AUSTRALIAN Matt Campbell has driven the #912 Earl Bamber Motorsport Porsche home to win this year’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour after a 20 minute sprint to the finish.
The Porsche young gun called on his years of experience with the stories German marque to take advantage of fresh tyres at the end of the race, carving his way up through those in front to take the lead with minutes to spare for his first Bathurst 12 Hour win.
His win with Dennis Olsen and Dirk Werner is under investigation due to late race contact with BMW’s Chaz Mostert but Campbell can celebrate crossing the line first after a career defining final stint.
Heading in to the final stanza of the race, the #912 was in first with #62, #999, #108, #42, #18 and #888 all chasing on the lead lap, meaning any one of them could work their way into the podium contention with strategy and a safety car.
Matt Campbell hopped aboard the #912 Earl Bamber Racing Porsche 911 on lap 279, filling the car to the end of the race with brand new tyres on both sides of the car.
With the stop, car #62 inherited the lead with Jake Dennis behind the wheel, holding a narrow two second lead over Raffaele Marciello in the #999 entry.
Oliver Jarvis was the next to pit in car #18, handing the Nissan GTR over to Alex Imperatori until the finish flag and emerging back on track behind the Campbell Porsche.
Next up was Raffaele Marciello in the #999 Team GruppeM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, staying in the car and taking fuel only but stalling on the exit of his pit bay. The mistake didn’t hurt him in the short term though, coming out some 20 seconds clear of Campbell.
Marciello nearly threw it all away, pushing hard on his out lap and dropping all four wheels on the grass at McPhillamy Park, lucky to not hit the wall.
Jake Dennis hit the lane on lap 285, also staying in the car and not taking tyres in the stop, making Campbell the only car so far to take new rubber. Dennis returned to the track ahead of the #999 as the #888 pitted at the same time, van Gisbergen emerging on track just behind Campbell.
On lap 287, Mostert came in for the #42 car’s final stop, following the mentality of his other rivals and not taking on tyres to come out just behind Dennis and Marciello, effectively dropping to third and four seconds ahead of Campbell.
Maxime Soulet relegated the lead to Dennis when he stopped lap 290 but when Andy Soucek on-board, the Spaniard stalled the Bentley Continental at the end of the pit lane, going to last out of the lead lap runners.
Dennis held the lead ahead of Marciello with 40 minutes left on the clock as Campbell applied the pressure to Mostert for third, the Australians engaging in a fight for the last step on the podium.
Campbell finally got past Mostert at the Chase, giving the BMW a love tap off the road just as the engine of Tim Macrow’s #50 Class C KTM machine let go on Conrod Straight, parking to the side while the safety car was deployed with only half an hour left, neutralising the race.
Under the safety car, van Gisbergen in the #888 Mercedes-AMG GT3 came in for new tyres as Dennis led from Marciello, Campbell, Mostert, Imperatori, Soucek and then van Gisbergen.
Imperatori was issued a drive through penalty for weaving just before the restart and nearly ended his race on the opening tour, going wide at Griffin’s Bend.
Dennis opened up a gap on the first lap as Campbell hounded the back of Marciello, showing the nose a few times to the #999 as the timer ticked down and the Mercedes-AMG started to slide around.
Campbell finally muscled his way past at Hell Corner on lap 304, setting his sights on Dennis in the Aston Martin two seconds up the road as Mostert went after Marciello.
With just over eight minutes to go, Campbell went down the inside of Dennis at Forrest Elbow, taking the place and holding off the V12 Aston Martin down Conrod Straight with help from the Objective Racing McLaren which moved out of the way.
A few places further back, van Gisbergen was on a charge on new tyres, getting past Soucek and Mostert to range up behind Marciello for the final podium spot, trying every which way to get past the bright yellow entry.
Nothing could stop Matt Campbell up front who crossed the line to win the Bathurst 12 Hour, 3.4 seconds ahead of Jake Dennis as Raffaele Marciello only just held off Shane van Gisbergen for the final spot on the podium.
In the Pro-Am class it’s the #51 Spirit of Race entry which takes the honours with Pedro Lamy driving the car home for a class victory with Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda.
Class B saw the Grove Group entry of Ben Barker and Stephen and Brenton Grove take another win at the mountain, making it a happy day for Porsche across the top two classes.
Class C was won by the #48 KTM of Glen Wood, Justin McMillan, Dean Lillie and Elliott Barbour only one lap ahead of the #13 BMW GT4.
The Invitational Class results saw the T2 Racing by Liajen Motorsport #20 car of Adam Hargraves, Daniel Jilesen and Steve Owen cross the line first, the only Class I cars to make it home.
Words: Jordan Mulach