Bentley Team M-Sport beat McLaren and Mercedes-AMG at Australia’s International Enduro
$25,200 AUD raised for local bushfire appeal
World-class field attracts record three-day attendance
Bentley finally broke its Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli duck today at Mount Panorama where M-Sport trio Jules Gounon, Maxime Soulet and Jordan Pepper claimed a long-awaited Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour victory.
The #7 Continental GT3 enjoyed a largely trouble-free run from 11th on the grid, the lowest starting position for any winner since the event’s first edition in 1991. Even a high-speed tyre blowout along Conrod Straight within sight of the final hour couldn’t derail the crew, who also set a new distance record of 314 laps (1950.8km).
McLaren finished second overall - some 41s behind the Bentley - while Mercedes-AMG and Porsche completed Intercontinental’s podium after Triple Eight’s Shane van Gisbergen, Jamie Whincup and Maxi Goetz beat Absolute’s Matt Campbell, Mathieu Jamient and Patrick Pilet.
Their positions were only confirmed post-race when GruppeM Racing’s Mercedes-AMG was penalised for a late pitstop infringement. Raffaele Marciello, Maxi Buhk and Felipe Fraga had been nip and tuck with the Bentley for much of the race and might have even challenged the Continental GT3 for victory over the closing 30 minutes were it not for a late puncture.
Indeed, GruppeM signalled its intent at the start when Buhk jumped from third to first at Turn 1. He remained out front for much of the opening stint until Ben Barnicoat prised open a gap at The Chase.
Several more cars took turns at the front during a Safety Car-interrupted first quarter. But while others grabbed the headlines, Bentley began edging into contention through a combination of sheer pace and short-fuelling their lead entry. Soulet had climbed to third by the end of the second hour before Pepper took the lead for the first time during the fifth.
Differing strategies then saw the Bentley consistently swap places with GruppeM’s Mercedes-AMG during their respective pit cycles. Only occasionally together on track, the battle was a predominantly proxy-war fought out until the penultimate round of stops when Marciello jumped ahead by dint of not changing tyres.
By contrast, Gounon’s fresh rubber helped the Frenchman reel in his Italian rival. Little separated them when Marciello took new tyres during his final scheduled stop with just over an hour to go. Gounon continued but was forced in soon after when his right-rear tyre blew heading down Conrod Straight. Somehow the time lost wasn’t enough for Marciello to take advantage, and it was the Bentley that headed into the last hour out front.
Gounon’s six-second lead then grew significantly when a puncture forced Marciello in with 15 minutes remaining. He recovered to re-take second from the McLaren but was relegated to sixth post-race as the result of a pit infringement.
That left Triple Eight and Craft-Bamboo/Black Falcon as Mercedes-AMG’s top-two entries in third and fifth overall, as well as second and fourth in the Intercontinental classification. However, just like GruppeM, the car shared by Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Yelmer Buurman was denied a podium when it picked up a puncture.
A late splash and dash for fuel dropped Absolute Racing’s #912 Porsche out of podium contention, but its second entry was on hand to claim an #IntGTC rostrum in fourth overall. Those points combined with #912’s leave Porsche joint-second in the early Manufacturers’ Championship with Bentley, who trail Mercedes-AMG by five points.
Aston Martin occupy fourth in the standings after its two surviving Vantages scored points. Garage 59 and R-Motorsport both suffered heavy accidents across the weekend but their second cars came through to finish 14th and 16th overall, and seventh and eighth of the #IntGTC contingent.
Audi’s promising weekend ultimately resulted in just six points after all three of its Team Valvoline Pro entries suffered separate issues and accidents. However, Kelvin van der Linde hinted at what might have been by setting fastest lap in the closing stages.
The single-car entries fielded by Lamborghini, BMW and Honda all failed to finish, while HubAuto Corsa’s Ferrari was withdrawn following an accident on Saturday.
