2016 Bathurst 12 Hour winner Alvaro Parente has continued to show 59Racing’s strong form over the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour field by leading the pack into the fifth hour.
The Portuguese national took over control of the #60 McLaren 720S just after the two hour marker, driving it to a consistent lap time at the front of the field while retaining a safe gap over the chasing pack behind.
The race’s third hour started with the #888 car of Maxi Gotz leading the way after inheriting the lead late in the first stanza of the race, holding off the pole sitting #911 Absolute Racing entry of Mathieu Jaminet while Parente’s #60 McLaren sat in 13th after leading the most laps, having taken a second pit stop.
A brave move on the outside of Griffin’s Bend from Alex Imperatori put the #18 KCMG Nissan GTR up into fourth place after he managed to get a run on Luca Stolz’s #77 Mercedes AMG GT3 up Mountain Straight, setting the sights on Jaminet who had been passed by Jules Soulet in the #7 Bentley Continental GT3.
The #22 Audi of Garth Tander brought out the third safety car of the race after the Audi Sport Team Valvoline driver went off at high speed at McPhillamy Park, the car snapping on him at the apex and into the tyre wall at high speed.
Tander emerged from the R8 LMS GT3 unscathed but the day for the car, shared with two-time winner Chris Mies and Mirko Bortolotti, was over after floating on the cusp of the top ten.
A raft of pit stops were triggered by the safety car deployment, coming a lap after Gotz came in for his second stop. Felipe Fraga took the lead in the #999 GruppeM Racing Mercedes AMG, followed by more Mercs from Black Falcon in the #46, driven by Sergey Afanasiev, and the #77 with Yelmer Buurman behind the wheel.
Afanasiev in the Silver Class car moved aside to let the following pack past, allowing Buurman and Parente’s McLaren through to set after the #999 machine as Fraga led the end of the third hour.
Yesterday’s pole man and 2019 champion Matt Campbell moved the #911 up to fifth in pursuit of Gounon’s #8 Bentley, getting past Afanasiev as the #46 dropped back through the Pro cars.
The #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport entry of Nicky Catsburg came in for an unscheduled pit stop to amend some damaged bodywork on the front of the BMW M6 GT3, dropping a lap to the leaders as the repairs took longer than expected.
Car #60 retook the lead on lap 86 when Fraga headed to the pits for his third stop of the day, jumping out to put Raffaele Marciello behind the wheel of the Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing car as Parente stayed in the lead.
Audi’s tough day continued when the #24 Bostik Australia R8 of Max Twigg came to a halt up Mountain Straight, just as the #9 Hallmark car, driven by Marc Cini was spun heading into Sulman Park by Jamie Whincup in the #888.
Falling just shy of the 100 lap mark only four hours in to the race, the top ten order stands at #60, #7, #911, #888, #1, #912, #2, #8, #222 and #59 with previous race leaders, car #999, in 12th out of sequence.
Words: Jordan Mulach