fortunately it paid off,” said the boy from Warwick in rural Queensland.
“When the guys were saying I was in fifth position after the pit stop (and) I knew I had to push, then the pressure really started to build.
“As we got a few more laps under our belts we knew the car was fast and we took off.”
Regarding his battle with Dennis, he continued, “Obviously we were catching it so quick.
“It’s quick on the straights; I just had to do something different and make a move. Fortunately, I did that and got the win.
“It’s absolutely phenomenal. It’s the last race with this car before we get the new generation. To send it off like this is phenomenal.
“To win at my home race, I can’t thank the guys enough. Earl Bamber Motorsport, it’s their first race in GT, they’ve done it.”
Team owner Earl Bamber, off driving duties for the weekend, said, “We wanted it badly. You see the guys celebrating here.
“It was a crazy one month to be able to try and pull this off. I have to thank everyone in the team.
“I mean, Greg, my right hand man, my brother, we worked flat out days and nights; I think I slept three hours every night this week prepping everything and these guys.
“This team is just a monster. This is just the first one for us.
“Of course, Matty Campbell, incredible drive. Amazing. Didn’t put a foot wrong. It was absolutely perfect and that was a proper motor race.
“That was absolutely incredible, nail biting. We’re going to celebrate a lot tonight.”
Porsche had already been looking strong when the race moved into its final three hours with Car #911 leading in a one-two at the time for the German marque.
Mathieu Jaminet, however, had to put Car #911 in the garage just 10 minutes later with a power steering problem and that was the end of the day for himself, Romain Dumas, and Sven Muller.
The consolation for Porsche was that it handed the lead to the sister #912 911 with Campbell behind the wheel, who was already over 10 seconds ahead of Kirchhoefer in the #62 Aston Martin, which became a 20-second advantage another 10 minutes later, when 239 laps were in the books.
Edoardo Liberati sat third in the #18 KCMG Nissan GT-R, Vincent Abril a couple of seconds further back in the #108 Bentley, Martin fifth in the #42 BMW, then Buhk in the #999 Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Whincup last on the lead lap in the #888 Mercedes-AMG.
Campbell pitted at the end of Lap 242 and Olsen took over the wheel of Car #912 in seventh position with brand new tyres on the right-hand-side.
Abril made the pass of then second-placed Liberati on-track on Lap 247, and a battle for what had become fourth between Tomczyk and Buhk saw Whincup close in.
Liberati and Tomczyk pitted together at the end of Lap 250, with around 2 hours and 15 minutes to go, before Kirchhoefer and then Abril peeled off from the lead in the next 15 minutes.
That cleansed the order with just over two hours remaining and it was expected that those seven cars would each have to make one more pit stop, with the #912 Porsche not only leading, but with fuel in hand and a longer tank.
Olsen was around 15 seconds up on Jake Dennis in the #62 Aston Martin at the time, followed six seconds further back by the #999 Mercedes-AMG with Marciello back behind the wheel.
Fourth was Maxime Soulet in the #108 Bentley, then Oliver Jarvis in the #18 Nissan, Mostert in the #42 BMW, and van Gisbergen in the #888 Mercedes-AMG getting towards a minute off the lead.
Mostert passed Jarvis at Griffins Bend on Lap 257, right at the end of the 10th hour, but they remained locked in combat for several laps thereafter and Jarvis regained the spot, perhaps with some nose-to-tail contact, at Murray’s on Lap 264.
With Olsen fuel saving, Dennis approximately halved the margin by the time the #912 Porsche made its final pit stop, with four brand new tyres and Campbell back in the car, at the end of Lap 278 with 75 minutes to go.
Dennis took over the lead, but he too had been losing some of his buffer to the trailing car and Marciello was only around two seconds behind.
EBM’s move appeared costly when the other six crews each opted for tyres only.
The first of those to jump #912 in the order was GruppeM, at the end of Lap 282, with Marciello back on-track more than 20 seconds ahead of Campbell despite stalling as he tried to leave his pit box.
Dennis and van Gisbergen pitted on Lap 284 and the former got out another nine seconds ahead of Marciello.
Soulet had inherited the lead by the time he was the last of the seven into the lane during the cycle and Soucek should have probably popped out in third position.
However, the #108 Bentley stopped at pit exit just as it had done earlier in the day when the Spaniard allegedly went for the wrong button when he tried to switch off the pit lane speed limiter, and he plummeted to seventh.
