Campbell stands by Porsche Bathurst new tyre ‘gamble’

The Manthey EMA Porsche follows the SunEnergy1 Mercedes-AMG across the finish line in the 2023 Bathurst 12 Hour

The Manthey EMA Porsche follows the SunEnergy1 Mercedes-AMG across the finish line in the 2023 Bathurst 12 Hour. Picture: Ross Gibb

Matt Campbell says new tyres in his final pit stop was the right call despite missing victory in the Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour by less than a second.

The Queenslander took the chequered flag 0.9267s behind the #75 Mercedes-AMG despite having a clear pace advantage in the final stint, thanks in no small part to enjoying fresh rubber when the SunEnergy1 entry was reusing a set.

Of the three teams which emerged as the likely winners, the other being GruppeM, it was in fact only the Akkodis ASP-run SunEnergy1 outfit which opted against changing tyres at their final pit stop.

Race regulations compel teams to do so after the fuel fill and GruppeM also had the burden of having to replace a malfunctioning data logger modem in its #999 Mercedes-AMG.

As such, it propped for new hoops and was able to cover the Manthey EMA squad which was doing likewise to its Porsche at the same time.

However, that handed an opportunity to SunEnergy1 to pinch crucial track position when Jules Gounon was called into the pits a lap later, having been third prior to the cycle in question.

According to Campbell, a fuel-only stop was hardly an option for Car #912.

“Unfortunately, for us, we would have liked to, but we just think we didn’t have performance on the second run and we just would have lost out even more,” he explained.

“So, unfortunately, we had to take that gamble; it almost paid off of, luckily, with the two friends coming together [GruppeM’s Maro Engel turning Gounon around in the battle for the lead], but nevertheless, it was a good day and we’ll have to take second.”

Manthey EMA officially led 38 laps of what turned out to be a record-breaking 323-lap encounter thanks in part to fuel-saving which enabled some shorter pit stops.

Campbell then gained around half a second a lap on Gounon from the time of the Engel clash until he caught the #75 Mercedes-AMG, after which he could not get close enough to fashion a pass.

Thomas Preining, another of the #912 pilots alongside Mathieu Jaminet, admitted they lacked ultimate pace.

“In general, we were just slightly off all day, to be honest, and this just carried on throughout the entirety of the race,” said Preining.

“We were always missing a few tenths as we were leading, which was mostly thanks to the great strategic work and the fast pit stops that our guys did.

“So, all in all, I think we’ve done a really good race – fewer mistakes, and we maximised everything – but sometimes it’s life, sometimes it’s not enough.”

The entire podium was covered by just 1.4177s, with Engel salvaging third after serving the drive-through penalty for the Gounon coming-together.

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