THE #17 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental GT3 of Steven Kane leads at the end of Hour 4 of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour after a hectic first quarter of the race.
Kane sits ahead of the #12 Competition Motorsports Porsche of Pat Long, while the #43 BMW Team Schnitzer M6 GT3 of Marco Wittmann is third despite enduring a drive through penalty for breaching the Safety Car restart procedure.
Porsche Class B is led by Andrew Fawcet aboard the #21 JFC – Carter Grange car after class rivals Grove Racing and Team Carrera Cup Asia both suffered multiple issues.
Boost Mobile Class C is under control of Tony Longhurst in the #30 Boat Works Racing BMW M4 GT4, while leading Racer Industries Class I is Will Brown aboard the #91 MARC II V8.
As it happened:
The second hour of the race kicked off with a major crash for the #48 KTM X-Bow of David Crampton. The car made heavy contact with the wall at The Bentley Elbow, before ploughing into the tyre barrier and coming to rest with the extensive damage to the front of the car.
After 15 minutes under Safety Car, the race restarted as Markus Winkelhock in the #74 Jamec Pem Audi set his sights on leader Chaz Mostert, making a brave pass down the inside of the JBS Lago Racing Lamborghini at McPhillamy Park.
A huge three-car incident on Lap 43 brought out another Safety Car intervention moments later.
The #82 International Motorsport Audi R8 LMS of Andrew Bagnall, #9 Hallmarc Audi of Marc Cini and the #67 MACR Cars Australia MARC II V8 of Morgan Haber were all involved in the crash that unfolded just before McPhillamy Park.
Under the Safety Car, a number of teams elected to make a pitstop, while Bentley Team M-Sport brought the Vincent Abril-driven #18 Bentley Continental GT3 into the garage to change the car’s gearbox.
The race went back to green on lap 51, with Mostert once again clearing off at front to the tune of 10 seconds, while further behind, a charging Laurens Vanthoor in the #991 Craft-Bamboo Porsche forced his way past Frederic Vervisch in the #22 Jamec Pem Audi to put himself up to third.
Another Safety Car was deployed on Lap 61 for the Grove Racing Porsche, which momentarily beached itself in the gravel at the final corner.
Stephen Grove, who was behind the wheel, spun while challenging for the class lead, ending up in the kitty litter, however he managed to escape the gravel, but not before the Safety Car was called, going around again moments later at Hell Corner.
At the same time, Xavier West smacked the wall at the Bentley Elbow aboard the Class C leading #44 BMW Team SRM M4 GT4, tearing the front right wheel off the car and ending the squad’s race.
The Safety Car brought a flurry of pit stops, with teams up and down the pitlane performing driver changes as a number of cars dropped off kilter with the pitstop cycle.
Tim Slade brought field back to green in the #11 Objective Racing McLaren after not stopping under the Safety Car ahead of Marco Wittmann – who had taken over the #43 BMW Team Schnitzer M6 GT3 from Mostert.
Another two Safety Cars came with in quick succession, the first for the #3 Audi of Ash Samadi, who crashed at Turn 1 and before long, the sixth intervention came after the #65 Daytona Coupe of Dylan Thomas lost a wheel on the main straight.
Drama struck the BMW Team Schnitzer bunker when Wittmann received a drive through penalty for overlapping before the control line on the sixth Safety Car restart. The infringement dropped the car from second to tenth overall and onto the back of the lead lap
Just before the fourth hour of the race ticked over, Porsche Class B leaders Team Carrera Cup Asia lost the lead of the class when Evan Chen, who was behind the wheel of the #23 backed it into the tyre barrier at the Bentley Elbow.
The hour ended under Safety Car after the recovering #18 Bentley, which lost over 20 laps while the team replaced the car’s gearbox, became beached in the gravel at The Chase after suffering a front right puncture in the braking zone.
By: Slade Perrins.