EPIC Finish to the 2015 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour

2015 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour | EPIC finish to the 12 Hours of Bathurst

Article by Rhys Vandersyde and Images by – Jarrod Moore and Rhys Vandersyde

MyDrive | 2015 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour - With the international world of motorsport watching on, Bathurst residents were woken to the sound of fifty elite race cars, lights ablaze as they took to the Mt Panorama circuit in complete darkness for the 2015 edition of the Liquid-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour race.

The strong field of international competitors took to the grid, with more than half of the field comprising of international GT3 specification cars, fighting it out for outright honours.

Defending Champions Maranello Motorsport crashed heavily on Friday during practice which destroyed the Ferrari 458 GT3 and their chance to make and defend their 2014 title.

Making the most of their front row position, the No. 15 Audi R8 of Phoenix Racing took the early lead with the No. 35 Nissan GTR of NISMO giving chase. It would only take a few laps before the first of many safety cars took to the track. It was called early when the Class D BMW E46 M3 GTR of Anthony Gilbertson collided with a Kangaroo in an unfortunate incident on Conrod Straight, ending his team’s race early.

With the sun starting to appear over the mountains, the race resumed settling into a rhythm as teams completed their first round of pit stops. Only two hours into the race and several safety cars were required again, this time for the No. 14 Porsche at Hell Corner and two other Porsches, No. 51 and No. 66, crashing at Forrest Elbow which inevitably set a trend for the rest of the day.

Images by – Jarrod Moore and Rhys Vandersyde

By the half-way point of the race the leading competitors had completed 140 laps with the No. 36 Erebus Mercedes AMG SLS of Jack LeBroq leading and closely followed by the No. 35 Nissan GTR of Katsumasa Chiyo and the No. 10 M-Sport Bentley Continental of Guy Smith.

With nine hours completed in the twelve hour race, a new record was set for the number of safety car interventions with 15 in the first nine hours of the race. The No. 36 Erebus car and the No. 35 NISMO continued to lead at the front with No. 97 Craft Bambo Austin Martin Vantage, No 10. M-Sport Bentley Continental and both the No. 15 and No 16. Phoenix Racing Audi R8-LMS’s, still had a chance to win the race by staying on the lead lap.

With only an hour to the chequered flag and one final round of pit stops, the No 15 Audi of Laurens Vanthoor took the lead with the No. 97 Aston Martin of Darryl O’Young and the No. 10 Bentley of Guy Smith following closely behind.

The safety car would make two more appearances which changed the tempo of the race. The first safety car was the recover the No. 8 Bentley of David Brabham who crashed out at the Cutting with the second to recover the leader of Class B, No. 4 Porsche of Stephen Grove who spun into the gravel trap on the final corner.

With the top six cars all grouped together under the safety car with five minutes to the finish, it became a one lap dash to the chequered flag. It was hard but fair racing with competitors tripping over each other as they tried to claim the lead. In the end a sensational final lap by Katsumasa Chiyo put the No. 35 Nissan GTR of NISMO from third place into the lead to claim the win. The No. 15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 claimed second place with the No 97. Craft Bamboo Aston Martin Vantage taking out the final spot on the podium.

Sadly for Bentley Motorsport this was not to be the fairy-tale re-entry to international endurance racing they had hoped for although the lessons learnt will keep them in good shape for the rest of the year.

Nissan Motorsport proved they have what it takes to not only compete but also win major international events like the Bathurst 12 Hour with the R35 Nissan GT-R. With seven different manufactures in the top seven positions across the line, the stature of the Bathurst 12 Hour will continue to grow with even more teams looking to enter the event in 2016.

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For details on Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, click > www.bathurst12hour.com.au

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