BMW Team Schnitzer leads at the end of an action-packed opening hour at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour as the sun begins to rise over Mount Panorama.
Chaz Mostert, who started the #43 BMW M6 GT3 from pole position, has cleared off at the front of the field by a margin of 48 seconds over the second-placed #74 Jamec Pem Racing Audi of Markus Winkelhock, with the sister #22 Jamec Pem Audi of Frederic Vervisch sitting in third place.
Porsche Class B is currently led by Ben Barker aboard the #4 Grove Racing 911 GT3 Cup, while the #44 BMW Team SRM M6 GT3 of Cameron Hill is out front in Boost Mobile Class C.
Racer Industries Invitational Class C has the #67 MARC Cars Australia MARC II of Jake Camilleri leading.
As it happened:
Mostert led away at the start from Vervisch in the #22 Audi, before an early safety car was thrown for the #96 MARC Cars Australia entry of John Goodacre, which had spun on formation lap approaching the final turn.
On the Lap 6 restart, Mostert led the field back to green cleanly as Christopher Haase, who started the #74, picked off the #777 The Bend Motorsport Park Lamborghini of Luke Youlden at Griffins Bend for third spot.
Further down the order, the #100 BMW Team SRM M6 GT3 of Timo Glock was making its way back to the front, sitting 32nd overall after the first 20 minutes of the race after being sent to the rear of the grid with a technical breach in qualifying.
Mostert started to check out up front, just as the Class B-leading Grove Racing Porsche of Barker received a drive-through penalty for overlapping on the start, dropping the entry to second in class and 35th overall.
The leading BMW Team Schnitzer car of Mostert had to deal with the first signs of traffic as the clock ticked over the first 30 minutes, Mostert clearing the cars swiftly but smartly.
An issue put the #33 MARC Cars Australia entry in the garage, with the car rejoining the race 4 laps later.
With 45 minutes down, Jamec Pem Racing swapped its second and third place cars around, with the #74 of Haase moving up to second and the #22 of Vervisch down to third, before the latter came under pressure from Youlden in the #777 Lamborghini.
The pair scraped hard for a number of laps, running side-by-side multiple times until Youlden moved himself up into third around the outside of Griffins Bend.
Vervisch was then caught up to by the fifth-placed #58 YNA Autosport McLaren 650s of Andrew Watson, who lost time running wide at Skyline while challenging for the spot.
After inheriting the Class B lead from the Grove Porsche, Chris van der Drift struck trouble in the #23 Carrera Cup Asia car, spinning on the exit of The Chase before returning to pit lane with a left rear puncture.
Just as the hour came to a close, the #777 Lamborghini lost its third place with a left rear puncture after rubbing wheels with the #40 Class B Porsche of Aaron Zerefos, forcing the former into the garage for repairs.
“Obviously, passing a slower car, he must have seen me because he gave me room out of Turn 2,” said Youlden of the incident.
“But then on the exit, I don’t know, I’ll have to have a look at a replay, but it felt like to me he just continued his normal line and didn’t respect that I was there.”
On Mountain straight, three Class A cars attempted to pass a Class B Porsche, with the #991 Craft-Bamboo Porsche and the #56 Strakka Racing Mercedes each taking different sides. But at Griffins Bend, the #75 Tristan Vautier-driven SunEnergy1 Racing AMG dove up the inside of Maximilian Buhk aboard the #56.
The two cars made contact, pushing Buhk wide, who then made slight contact with the tyre wall, leaving the Strakka AMG with front-left cosmetic and slight steering damage.
The car rejoined the race in 38th overall, with race control deciding there would be no action taken over the incident.
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By: Slade Perrins.