MERCEDES-BENZ AMG WINS THE BATHURST 12 HOUR

The 2022 Bathurst 12 Hour-winning Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 was damaged earlier this year at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, but was repaired and is now a Mount Panorama winner. Photo: Nathan Wong.

AUDI may have set the pace in qualifying for the Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, but Mercedes-Benz AMG came home with victory today in the return of Australia’s GT international classic at Mount Panorama.

The Triple Eight-run SunEnergy1 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 of Jules Gounon, Kenny Habul, Luca Stolz and Martin Konrad scored victory by 8.7071-seconds at the end of 291 laps and 1808 kilometres of racing.

It’s the first time a Mercedes-Benz AMG has won the Bathurst 12 Hour since the Erebus Motorsport SLS spear-headed by Bernd Schneider won in 2013.

The win gave Gounon his second Bathurst 12 Hour win in a row given he won the 2020 race with Bentley. There was no race in 2021 due to the COVID:19 pandemic.

He becomes just the second driver to win the race back-to-back in the GT3 era alongside Darryl O’Young, who won for Audi in 2011 and 2012.

American-based Australian Habul, who finished second in 2018 in his debut in the race, claimed his first Bathurst 12 Hour victory in his fourth start in the Aussie GT3 classic.

The Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes team that O’Young now manages – with drivers Maro Engel, Daniel Juncadella and Kevin Tse – came home second, while the podium was rounded out by a third Mercedes-Benz AMG driven by Shane van Gisbergen, Broc Feeney and Prince Jefri Ibrahim.

For those who were unable to attend the race, the official program for this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour is available to order here from the V8 Sleuth Online Store.

The leading Audi home was the #74 Valvoline-backed car spearheaded by South African star Kelvin van der Linde, who shared with Nathaniel Berthon and local Brad Schumacher.

He was left dejected and forced to serve a two-minute penalty for his team exceeding the maximum driving time allowed for Schumacher and lit up the Mountain in response.

He set the fastest lap of the race, 2m03.1173s on lap 256, but it was too much to recover from and he remained one lap down at race’s end and unable to stop Mercedes-Benz AMG from clean sweeping the podium.

Fifth was the the only Lamborghini in the race (driven by Tony D’Alberto, Grant Denyer, David Wall and Adrian Deitz), leading home the Hallmarc Audi of Marc Cini, Dean Fiore and Lee Holdsworth.

The GT3 Am class was won by the Audi of James Koundouris, David Russell and Paul Stokell (finishing ninth overall), while the Class C win went to the Porsche GT3 Cup Car driven to 10th overall by Craig Lowndes, Alex Davison, Geoff Emery and car owner Scott Taylor.

The Class C-winning Porsche carried a litany of fan signatures as part of backing for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. Photo: Nathan Wong.

The Porsche ran this weekend in support of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, team owner Taylor donating $50,000 on top of the nearly $10,000 raised by fans who donated and in return were able to write their name on the Porsche.

There was a total of eight Safety Cars today, including the traditional first lap being run under SC conditions that extended to lap two given the fog surrounding the Mountain at 5.15am race start time this morning.

Two Safety Car periods were for fog while others were for crashed cars.

The first car out of the race was the Zane Morse-driven MARC II V8 that crashed at the top of the Mountain before the sun came up.

Accidents also accounted for Jack Perkins (in Mark Griffith’s Mercedes-Benz AMG), Dale Wood (in the Invitational Class KTM), Michael Sheargold (Mercedes-Benz AMG) and Stephen Grove (Porsche 911 GT3 R).

Rain arrived after the fog, making the Mountain a tricky place to drive. The pole-sitting #65 Audi made it to the traditional 1000-kilometre Bathurst distance, but no further. Photo: Nathan Wong.

The pole-sitting Audi of Chaz Mostert, Liam Talbot and Fraser Ross led in the early stages, but a litany of issues delayed it and it eventually was forced to retire after 161 laps.

13 of the 20 cars that started were left running at the end of the race.

Next year’s Bathurst 12 Hour will see the event return to its traditional February date – the 2023 event will be on February 3-5.

With over 20 years in the Australian motorsport industry, Noonan is the head of V8 Sleuth. He’s held a range of roles including working in television with Seven and Ten, print media and public relations. With a specialty in Australian motorsport history, he’s known around racing paddocks as ’the Sleuth’ and started his motorsport media career in 1997.