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HomeNewsBathurstEngel ‘respects’ decision to penalise him over collision

Engel ‘respects’ decision to penalise him over collision

BEFORE saying anything about becoming the first three-time Bathurst 12 Hour winner, Jules Gounon had something else to say.

Sorry.

It was a quick but genuine apology to his good friend Maro Engel, who’d been the fastest driver across the weekend aboard the rival #999 GruppeM Mercedes and had spun him out of the lead with 45 minutes remaining.

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Gounon nevertheless took the win aboard the #75 SunEnergy1 Mercedes, regaining the lead when Engel was deemed the guilty party by stewards and given a pit lane drive through penalty.

In a twist of fate, the friends were celebrating a class victory together in the Daytona 24 Hours just one week ago.

“First of all, I apologise to Maro because last week we won the biggest race in the world and this week we fight hard to win a race and unfortunately we had contact,” Gounon said.

“It’s a very uncomfortable situation as he’s a friend; I would much rather like to touch with somebody else in the room, but at the end it’s racing.

“A chance to win Bathurst in your life are really small, so Maro went for it and I also defended – it was not only him, it was on me to try to make the corner as well.

“I think it’s a racing incident but, I think, to win Bathurst you will sell your mother, so that’s what happened a bit today for me!”

Pic: Callum Cleaves

A clearly downcast Engel, who charged back to third place just 1.4 seconds off the win, said he respected the stewards decision but wasn’t willing to comment on whether he agreed with it.

“First of all, congrats to the #75 crew. As Jules said, we’re all good friends, Jules Kenny and Luca, so I’m very, very happy for them,” Engel said.

“At the same time, obviously, it’s extremely disappointing for us.

“I think it was our race. We had everything under control until we were requested to add a data logger at the last pit stop. That threw us behind them.

Pic: Callum Cleaves

“From there on, I knew I had to make a move and they were just so quick in the straight that it was … even though I had fresh tyres and good exits it was hard to keep up on the straights.

“The problem was that when you’re running behind in the slipstream your tyres start to overheat and degrade quicker.

“I knew I had to make a move quicker than wait longer because I’d start to suffer degradation and my tyre advantage would be gone. That’s why I chose to try the move when I did.

“I respect the decision of race control. Not much more to say.”

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