Half way reached: van Gisbergen leads

11.39am Update:

Shane van Gisbergen leads as the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour heads towards the start of its seventh hour at The Mountain.

Van Gisbergen in the #22 Mercedes AMG Team STM/HTP Motorsport Mercedes AMG leads Jamie Whincup in the #88 Maranello Motorsport Ferrari, the #24 Nissan Motorsport Nissan GT-R and the #17 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental.

The classes are currently being led by the #5 GT Motorsport Pty Ltd Porsche 911 (Rydges Bathurst GT3 AM), the #12 Competition Motorsports powered by Ice Break Porsche (BRM Watches GT3 Pro-AM), the #22 (Liqui-Moly GT3 Pro-Pro), the #21 Nissan Motorsport GTR (myPlates Class B GT3), the #48 Interlloy M Motorsport KTM X-Bow GT4 (Avis Class C) and the #91 MARC Cars Australia Focus V8 (Racer Industries Class I).

The last hour has been highlighted by close battles for the lead between the #88 and the #22, including a number of laps that saw them swapping positions to the delight of race fans.

Earlier, the fourth hour got off to a bang with a big hit on the restart in Virgin Australia Corner. The #12 Competition Motorsports powered by Ice Break Porsche made contact with the #75 Jamec Pem Audi of Christopher Mies to spin the Audi in the middle of the corner, leaving nowhere for the #94 MARC Cars Australia Mazda of Leanne Tander – the wife of Mies’ team mate Garth Tander – to go. The driver of the #12 was served a drive through penalty for their role in the incident. Both Leanne Tander and Mies were clearly frustrated after the incident. Mies was able to bring the car back to pit lane to avoid a safety car, but it wouldn’t be long before one was called.

At 9.01am the SC would be required for the #35 Infants Friend Team Lubrimaxx Aston Martin which found itself in the wall at the Virgin Australia Corner after a heavy straight-on impact. Driver George Miedecke exited the car under his own power and was checked by the medical team. After being released, Miedecke noted issues with fumes in the car contributing to his driver error.

The leaders elected not to pit under the safety car for the MSM entry, with the #88 Maranello Motorsport Ferrari leading the #22 Mercedes. The race was restarted with 81 laps remaining at 9.15am, and again there was large drama, with Craig Baird turning around the #88 on the approach to Meguiar’s Corner before the apex (where overlapping is permitted) or the control line (where overtaking is allowed) were even reached. Another Safety Car was scrambled with the #88 stranded in the gravel trap. The marshalls did a fantastic job to get out of the gravel trap within just three seconds of going down a lap and the race restarted at 9.25am. The #88 came to the pit lane for a driver change with Jamie Whincup taking over the reins while the #22 was soon received a pit lane stop and hold (10 seconds) penalty.

Also drawing the eye of the officials at this point were the #54 Donut King MARC Cars Australia  (PLP – safety car restart), the #90 (PLP – pit lane speeding) and the #83 (PLP – pit lane speeding).

The next Safety Car was called at  9.38am, with the #2 DJS Racing Audi LMS R8 stuck in the gravel at Virgin Australia Corner after contact from behind by Ivan Capelli in the #29 Trofeo Motorsport Lamborghini Hurricane.

Race leader Steven Kane – who had taken over the race lead in the #17 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental when Baird served his penalty – pitted under the Safety Car, seeing Todd Kelly in the #24 Nissan Motorsport Nissan GTR take over. Second on the road was the #88 with a hard-charging Whincup at the wheel.

The restart was made at 9.46am, but again there wasn’t to be much green running with the lapped #60 Laser Plumbing and Electrical Porsche coming into contact with the third-placed #37 Darrell Lea Tekno Autosports McLaren to see Tony Quinn eventually stranded at the Elbow to call out the Safety Car. There were a number of very close calls as oncoming cars worked furiously to avoid the McLaren.

The race got underway again at 10.10am with Todd Kelly (#24) leading Jamie Whincup (#88), Steven Kane (#17) and Craig Baird (#22). The battle for the top spots was well and truly on at this point, with Kane making an astonishing move on Whincup through the Caltex Chase for second position and going on to challenge for first, while Baird also involved himself in the turtle. Kane later ran into trouble, dropping back the order.

Another safety car would be called at 10.37am for the stranded #50 Synep Racing Porsche, stuck at Virgin Australia Corner. The race was restarted at 10.44am with 114 laps completed.

As the fifth hour rounded out, the #7 Team Castrol Vodafone BMW found itself in the pit lane with a lifting bonnet due  to a front right quarter panel issue, with Ingall returning to pit lane with limited visibility as a result. Ingall wasn’t the only one having bonnet dramas, with the #93 MARC Cars Australia Mazda 3 coming to the pits soon after with its own bonnet problems.

Soon after, Whincup took the lead in the Ferrari, before going on to bang doors with Shane van Gisbergen in the start of the battle for the lead which, for now at least, van Gisbergen would win.

After the longest period of green running for some time – 50 minutes – the safety car was again required at 11.31am, with Russell Ingall in the #7 into the wall at the Sparesbox Dipper with heavy impact.

At the time of posting this update, the safety car period continues.

Also gaining the attention of officials was the #51 (PLP for driving through the red light at the pit exit under SC), #12 (PLP for pit lane speeding), #69 (2 x PLP – pit lane speeding and 1 x two minute stop and hold for failing to serve previous PLP in appropriate time) and the #83 (two minute stop and hold for failing to serve previous PLP in appropriate time).

For full results go to http://www.bathurst12hour.com.au/results/

Live timing is available at http://bathurst12hour.com.au/live-timing

The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour action continues here at Mount Panorama with nine hours remaining. For more on how to follow along across the weekend, including live streaming and free to air coverage, please go to http://www.bathurst12hour.com.au/news/how-to-watch-the-b12hr/