POLL: Did GruppeM deserve to win the Bathurst 12 Hour?

The GruppeM Racing Mercedes-AMG finished third in the Bathurst 12 Hour but very nearly won the race

The GruppeM Racing Mercedes-AMG finished third in the Bathurst 12 Hour but very nearly won the race

After a dramatic near-miss, we ask if you think GruppeM Racing deserved to win the 2023 Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, in this week’s Pirtek Poll.

The Mount Panorama GT3 enduro was whittled down to a three-way fight in the final stints between GruppeM, fellow Mercedes-AMG team SunEnergy1, and the Manthey EMA Porsche.

Those three cars were separated by less than 1.5s when the chequered flag flew at the end of Lap 323, but it was SunEnergy1 victorious and Manthey EMA the runners-up.

While the GruppeM car had to serve a late drive-through penalty after Maro Engel unloaded Jules Gounon at The Chase in a bungled attempt to pass the #75 Mercedes-AMG, its Bathurst campaign started to unravel a little earlier.

The #999 Mercedes-AMG looked to be in the box seat ahead of the final pit stop cycle, until the team was forced to replace a malfunctioning modem which was preventing data from being sent back to the pits, as required by regulations.

That work elongated its dwell time when Raffaele Marciello pitted on Lap 290 and a 30-second lead over the Porsche which followed him into the lane turned into just a six-second advantage when Engel and Matt Campbell came up to speed again.

It could have been worse for GruppeM if not for the fact that Manthey EMA saw fit to also change tyres, but then Car #999 lost the effective lead a lap later anyway when SunEnergy1 made its own gamble on a fuel-only stop.

That forced Engel into the scenario of having to hunt down Gounon, which was a relatively easy task.

Passing Car #75, on the other hand, proved too difficult when the German tagged the Frenchman on Lap 300 and sent him spinning into the weeds.

There are thus two key considerations in determining whether or not GruppeM deserved to win the race.

Firstly, it would appear that it was in the box seat until the data logger issue arose, and the modem change also effectively took away the strategic option of a fuel-only final stop.

That would perhaps have left Engel vulnerable to Campbell in the final stint but the Queenslander was unable to find a way past Gounon despite an obvious pace advantage.

Secondly, there is the question of the drive-through penalty.

To this reporter, the call seemed less than controversial, although none of GruppeM’s three drivers would likely agree with that.

Mikael Grenier claimed Gounon moved in the braking zone and Engel declined to comment when asked by Speedcafe.com if he agreed with the penalty, only saying that he respected it.

Raffaele Marciello did not wish to speak at all in the post-race press conference, but a tweet from the fiery Swiss-Italian before the race had even ended left little did as to his general opinion.

“However will go I’m disgusted after today,” he wrote.

“I hate that will take time to forget today. [sic]

“I stand with my team and my teammates.”

So, what do you think? Did GruppeM deserve to win the Bathurst 12 Hour or not?

Cast your vote in this week’s Pirtek Poll.

Pirtek Poll

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