A decade of the 12 Hour – PART TWO

WE’RE taking a look back over the last decade of remarkable races that have built the history of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour. 

In part one, we covered off the transition to a GT3 event and the formative years of the race becoming ‘Australia’s International Enduro’.

Today we’re into the five major races that cemented its place as one of the ‘must win’ races on the long-distance calendar.

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.

2015

STARTERS: 50
FINISHERS: 34
LAPS: 269
WINNING MARGIN: 2.452s
ATTENDANCE: 32,297

JAPANESE driver Katsumasa Chiyo announced himself as a new Bathurst cult-hero in 2015 after delivering Nissan an unlikely Bathurst victory for the first time since 1992 in style.

Chiyo-san sat third on a late race restart but fired past two cars on the penultimate lap to take an incredible victory with co-drivers Florian Strauss and Wolfgang Riep.

Phoenix Racing’s Audi R8 driven by Laurens Vanthoor, Marco Mapelli and Markus Winkelhock led a majority of the race however were out-gunned in the closing stages by the flying Nissan, ultimately finishing two seconds behind in third.

Asian team Craft-Bamboo Racing finished third after a controversial final-corner tangle saw them, the Phoenix Audi and the Bentley Team M-Sport Continental GT3 scrap for second, third and fourth in the final corner.

Alex MacDowell, Stefan Mucke and two-time winner Darryl O’Young ultimately grabbed third with the Bentley fourth on debut.

Seven different brands finished in the top seven places at the end of a thrilling race that also featured a record 20-safety car interruptions.

2016

STARTERS: 36
FINISHERS: 20
LAPS: 297
WINNING MARGIN: 1.276s
ATTENDANCE: 37,074

McLAREN won their first ever Bathurst 12 Hour in 2016 thanks to a phenomenal performance from drivers Shane van Gisbergen, Alvaro Parente and Jonathon Webb.

Despite 13 safety car interruptions, the 2016 race was run at a breakneck pace and was the fastest ever set. During the race, van Gisbergen set the new outright Bathurst lap record (2m01.567s) having gone even quicker in qualifying on Saturday.

McLaren’s triumph was almost overshadowed by Nissan, 2015 winner Katsumasa Chiyo thrilling his growing legion of fans once again with a stunning pursuit of the leading McLaren in the closing laps.

Hauling in a five-second margin, Chiyo relentlessly closed to one second of the leader by the time the flag fell, he, Rick Kelly and Florian Strauss ultimately settling for second in a strong title defense for the NISMO team.

Bentley Team M-Sport made up for their last-lap disappointment in 2015 by finishing third with Matt Bell, Steven Kane and Guy Smith.

Five different brands finished in the top five and the 297 laps completed by the winner was the most on record.

View the full results for 2016

2017

STARTERS: 52
FINISHERS: 32
LAPS: 290
WINNING MARGIN: 1LAP
ATTENDANCE: 40,364

CRAIG LOWNDES, Jamie Whincup and Toni Vilander won the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour after yet another dramatic conclusion to a Bathurst enduro.

The Maranello Motorsport Ferrari trio outlasted the most competitive field the race has yet seen to win – but the dramatic final hour of the race once again provided compelling viewing, as a late challenge for victory by the No. 22 Scott Taylor Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT3 came close to victory but ultimately ended in a non-finish.

Defending 12-hour winner Shane van Gisbergen emerged in the lead after the final round of pit stops, narrowly heading Jamie Whincup in the Maranello Ferrari by two seconds.

The pair then staged a thrilling duel for the lead with Whincup putting two wheels on the grass to pass van Gisbergen down Conrod straight before pulling away in front as the race reached its final 45-minutes.

However a late Safety Car within the final 20 minutes re-closed the gap between the pair, only for van Gisbergen to sensationally crash out of the race at the dipper once the race had resumed, denying him, Maro Engel and Craig Baird second place.

Whincup then survived a final safety car interruption in the final 15 minutes before bringing the Ferrari home for the brands second Bathurst victory, backing up their 2014 effort.

