Triple Eight Race Engineering’s podium in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour is an “extremely satisfying” achievement according to team principal Roland Dane.
Shane van Gisbergen, Jamie Whincup, and Mercedes-AMG works driver Maximilian Gotz combined to claim third position in the factory-supported #888 entry.
While Triple Eight combined with Maranello Motorsport to win the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2017, this year’s event represented the first Mount Panorama GT enduro which the Banyo team had contested as a standalone operation.
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“We worked very hard last week and to do this – come here, run totally different sort of racing, no mistakes whatsoever in the pit stops all day, with our regular crew – is something that was extremely satisfying,” Dane told Speedcafe.com.
“The Bentley was too good for everyone today but we could have done some things better, car-wise, but at the end of the day you’ve got to be in it to win it, so what we ended up with, we felt we’ll take something away from it.”
From eighth on the starting grid after rescuing a Top 10 Shootout berth, Triple Eight effectively ran around fourth to seventh position for most of the 314-lap race.
Van Gisbergen even took the chequered flag in fourth position with the provisionally second placed GruppeM Mercedes-AMG already under investigation for a pit stop breach which was established and saw Car #999 issued a 30-second penalty post-race.
“I mean, we had to grind it out, if you like,” said Dane.
“There were times when we were very quick and there were times when we weren’t anywhere near quick enough, and we needed to be more consistent during the day.
“But to be fighting hard … we weren’t fighting for (the win) really, but at the end of the day, in these races, like the Bathurst 1000 or any endurance race, you’ve got to hang in it and not make mistakes and see where you end up.”
Van Gisbergen started his final, double stint in seventh position after Gotz lost ground during the preceding stint.
The German had hopped in the #888 Mercedes-AMG during a fuel-only pit stop, which played against Triple Eight when a Safety Car was called two laps later and allowed those who spent the time changing to fresh tyres to close up.
Gotz battled with the worn rubber, coming under attack from Maximilian Buhk and Yelmer Buurman in what he described shortly after stepping out of the car as “one of my hardest stints in my whole entire life”.
He added post-race, “I was fighting with an unloaded weapon, I would say, with used tyres in my last stint.”
Dane thought that the luck cancelled itself out somewhat given that a self-inflicted error from GruppeM, which it had to make the fateful pit stop due to a tyre failure, handed the final step of the podium to Triple Eight.
“It definitely didn’t help,” said Dane of the fifth and final Safety Car period.
“I mean, we were a bit unlucky with two Safety Cars today.
“Over the course of the 12 Hour race, your luck goes both ways, so we were lucky at the end that one of the competition screwed up, but it was on their car set-up and their pit stop, so we benefited from that.
“On the other hand, the timing of two Safety Cars really didn’t help us, and there was one just after Maxi (Gotz) had stopped and we’d not put tyres on, and we would have had a big enough gap against the competition to have managed that through the stint, but when you’re under Safety Car, you’re under the pressure of people who have got new tyres versus a stint old.”