All told, after those stops, it was Dennis by 10 seconds from Marciello, 12 more seconds to Mostert, two more seconds to Campbell, seven more seconds to van Gisbergen, nine more seconds to the #18 Nissan with Alexandre Imperatori in the driver’s seat, and another 20 seconds back to Soucek, with 50 minutes to go.
The top six compressed as the field ticked off a new race record when they surpassed 297 laps, just as a smoking #50 KTM X-Bow pulled off the side of Conrod Straight and parked on the grass on the inside of the circuit.
While race control waited on calling the Safety Car, Campbell, who had been harassing Mostert, showed the nose at The Chase and made contact, which pushed the BMW wide and saw the Porsche go past into third.
The Safety Car did come, at which time Triple Eight sacrificed track position for another set of tyres as van Gisbergen pitted and dropped to seventh.
Under Safety Car, the order was the #62 Aston Martin, the #999 Mercedes-AMG, the #912 Porsche, the #42 BMW, the #18 Nissan, the #108 Bentley, and the #888 Mercedes-AMG.
Imperatori kicked a major own goal when he weaved with the Safety Car lights out for that final restart, which took place on Lap 301 with a touch over 20 minutes remaining.
Between him nearly walling the Nissan at Griffins as he tried to pass Mostert, Soucek similarly going perilously close to the tyres as he tried to pass Imperatori, and Imperatori then taking his drive-through – too late to avoid disqualification – van Gisbergen, who had been stuck in traffic at the restart, was back in fifth.
Campbell, meanwhile, had thrown the #912 Porsche down the inside of Marciello at Hell Corner on Lap 304, and caught Dennis two laps later before his brave lunge at Forrest’s Elbow on Lap 307.
Van Gisbergen took fourth from Mostert at Hell Corner on Lap 309 but nearly put #888 into the wall next time he descended through The Dipper, with an eye on Marciello just in front and lapped traffic around.
He survived, and exited his car to lie on the ground with nothing left to give when he eventually got back to the paddock after the finish.
Further back in the order, the #107 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental will inherit seventh position with the disqualification of Car #18, while the #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 was first Pro-Am car home at one position and a lap further back.
Ninth will go to the #98 Matt Stone Racing entry, the first of the Audi R8s after a tough day for the Four Rings’ Pro entries, and 10th to another Pro-Am Audi in Melbourne Performance Centre’s #9 Hallmarc car.
Grove Racing again won Class B for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars in 15th outright, a position ahead of the Invitational class-winning #20 MARC Car, and the #48 M Motorsport KTM X-Bow took out Class C in 19th outright, a lap ahead of the sole BMW M4 entered by RHC-Jorgensen/Strom by MarcGT.
Results: Race: 2019 Bathurst 12 Hour
|1||912||EBM||D.Werner/D.Olsen/M.Campbell||Porsche 911 GT3-R||PP||312||12:02:08.4067|
|2||62||R-Motorsport||J.Dennis/M.Vaxiviere/M.Kirchhoefer||Aston Martin Vantage||PP||312||12:02:11.8480|
|3||999||Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Raci||M.Buhk/R.Marciello/M.Goetz||Mercedes AMG GT3||PP||312||12:02:16.0009|
|4||888||Mercedes-AMG Team Vodafone||C.Lowndes/J.Whincup/S.van Gisbergen||Mercedes AMG GT GT3||PP||312||12:02:16.2051|
|5||42||BMW Team Schnitzer||A.Farfus/C.Mostert/M.Tomczyk||BMW M6 GT3||PP||312||12:02:17.3228|