The result delivered Whincup and Vilander their first Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour victories and Lowndes his second, the winners completing 290 laps – 1978km – of Mount Panorama en route to victory.

Van Gisbergen’s late race dramas – that also included a looming penalty for contact with a lapped vehicle – elevated the Ice Break Competition Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3R to second place, Marc Lieb, Patrick Long, Matt Campbell and David Calvert Jones delivering Porsche’s latest racer a Bathurst podium on debut. The quartet also won the B.R.M watches Pro/Am class thanks to their sensational performance.

Third was the Bentley Team M-Sport No. 17 car driven by Steven Kane, Guy Smith and Oliver Jarvis – Kane and Smith on the Bathurst podium for the second time in two years.

View the full results for 2017

2018

STARTERS: 50
FINISHERS: 32
LAPS: 271
WINNING MARGIN: 1.473s
ATTENDANCE: 41,610

AUDI Sport Team WRT claimed victory in the 2018 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour with its #37 entry of Robin Frijns, Stuart Leonard and Dries Vanthoor, after a massive crash caused a red flag in the closing stages of the race.

Coming home in second was the #75 SunEnergy1Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Kenny Habul, Tristan Vautier, Jamie Whincup and Raffaele Marciello, while third was the #540 Black Swan Racing Porsche entry of Tim Pappas, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Luca Stolz and Marc Lieb.

The WRT squad sat in the lead of the race into the final 30 minutes when an enormous crash at the top of the Mountain ended the 2018 edition of the race early.

To that point the race was finely poised for a dramatic finish of a different kind, with the leading Audi and Mercedes-AMG entries taking a risky fuel strategy to get them home and hoping for Safety Car interventions or the red flag to get them home.

The fourth-placed Competition Motorsport Porsche was the first car assured of enough fuel to make it to the end had the race gone to distance. It was the third win for Audi and the first for all three drivers and the experienced WRT outfit.

Class A Pro-Am was taken out by the third place overall finishes Black Swan Racing, while the crashed Supabarn Audi won Class A Am, completing the most amount of laps in the class.

Grove Racing took out the Porsche Class B victory with drivers Stephen Grove, Brenton Grove and Ben Barker, while Boost Mobile Class C was won by the #30 Boat Works Racing BMW M4 GT4 of Tony Longhurst, Aaron Seton and Matthew Brabham.

The Racer Industries Invitational Class winners were the #91 MARC Cars Australia MARC II V8 of Keith Kassulke, Rod Salmon and Will Brown.

View the full results for 2018

2019

STARTERS: 38
FINISHERS: 23
LAPS: 312
WINNING MARGIN: 3.441s
ATTENDANCE: 49,495

THE FINAL 12-Hour of the decade would also be one of the very best ever, a record-breaking race delivering Porsche a fairytale first ever victory at Mount Panorama in a stunning finish.

Driving an Earl Bamber Motorsport-prepared Porsche 911 GT3R, Matt Campbell, Denis Olsen and Dirk Werner dramatically won the race after Queenslander Campbell stormed from fourth to first in the final 20 minutes thanks to a series of stunning passes.

After an aggressive move on the Schnitzer BMW of Chaz Mostert, Campbell then lined up Italian ace Raffalele Marciello’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 at turn one, slicing down the inside to grab second. Having been one of the only leading cars to give up track position to take new tyres in the final round of pitstops, the Porsche flew home and within a few laps of the flag caught and passed the leading R-Motorsport Aston Martin of Jake Dennis.

Dennis, Marvin Kirchoffer and Matthieu Vaxiviere delivered Aston their best ever Bathurst result in second, while Maximilian Buhk, Gotz and Marchiello were third for GruppeM AMG.

In another late charge, Shane van Gisbergen dragged his Triple Eight Racing Mercedes-AMG shared with Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup from nowhere to fourth in the final hour.

The race broke almost every 12-Hour record in the books: at 312 laps completed it was the fastest and longest ever 12-Hour on record. 7 cars finished on the lead lap while the race was run at a remarkable average speed of 161km/hr. 13 different race leaders and 30 lead changes were also race records.

View the full results for 2019