Elsewhere, SRO Motorsports Group’s pledge to donate $5 AUD for every lap completed by Intercontinental GT Challenge entries raised $25,200 AUD for the Australian Lions Club Foundation National Bushfire Appeal. The event also attracted a record three-day attendance of 43,111.
Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli continues at the Total 24 Hours of Spa on July 23-26.
Jules Gounon, #7 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental GT3: “It was an amazing race. “It was really, really tense at the end because I had a puncture before the last stint so the team was really scared after the puncture of (Raffaele) Marciello. It was a matter of trying to keep the car away from the kerbs, the debris, so it was tense still; not flat out but trying to manage the problem. It’s amazing for us, amazing for M-Sport, I think the new car showed potential last year and we’ve never had a big win except Paul Ricard, so it’s a big one for us.
“You have those days where everything comes together for you; you see the rain dropping after I passed the line. Thanks to the racing gods I can say it was a good one
2020 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour Result
Pos Car Competitor/Team Driver Vehicle Cap CL Laps Race.Time Fastest...Lap
1 7 Bentley Team M-Sport J.Gounon/M.Soulet/
J.Pepper Bentley Continental 4000 PRO 314 12:00:33.8710 287 2:04.0509
2 60 59Racing/ EMA Racing A.Parente/B.Barnicoat/
T.Blomqvist McLaren 720S GT3 6786 PRO 314 12:01:15.3949 283 2:03.7177
3 888 Mercedes-AMG Team Triple Eight S.van Gisbergen/
J.Whincup/M.Goetz Mercedes AMG GT3 6208 PRO 314 12:01:18.3310 313 2:04.3482
4 911 Absolute Racing M.Jaminet/P.Pilet/
M.Campbell Porsche GT3 R 4000 PRO 314 12:01:19.8609 304 2:04.0037
5 77 Mercedes-AMG Craft-Bamboo M.Engel/L.Stolz/
Y.Buurman Mercedes AMG GT3 6208 PRO 314 12:01:36.9099 281 2:03.9397
6 999 Mercedes-AMG GruppeM Racing F.Fraga/M.Buhk/
R.Marciello Mercedes AMG GT3 6208 PRO 314 12:01:41.6655 312 2:04.0278
7 912 Absolute Racing D.Werner/M.Cairoli/
T.Preining Porsche GT3 R 4000 PRO 314 12:02:09.9684 31 2:04.3981
8 59 59Racing D.Storey/F.Ross/
M.Kodric McLaren 720S GT3 6786 SIL 313 12:01:45.9776 303 2:03.3958
9 1 Earl Bamber Motorsport E.Bamber/L.Vanthoor/
C.Lowndes Porsche GT3 R 4000 PRO 312 12:01:09.7165 293 2:04.0143
10 4 Team Australia Grove Racing S.Grove/B.Grove/
B.Barker Porsche GT3 R 4000 PAM 312 12:01:28.0890 302 2:04.5914
11 12 NED Racing Team D.Calvert-Jones/R.Dumas/
J.Evans Porsche GT3 R 4000 PAM 311 12:01:47.5728 34 2:05.1366
12 18 KCMG J.De Oliveira/
E.Liberati/A.Imperatori Nissan GTR Nismo GT 3799 PRO 311 12:02:28.6687 91 2:04.4237
13 159 Garage 59 A.Watson/O.Hart/
R.De Angelis Aston Martin Vantage 3800 SIL 311 12:02:37.8629 280 2:05.6177
