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HomeNewsBathurstReigning victors lead Bathurst 12 Hour at halfway

Reigning victors lead Bathurst 12 Hour at halfway

A CLEVER strategy play has vaulted the #75 SunEnergy1 Mercedes-AMG into the lead of the Bathurst 12 Hour as the race reaches its halfway point.

Jules Gounon headed the running order after 156 laps, the Frenchman holding an 18-second margin over the #912 Manthey EMA Porsche with Mathieu Jaminet at the wheel, just ahead of the polesitting #999 GruppeM Mercedes-AMG in third with Raffaele Marciello aboard.

The #75, crewed by Gounon, Luca Stolz and Kenny Habul, had a rocky road to the front of the race.

They ran among the lead group in the early hours before Habul earnt a pit lane drivethrough penalty for crossing the blend line at pit exit.

The car remained on the lead lap despite pitting to serve the penalty and returning to the lane a lap later for Gounon to take over the wheel.

A 24-car field took the start. Pic: Supplied

From that point, the car moved off-sequence with the leading group and topped up its fuel tank during a subsequent Safety Car period.

A blistering stint from Stolz allowed them to leapfrog to the top of the order after the most recent round of green flag pit stops.

The #888 Triple Eight Mercedes-AMG is another car to have diverged from the rest of the lead group.

Shane van Gisbergen led the race during the third and fourth hours before falling behind the #912 Porsche after a brake pad change, but pitted 10 laps early at the end of its next stint – a move that leaves Broc Feeney currently seventh but with an extra pit stop compared to the cars ahead.

The BMWs run fifth and sixth with the #32 entry of Dries Vanthoor ahead of the #46 of Valentino Rossi, who ran as high as third during his first stint behind the wheel.

Liam Talbot held off a train of cars in the first hour. Pic: Ross Gibb Photography

The highest-placed Audi, the #777 Melbourne Performance Centre machine with Christopher Mies at the wheel, is in eighth place and leading the Pro-Am class.

One spot behind them is the #65 Sportsbet-backed Audi, whose drivers Chaz Mostert, Fraser Ross and Liam Talbot have endured a tumultuous race so far.

They fell off the lead lap in the first hour after a pit exit blend line infraction by Mostert, who drove a furious stint to catch and pass the leaders to earn the lap back.

However, three more laps were lost making repairs after Talbot brushed the wall on the exit of Griffins Bend in his subsequent stint.

The #65 Audi has since earnt back two of those laps via wave-arounds during Safety Car periods.

The #6 Wall Racing Lamborghini has been among the casualties. Pic: Ross Gibb Photography

Only 20 of the 24-car field remain running at the halfway point.

A series of crashes claimed the #74 Melbourne Performance Centre Audi, #4 Grove Racing Porsche and #44 Valmont Racing Mercedes – each of which drew a Safety Car period – while accident damage has forced the #6 Wall Racing Lamborghini out of the race.

The #10 Audi of Dylan O’Keeffe, Daniel Gaunt and Andrew Fawcett currently lead the Silver class in 13th outright, while the #111 MARC I Mazda of Grant Donaldson, Darren Currie and Geoff Taunton lead the Invitational class after the #19 Mercedes GT4 lost 10 laps after a mechanical issue left it stranded down the Hell Corner escape road.

Bathurst 12 Hour race order after 6 hours

175Habul / Gounon / StolzProMercedes-AMG156 laps
2912Campbell / Jaminet / PreiningProPorsche+18.8079s
3999Engel / Grenier / MarcielloProMercedes-AMG+20.2772s
477Juncadella / Ellis / CatsburgProMercedes-AMG+23.4065s
532Van der Linde / Vanthoor / WeertsProBMW+47.9635s
646Farfus / Martin / RossiProBMW+59.6411s
7888van Gisbergen / Feeney / GotzProMercedes-AMG+1m33.7962s
8777Mies / Feller / ShahinPro-AmAudi+1 lap
965Mostert / Ross / TalbotPro-AmAudi+1 lap
1024Bates / Love / ReynoldsPro-AmMercedes-AMG+1 lap
1199Whincup / Stanaway / IbrahimPro-AmMercedes-AMG+1 lap
12222Lowndes / Davison / Emery / TaylorPro-AmMercedes Benz+2 laps
1310Gaunt / O’Keeffe / FawcettSilverAudi+2 laps
1455Schumacher / Golding / VervischPro-AmAudi+2 laps
159Holdsworth / Fiore / CiniPro-AmAudi+3 laps
16101Poulakis / Hunt / Tse / HuiSilverMercedes-AMG+6 laps
1750Harrison / Ojeda / Wood / CramptonSilverAudi+7 laps
18111Currie / Donaldson / TauntonInvitationalMARC+15 laps
1947Russell / Webb / T Koundouris / J KoundourisSilverAudi+15 laps
2019Schiller / Pancione / GriffithInvitationalMercedes Benz+24 laps
DNF44Zalloua / Pires / Padayachee / CameronSilverMercedes-AMG89 laps
DNF6D’Alberto / Wall / Denyer / DeitzSilverLamborghini70 laps
DNF4S Grove / B Grove / De PasqualePro-AmPorsche 56 laps
DNF74Haase / Niederhauser / DrudiProAudi13 laps

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