2020 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour champion Jules Gounon has sung the praises of his M-Sport Bentley team after taking one of the most dominant victories in the race’s history.
Leading almost non-stop from before the halfway mark, the #7 Bentley Continental GT3 controlled the second stanza of the race, Gounon and team-mates Maxime Soulet and Jordan Pepper overcoming a tense final hour to breakthrough for Bentley’s first win in six attempts.
Resetting the record for the lowest grid position to win the once-around-the-clock race, the #7 crew fought from 11th in qualifying to show genuine race pace and fight for victory towards the end.
Gounon says he had to balance being quick and conservative as the big Bentley suffered a puncture late in the race.
“It was an amazing race,” Gounon said.
“Obviously after yesterday I never thought we’d have the pace to win the race but I think the track came to us towards the end of the race, the track rubbered up.
“It was really, really tense at the end because I had a puncture before the last stint so the team was really scared after the puncture of (Raffaele) Marciello.
“It was a matter of trying to keep the car away from the kerbs, the debris, so it was tense still; not flat out but trying to manage the problem.
“It’s amazing for us, amazing for M-Sport, I think the new car showed potential last year and we’ve never had a big win except Paul Ricard, so it’s a big one for us.”
Speaking about the puncture, the Frenchman believes the racing gods were looking down on him and his team today as they pulled off one of the greatest escapes in the race’s history.
“I was behind Marciello, I think it was one lap after so I was trying to push a bit and suddenly I had a big noise, an explosion.
“You have those days where everything comes together for you; you see the rain dropping after I passed the line.
“Thanks to the racing gods I can say it was a good one.
“When you get a puncture while leading in the last hour at Bathurst, it’s not a nice moment but we’re standing here now.”
The victory makes Bentley the sixth different marque in as many events to win the 12 Hour and the first British team to finish on top in the 18 editions of the race.
Words: Jordan Mulach