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HomeNewsBathurstRain persists as reigning champs hit Bathurst 12 Hour lead

Rain persists as reigning champs hit Bathurst 12 Hour lead

WET weather has mixed up the race order throughout the third quarter of the Repco Bathurst 12 Hour, with the reigning victors hitting the front under green-flag running for the first time.

Jules Gounon took over the lead aboard the #75 SunEnergy1 Mercedes-AMG as the ninth hour came to a close, with the long-time leading #912 Porsche shifting to a slightly different pitstop strategy to its rivals amid the changing conditions.

Rain first started falling just past the halfway point of the race as a Safety Car period was called for an incident between #2 Riccardo Feller and #10 John Holinger that sent the latter’s IRC GT into the barriers at the Esses.

It prompted all the leading contenders to progressively head to the pits for wet tyres, although a mistake during the #912 Porsche’s pitstop drew a penalty for not completing the minimum pitstop time during a stop where fuel was added to the car.

Serving the penalty twice – the first time didn’t count as it happened during a subsequent Safety Car period – dropped Matt Campbell to 15th, but he quickly began to recover ground in the tricky conditions.

That handed the lead to the #13 Phantom Global Porsche, which held sway as conditions dried and teams progressively pit for slick tyres.

The Safety Car came back out again on Lap 172 when the repaired #10 IRC GT crashed again on its return to the track, this time with Cameron Hill aboard.

Its timing, however, came after all but one of the leading cars had pitted: the Pro-Am class #911 Porsche with Alessio Picariello behind the wheel.

Manthey EMA ended up bringing the car in once the Full Course Yellow procedure kicked in, allowing Yasser Shahin to return to the track still in the lead.

However, the GT World Challenge Australia regular quickly slid down the field on the restart as the rain returned.

The increasing downpour soon prompted a wholesale switch to wet-weather tyres – save for Cam Waters, who attempted to persist on slicks in the #22 STM Mercedes-AMG but lasted one nerve-wracking lap before pitting.

Incredibly, the round of stops elevated Campbell back to the lead, and he exploited the clear track and the Porsche’s stable handling in the wet to pull a large lead over the warring pack behind him, headed by the #77 Craft-Bamboo and #130 GruppeM Mercedes-AMGs of Maxi Gotz and Maro Engel respectively.

However, Campbell was the first of the leaders to head to the lane for the next round of stops on Lap 207, Ayhancan Güven hopping back behind the wheel to give the team the option of putting either Campbell or Laurens Vanthoor into the car for the final stints.

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