THE #911 Manthey-Racing Porsche of Fred Makowiecki leads heading into the final hour of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour after a highly dramatic segment in the race.
Class B is led by Grove Racing and its #4 entry, the #30 Boat Works Racing BMW M4 GT4 leads Class C, while the #91 MARC Cars Australia MARC II V8 is out front in the Invitational class.
As it happened:
Raffaele Marciello in the #75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 cycled back to the front of the field as the end of the eighth hour approached, while Christopher Haase sat second in the #74 Audi.
The sister #22 Jamec Pem Audi returned to the circuit with Frederic Vervisch behind the wheel after spending an hour in the garage getting repaired following a hit on the wall for Kelvin van der Linde on lap 174.
Vervisch rejoined 30 laps off the lead as the race began to settle down heading into the final three hours wit Marciello sill leading out front.
A changing moment of the race came on lap 218 as the battle for third between the #17 Bentley of Steven Kane, #991 Craft-Bamboo Racing Porsche of Kevin Estre and #43 BMW Team Schnitzer M6 of Chaz Mostert came together in dramatic fashion.
Mostert tried to find his way by both Estre and Kane, however the trio became bottled up behind a Class B Porsche, with the BMW and the Bentley making contact.
An additional hit on the #40 Class B Porsche sent Kean Booker into the right hand wall, as the BMW came back across the road, hitting the left hand wall.
Estre in the #991 Craft-Bamboo Porsche managed to make it through the incident relatively unscathed with Mostert and Kane in the Bentley returning to the garage.
BMW Team Schnitzer decided to retire from the race though, evaluating that the damage on pole-sitter Mostert’s M6, that he shares with Marco Wittmann and Augusto Farfus was too extensive to continue.
“I was really struggling to try get past the Porsche and Bentley there, but our car was mega quick all race,” said Mostert.
“The only way I was going to get past them was to take advantage of lapped traffic and had a big crack around the outside at Forrest’s Elbow and the coming around the Elbow the space for me dissapeared.
“A space for me went to no space and unfortunately made contact with the Bentley and the Class B Porsche – basically hurt all three of our races.”
Meanwhile, David Fumaneli in the #55 Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing car led the field back to green on the Safety Car restart before running wide and handing the lead back to Winkelhock in the #74 Audi
Safety Car intervention number 15 came only moments later when the #777 The Bend Motorsport Park Lamborghini lost a wheel on Conrod Straight, while at the same time, the #17 Bentley rejoined the race with Jules Gounon behind the wheel, though six laps down in 18th.
Marciello pitted the #75 AMG to hand over to Jamie Whincup, who returned to the circuit in third, as Earl Bamber took over from Estre in the #991, exiting the pits in fourth.
Winkelhock held the lead on the restart as the Audi Sport Team WRT R8 of Robin Frijns stuck with the German, keeping within 0.5s for a number of laps before dropping back slightly.
On Lap 239, Jamec Pem’s challenge for the win came to a grinding halt when leader, Winkelhock stopped at The Cutting bringing out the Safety Car again.
At the same time, the #93 MARC Cars Australia entry of Garry Jacobson has its front wheel depart from the car as it exited pit lane up Mountain Straight, bringing the car to a stop.
Fred Makowiecki found himself in the lead under the Safety Car aboard the #911 Manthey-Racing Porsche leading away on the restart as teams began to play there final strategy cards into the final hour.
Fumaneli pitted the #55 Strakka AMG out of second just as the hour ticked over to hand the car over to Lewis Williamson.
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By: Slade Perrins.