A decade of the 12 Hour – PART ONE

AS 2019 draws to a close it seems appropriate to take a look back at a decade that saw what was once a domestic race for Production Cars become one of the world’s classic long-distance GT endurance races.

The growth of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour has been one of the biggest stories in Australian motorsport of the 2010s following a switch to GT3 regulations in 2011.

Here’s how the first half of the decade unfolded, with the remainder to follow tomorrow.

What was your favourite Bathurst 12 Hour of the last 10 years? Let us know on our social channels, via @bathurst12hour on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook or the hashtag, #b12hr.

2010

STARTERS: 42
FINISHERS: 26
LAPS: 202
WINNING MARGIN: 1LAP
ATTENDANCE: 17,714

A REMARKABLE race where nearly 40% of the 12 hours was spent either behind the safety car, or stopped due to the torrential rain that caused chaos all weekend (Nearly 80mm fell Saturday afternoon alone).

The race turned into a pitched battle between a horde of Mitsubishi Lancer EVO’s and the BMW 335i cannily driven by John Bowe, Paul Morris and car owner Garry Holt, who ended up toppling the four-wheel-drive cars to win the race under a safety-car finish. The Pro-Duct Evo of Neil Crompton, Glenn Seton and Mark King finished second, holding off the incredible Holden HSV R8 Tourer (wagon) of Nathan Pretty, Cam McConville and Andrew Jones, in a stunning third.

The 2010 race will forever be memorable for the events that occurred at approximately 12:45PM when a large tree fell across the circuit on the exit of Falken Forrest’s Elbow, completely blocking the circuit and forcing the race to a halt as Bathurst Regional Council workers, the SES and Event Officials used chainsaws to clear the circuit.

2011

STARTERS: 26
FINISHERS: 19
LAPS: 292
WINNING MARGIN: .714s
ATTENDANCE: 18,567

THE RETURN of GT vehicles to Mount Panorama delivered an exciting battle to the finish between Audi and Porsche – and Audi themselves.

The two Team Joest-run R8LMSs fought an inter-team battle to the flag that saw the international entry beat the Aussie’s by less than a second in an iconic form 1-2 finish.

The inclusion of international-specification GT3 vehicles saw the race opened to the world with a record number of people following the race via social media and live internet streaming across the day.

Naturally, with the quicker GT cars in attendance, the race lap record, laps completed and distance completed records were all set during the race however the timing of the fastest lap – set by Craig Lowndes within the last 90 minutes – showed how hot the pace was until the end.

The long-running Production Car fight between Mitsubishi and BMW continued in the ‘race within a race’ battle – the Peter Conroy Motorsport Lancer edging out the GWS Motorsport BMW at the end of a long day.

2012

STARTERS: 25
FINISHERS: 18
LAPS: 270
WINNING MARGIN: 1m13.28s
ATTENDANCE: 19,728

THE 2012 Race was run in constant wet weather, with only 18 cars finishing.

Phoenix Racing’s Audi R8 LMS took the chequered flag by 13 seconds from Erebus Motorsport’s Mercedes Benz SLS AMG followed by Clearwater Racing’s Ferrari 458 Italia.

The wet weather on race day meant lap times were well down and the winner completed only 270 laps. However, a dry period of the Race early on was all II Bello Rosso’s Allan Simonsen needed to set a new race lap record.

Audi held supremacy for much of the day, but it didn’t mean the race was undramatic. Pushed hard by the leading Erebus SLS AMG all day, at one stage the #1 car ended buried in the Murray’s corner sand trap – only to be recovered before going one lap behind the then-leading Mercedes. Had the lap been lost, the overall result may have been very different indeed. Clearwater Racing finished third in their Ferrari, on debut from their Asian base.

The inclusion of international-specification GT3 vehicles saw the race opened to the world with a record number of people following the race via social media and live internet streaming across the day.

2013

STARTERS: 49
FINISHERS: 34
LAPS: 268
WINNING MARGIN: 1LAP
ATTENDANCE: 22,453

A REMARKABLE downpour hours from the end of the 2013 race threw added drama into an already dramatic day, won by the Erebus Motorsport Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 driven by Germans Thomas Jaeger, Alex Roloff and Bernd Schneider.

Mercedes’ first win on the mountain saw them hold off the Clearwater Racing Ferrari 458 GT3 of Craig Baird, Matt Griffin and Mok Weng Sung by little over one lap after the Ferrari was slightly delayed mid race – Baird and Griffin storming back into contention within the final few hours.

Shane van Gisbergen, Klark Quinn, Matt Kingsley and Tony Quinn finished third outright in their Porsche GT3R, their drive notable for van Gisbergen’s incredible car control in the wet conditions that saw him passing cars around the outside of Reid park, on slick tyres, in torrential rain.

49 cars started the 2013 race, the most since its return in 2007.

2014

STARTERS: 40
FINISHERS: 28
LAPS: 296
WINNING MARGIN: 0.413s
ATTENDANCE: 26,131

BATHURST legend Craig Lowndes added another chapter to his incredible record on the mountain when he teamed with John Bowe, Peter Edwards and Mika Salo to win the most thrilling Bathurst 12 Hour yet in 2014.

Under fire from a flying Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG driven by German star Maximilian Buhk, Lowndes fended off attack after attack from the flying German in the final three laps before delivering Ferrari their first major victory on the Mountain in stunning fashion.

Buhk, Harold Primat and 2013 winner Thomas Jaeger ultimately finished second – 0.41s behind in the closest ever race finish in 12 Hour history.

Erebus Motorsport finished third with Greg Crick, Will Davison and Jack LeBrocq in a stunning drive despite substantial damage to their Mercedes Benz – Davison forced to fend off a flying Shane van Gisbergen in the closing stages to secure his spot on the podium.

Run at a hectic pace, the 2014 race was the fastest ever contested to that point and also set a distance record of 296 laps / 1839km across the 12 Hours.