HOUR 8: Audi leads as top cars drop out

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WITH eight hours complete in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, Jamec Pem Racing leads with its #74 Audi driven by Markus Winkelhock.

Jamec Pem was running one-two towards the end of the eighth hour, until its two-bullet gun became one when the second-placed, Kelvin van der Linde driven #22 Audi suffered left-rear damage after making contact with the wall at the Shannons Dipper on lap 174.

“We were looking really strong,” said van der Linde.

“Going through Skyline there was some traffic ahead and I went off line to try and overtake him and there was no grip. Bathurst inexperience, sorry to all our fans and supporters that were rooting for us, hopefully we can come back next year.”

The South African Audi gun returned the car to pitlane, with the team working frantically to get the Audi repaired, as Matt Campbell inherited second in the #12 Competition Motorsports Porsche while Guy Smith sits third aboard the #17 Bentley.

Porsche Class B is led by Charles Putman in the #85 Wall Racing car, while Boost Mobile Class C has Matt Brabham in the Boat Works Racing #30 BMW M4 GT4 on top.

Bryce Fullwood is leading Racer Industries Class I aboard the #95 Eastgate Engineering MARC Focus V8.

As it happened:

The fifth hour began with a change of lead, when the #17 Bentley had to serve a drive-through penalty for a breach of Safety Car restart procedure, dropping the car to 12th and handing the top spot to the #12 Competition Motorsports Porsche of Pat Long.

Craig Lowndes brought the #58 YNA Autosport McLaren into the garage on lap 101 with overheating issues, demoting it to 28th overall and five laps down as the crew worked frantically on the car.

Lowndes’ Supercars Championship stable-mate Jamie Whincup was on a charge aboard the #75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, rapidly closing in on the leading Porsche of Long.

Whincup decreased the gap down to 0.2 seconds before pitting on lap 107 to hand over to co-driver Raffaele Marciello, as Long pitted the Competition Motorsports Porsche a lap later to swap driving duties to Alex Davison.

This left Christopher Mies to take the lead in the #74 Jamec Pem Audi, while Kevin Estre settled into second place aboard the #991 Craft-Bamboo Racing Porsche.

At the Bentley Elbow, the #54 MARC car was turned around by Maximilian Götz in #56 Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing car, though both cars managed to escape the incident relatively unscathed.

The fifth-placed #37 Audi Sport Team WRT car of Robin Frijns also received a drive-through for a restart indiscretion, dropping the Dutch driver to seventh.

Meanwhile, the battle at the front of the field began to close up between the leading #100 BMW of Steven Richards, #22 Audi of Garth Tander, #911 Porsche of Kevin Estre and the leading #74 Audi of Christoper Mies.

Another two Safety Cars came for the demise of the #23 Team Carrera Cup Asia and only five laps later, the #13 MARC BMW M4 GT4.

The result triggered a flurry of pitstops, with driver changes taking place up and down the pitlane, before Philipp Eng, who took over from Richards in the #100 BMW, passed Earl Bamber for third, Bamber having been handed the reigns of the #991 Porsche by Estre.

Safety Car intervention number 10 came on lap 141 when two cars struck issues – the Class I #66 Viper stopped at Reid Park, and the #54 MARC Car of Paul Morris caught fire on the exit of The Chase.

Pitstops and driver changes under the Safety Car jumbled up the order again, giving Romain Dumas the lead in the #911 Manthey Porsche and Jules Gounon second aboard the #17 Bentley second.

On the lap 147 restart, Gounon powered his way by Dumas for the lead up Mountain Straight until the race was neutralised almost instantly when the #88 Ginetta of Will Tregurtha and the #21 Class B Porsche collided at Griffins Bend, spearing the former into the tyre barrier at high speed.

Tregurtha walked away from the incident, though the Porsche of Daniel Stuttered managed to continue on, but received a five-minute penalty for his role in the crash, as Dumas and Gounon pitted on lap 148 – Dirk Werner taking over from Dumas and Guy Smith swapping over with Gounon.

Cameron Waters went through into the lead aboard the #55 Strakka Mercedes from Markus Winkelhock in the #74 Audi, with the 12th Safety Car coming out on lap 159 for the #65 Daytona Coupe, which stopped at The Cutting.

A pitstop took the Waters car out of the lead, with Winkelhock inheriting the top spot in the #74 Audi ahead of van der Linde in the #22 Audi, while Campbell started to sneak up the order in the #12 Competition Motorsports Porsche.

Van der Linde’s contact with the wall brought to a close the eighth hour of the race just as another round of pitstops began to kick off, changing up the order once again.

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By: Slade Perrins.