|6||108||Bentley Team M-Sport||A.Soucek/M.Soulet/V.Abril||Bentley Continental||PP||312||12:02:20.9086|
|7||18||KC Motorgroup LTD||A.Imperatori/O.Jarvis/E.Liberati||Nissan GTR Nismo GT3||PP||312||12:02:59.4976|
|8||107||Bentley Team M-Sport||S.Kane/J.Gounon/J.Pepper||Bentley Continental||PP||311||12:02:30.9138|
|9||51||Spirit of Race||P.Dalla Lana/P.Lamy/M.Lauda||Ferrari 488 GT3||AP||310||12:02:56.5010|
|10||98||Aussie Driver Search||T.Hazelwood/R.Lago/D.Russell||Audi R8 LMS||AP||308||12:02:31.4218|
|11||9||Melbourne Performance Centre||M.Cini/L.Holdsworth/D.Fiore||Audi R8 LMS||AP||307||12:02:28.4663|
|12||6||Wall Racing||A.Deitz/J.Westwood/C.McConville/T.D’Alberto||Lamborghini Huracan||AP||307||12:02:32.6358|
|13||19||Team Nineteen, Black Falcon||M.Griffith/Y.Buurman/C.Nielsen||Mercedes AMG GT GT3||AP||306||12:02:31.5848|
|14||2||Audi Sport Team Valvoline||C.Mies/C.Haase/M.Winkelhock||Audi R8 LMS||PP||304||12:02:31.2534|
|15||35||KC Motorgroup LTD||K.Chiyo/T.Matsuda/J.Burdon||Nissan GTR Nismo GT3||PP||301||12:03:03.2655|
|16||4||Grove Group||S.Grove/B.Grove/B.Barker||Porsche 911 GT3 Cup||B||299||12:02:09.0237|
|17||20||Localsearch||A.Hargraves/D.Jilesen/S.Owen||MARC Car Marc II V8||I||282||12:02:29.5047|
|18||27||HubAuto Corsa||N.Foster/T.Slade/N.Percat||Ferrari 488 GT3||PP||279||12:02:28.1428|
|19||23||Team Carrera Cup Asia||C.van der Drift/P.Tresidder/J.Bao/P.Hamprecht||Porsche 911 GT3 Cup||B||279||12:03:24.6976|
|20||48||M Motorsport||J.McMillan/G.Wood/D.Lillie/E.Barbour||KTM X-Bow GT4||C||278||12:03:29.6864|
|21||13||JET Environmental||D.Jorgensen/B.Strom/G.McLeod||BMW M4 GT4||C||277||12:02:29.5097|
|22||55||Ginetta Australia||B.Schumacher/J.Vernon/A.Love||Ginetta G55 GT4||C||266||12:03:28.2390|
|23||11||Objective Racing||T.Walls/W.Luff/A.Watson||McLaren 650S||AP||260||12:04:18.2646|
|DNF||50||Vantage Freight||D.Crampton/T.Harrison/T.Macrow/C.Wood||KTM X-Bow GT4||C||262||11:23:02.8472|
|DNF||911||EBM||R.Dumas/S.Muller/M.Jaminet||Porsche 911 GT3-R||PP||234||09:10:17.0528|
|DNF||75||Sunenergy1 Racing||K.Habul/D.Baumann/T.Jaeger||Mercedes AMG GT GT3||AP||204||08:09:05.0431|
|DNF||71||Exedra Motorsport||D.Koutsoumidis/J.Parsons/J.Winslow/M.Beche||KTM X-Bow GT4||C||196||12:02:22.1543|
|DNF||91||MARC Cars Australia||K.Kassulke/P.Morris/P.Tracy/A.De Pasquale||MARC Car Marc II V8||I||189||09:49:45.0213|
|DNF||77||Team Craft Bamboo Black Falcon||M.Engel/L.Stolz/G.Paffett||Mercedes AMG GT3||PP||185||07:19:07.6530|
|DNF||22||Audi Sport Team Valvoline||K.van der Linde/G.Tander/F.Vervisch||Audi R8 LMS||PP||181||07:21:23.9636|
|DNF||29||Haemokinisis/ Trofeo Estate/ P||J.Manolios/B.Porter/I.Capelli/D.Canto||Lamborghini Huracan||AP||178||07:42:57.5736|
|DNF||760||R-Motorsport||F.Kamelger/A.Baenziger/P.Leemhuis/M.Parry||Aston Martin Vantage||AP||168||12:02:54.7564|
|DNF||777||The Bend Motorsport Park||Y.Shahin/D.Reynolds/L.Youlden||Mercedes AMG GT GT3||AP||156||06:15:49.1310|
|DNF||92||AJC Portables/ Nana’s Naturals||J.Busk/G.Taunton/D.O’Keeffe||MARC Car Marc I||I||136||07:52:29.2457|
|DNF||43||The Furniture Broker||D.Stutterd/S.Fillmore/R.Muscat||Porsche 911 GT3 Cup||B||134||05:27:00.2118|
|DNF||96||GAP Solutions / SEKTOR||H.Morral/M.Bakker||MARC Car Marc I||I||44||01:52:51.5379|
|DNF||12||Ice Break – Virgin Australia||D.Calvert-Jones/J.Evans||Porsche GT3-R||AP||37||01:24:19.7399|
|DNF||34||Walkenhorst Motorsport||C.Krognes/N.Catsburg||BMW M6 GT3||PP||28||08:00:30.1124|
Note: #18 to be excluded; results provisional, pending post-race investigation into incident between Cars #42 and #912 at Turn 22