Australian Endurance Championship Bathurst 12h race

Australian Endurance Championship Bathurst 12h race

05.02.2020: Race (12 Hours) Rnd#1 2020 Australian Endurance Championship Mount Panorama Circuit 30 January-2 February, 2020 With the #29 Trofeo Motorsport Lamborghini completed just minutes ahead of the 5:45am race start, the 10-car Australian GT field were

Race (12 Hours)

Rnd#1 2020 Australian Endurance Championship
Mount Panorama Circuit
30 January-2 February, 2020

With the #29 Trofeo Motorsport Lamborghini completed just minutes ahead of the 5:45am race start, the 10-car Australian GT field were set for the opening round of the endurance season.

Despite the dark conditions and the impressive pace right through the field, the opening hour of the race ran without trouble, Australian GT race winner Fraser Ross impressing with his performance in the #59 McLaren, the Australian driver faster than the factory drivers in the sister car at the front of the field, although he was comfortably holding position in the lead of the Silver category just off the tail of the top ten.

Sadly two of the MARC Cars stars suffered trouble early - the #20 car of Daniel Jilesen making contact with the wall at the top of the mountain, forcing the team back into pit lane for repairs, whilst the #95 Geoff Taunton entry with Warren Luff at the wheel suffered an engine issue during their first pit stop, an issue which saw an engine fire and ultimately a complete engine change thereafter..

Not long after Julian Westwood in the Adrian Deitz-owned Lamborghini glanced the barriers on the run into the Dipper forcing it across into the outside wall and ultimately to a stop mid track, bringing out the Safety Car as the vehicle was recovered and ultimately retired.

By that stage the #59 McLaren held a comfortable lead in the Silver category over the Tony Bates Audi and the Trofeo Lamborghini, whilst Dean Fiore had the ‘Hallmarc’ Audi holding down the top spot in Pro-Am, the car also within striking distance of the 12 Hour class podium.

Unfortunately for Tony Bates - his high profile ‘Bostik’ entry was the next retirement, the car owner failing to turn a race lap after a technical issue sidelined team-mate Max Twigg on the run up Mountain Straight in the closing stages of his opening leg, the team forced to watch the field circulate before recovering the car during a safety car period some hours later.

Despite threatening weather and a growing list of retirements, the Fraser Ross/Dominic Storey/Martin Kodric McLaren 720S GT3 continued to punch out impressive lap times to stay on the lead lap until the final hour, Kodric the fastest driver on the circuit for much of the second half of the race on their way to an eighth placed finish and victory in the Silver class for both the Bathurst 12 Hour, and Australian GT.

Supercars star Nick Percat teamed with rising stars Aaron Cameron and Broc Feeney took an impressive 15th outright with top honours in the ‘Invitational’ category for MARC Cars Australia, with the ‘Hallmarc’ Audi claiming top honours for Pro-Am in Australian GT and third overall, their result may perhaps have been better if not for contact early in the race for Cini after a touch from Jamie Whincup on top of the mountain.

The impressive Trofeo Motorsport team - who had endured a marathon effort to repair the car after Canto’s qualifying drama - crossed the line fourth in Silver class, in the process claiming second in the category for Australian GT, with the Brett Hobson Nissan GT-R - which had suffered from brake issues over much of the closing stages of the race - third in class.

Unfortunately - despite a marathon effort from the MARC Cars Australia team - only the #91 Skandia entry was classified, despite the #20 Hargraves and #95 Taunton cars greeting the chequered flag, they both fell short of the minimum laps for the category, although they arguably deserved to be one of the teams of the event after and incredible effort to repair and return the cars to the race when many others would have opted for retirement.

For Mark Griffith his maiden event in the new Mercedes-AMG GT4 saw a great run through to a second-placed finish - joined by international stars Dirk Muller and Harrison Newey, the laconic Queenslander was all smiles after the race having put a strong haul of championship points on the board, he will now turn his focus to the Australian GT ‘Sprint’ Championships which begins at Phillip Island on March 21.

For the Australian GT teams, focus now turns to round two of the Australian Endurance Championship at Phillip Island on 20-22 March with the inaugural ‘GT Sportcar Festival’ a 4-Hour journey around one of the most popular circuits on the annual calendar.

- motorsport media also photo


05.02.2020 / MaP

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