14 46 Black Falcon P.Assenheimer/
S.Afanasiev/M.Beretta Mercedes AMG GT3 6208 SIL 311 12:06:26.3943 304 2:05.1342
15 91 Scandia Racer Industries A.Cameron/B.Feeney/
N.Percat MARC II 5104 INV 310 12:02:35.0635 23 2:05.5461
16 76 R - Motorsport J.Dennis/R.Kelly/
S.Dixon Aston Martin Vantage 3989 PRO 308 12:01:05.4104 277 2:05.1072
17 9 Hallmarc M.Cini/D.Fiore/
L.Holdsworth Audi R8 - LMS GT3 5200 PAM 308 12:01:22.2997 307 2:05.0992
18 222 Audi Sport Team Valvoline K.van der Linde/M.Drudi/
M.Winkelhock Audi R8 - LMS GT3 5200 PRO 308 12:01:26.4828 305 2:03.2789*
19 29 Trofeo Motorsport L.Talbot/D.Canto/
M.Zalloua/G.Denyer Lamborghini Huracan 5200 SIL 300 12:01:00.4643 278 2:06.3053
20 75 SunEnergy1 Racing K.Habul/D.Baumann/
M.Konrad/D.Reynolds Mercedes AMG GT3 6208 PAM 290 12:01:07.3272 266 2:04.4560
21 96 Hobson Motorsport B.Hobson/K.Kostecki/
G.Walden Nissan GT-R NISMO GT 3799 SIL 288 12:00:54.2900 25 2:06.8898
22 13 JET Battery Services D.Jorgensen/B.Strom/
D.van Dongen BMW M4 GT4 3000 GT4 277 12:01:07.6743 9 2:15.9620
23 19 usedtrucks.com.au M.Griffith/D.Muller/
H.Newey Mercedes AMG GT4 4000 GT4 270 12:02:31.1146 269 2:16.2441
NC 8 Bentley Team M-Sport A.Buncombe/O.Jarvis/
S.Morris Bentley Continental 4000 PRO 225 08:43:50.6993 163 2:04.5566
NC 20 Local Search A.Hargraves/
D.Jilesen/S.Owen MARC II 5104 INV 203 12:01:03.0025 24 2:07.8535
NC 63 Orange 1 FFF Racing Team A.Caldarelli/M.Mapelli/
D.Lind Lamborghini Hurracan 5200 PRO 187 07:27:10.7671 31 2:04.7221
NC 30 Honda Racing D.Cameron/
R.van der Zande/
M.Farnbacher Acura/ Honda NSX GT3 3490 PRO 184 07:20:09.0401 32 2:04.0269
NC 95 MARC Cars Australia G.Taunton/B.Hall/W.Luff/
B.Schumacher MARC II 5104 INV 167 12:01:53.7515 7 2:09.4109
NC 34 Walkenhorst Motorsport A.Farfus/N.Catsburg/
C.Mostert BMW M6 GT3 4395 PRO 166 06:32:53.0209 23 2:05.1554
NC 2 Audi Sport Team Valvoline D.Vanthoor/C.Haase/
F.Vervisch Audi R8 - LMS GT3 5200 PRO 148 05:50:39.1816 98 2:04.9176
NC 24 Bostik Australia T.Bates/G.Emery/M.Twigg/
D.O'Keeffe Audi R8 - LMS GT3 5200 SIL 84 03:34:47.5172 33 2:07.2759
NC 22 Audi Sport Team Valvoline G.Tander/C.Mies/
M.Bortolotti Audi R8 - LMS GT3 5200 PRO 61 02:25:37.6509 23 2:04.5975
NC 6 Wall Racing A.Deitz/A.D'Alberto/
J.Westwood/C.McConville Lamborghini Hurracan 5270 SIL 43 01:45:26.7702 24 2:05.8738
NC 188 Garage 59 A.West/C.Goodwin/
C.Ledogar/M.Martin Aston Martin Vantage 3800 PAM 37 01:24:31.3069 30 2:05.7150
Competitor# 46 270 Seconds Penalty
Competitor# 75 15 Seconds Penalty
Competitor#999 30 Seconds Penalty
5 Safety Car Periods With A Total Of 20 Laps
Fastest Lap Av.Speed Is 181kph
Current Race Lap Record Is 2:01.5670 Set On 07/02/2016 By Shane van_Gisbergen In A McLaren 650S
R=under lap record by greatest margin, r=under lap record, *=fastest lap time