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HomeNewsBathurstSunEnergy1 clings on for back-to-back Bathurst 12 Hour wins

SunEnergy1 clings on for back-to-back Bathurst 12 Hour wins

MERCEDES and SunEnergy1 have claimed back-to-back Bathurst 12 Hour victories after a thrilling battle to the finish.

Jules Gounon fended off a desperate charge from Matt Campbell in the #912 Manthey EMA Porsche by 0.9276-seconds, with the #999 GruppeM Mercedes-AMG of Maro Engel a heartbeat away in third place after a dramatic final two hours.

The polesitting #999 Mercedes of Engel, Mikhail Grenier and Raffaele Marciello held sway as the race entered its 11th hour, but a problem with the modem attached to its data logger threatened its chances.

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A simple swap at its final pit stop rectified the problem, but a gamble to send Gounon out without a tyre change allowed the #75 car to emerge from the pits ahead of Engel.

After stalking him for several laps and looking for a chance to overtake, Engel attempted a move on Gounon at the Chase on Lap 300.

However, the yellow Mercedes made contact with the left rear of the orange Mercedes, sending Gounon spinning while Engel moved into the lead.

Race stewards immediately investigated the incident and soon handed down a pit lane drive-through penalty for Engel that dropped him to third place, 15 seconds adrift of the leader.

He put in an astonishing charge to close his deficit to 1.4177s by the end, but the third step was poor reward for a sterling drive undone by a single mistake.

Habul, now a two-time 12 Hour winner in both Pro-Am and Pro Class-headlined events, was thrilled by the victory.

“It’s unbelievable, Luca and Jules just drove the balls off this car and I’m just so proud of them,” he said.

“First I’m gonna run around the track naked, and then I’m gonna drink a lot tonight!”

He cheekily added in the press conference: “They told me I wasn’t going to say I have half a woody (on TV again), so I’ll say I have half a chub instead.”

The crew celebrate as Gounon takes the chequered flag. Pic: Supplied

An exhausted Gounon, now a three-time winner having also claimed victory with Bentley in 2020, struggled for words after climbing out of the car after the race with the tense final stint taking its toll.

“First of all, sorry to Maro for the contact,” said Gounon.

“To win Bathurst, it’s … I’m sorry, I’m really dead. The last stint with old tyres and having to defend, and seeing great drivers like Maro (and Matt closing in).”

The #32 WRT BMW of Sheldon van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts were the best of the rest as the only other car to finish on the lead lap, albeit over half a minute behind the victors.

Triple Eight once again came up short of winning the 12 Hour with its marquee #888 entry, which Broc Feeney, Maxi Goetz and Shane van Gisbergen brought home fifth after a pit lane penalty in the ninth hour dropped them off the lead lap.

The BMWs in the thick of the mid-race action. Pic: Supplied

Valentino Rossi’s maiden Bathurst 12 Hour delivered a sixth-place finish for he, Augusto Farfus and Maxime Martin, also one lap off the pace after they were forced to briefly put the #46 WRT BMW into the garage to rectify a problem with its taillights.

Chaz Mostert, Fraser Ross and Liam Talbot secured Pro-Am honours (plus the bespoke watches containing pieces of the Mount Panorama sign) with seventh place.

Victory in the Silver class went to the #10 Audi of Dylan O’Keeffe, Daniel Gaunt and Andrew Fawcett with a 12th-place finish overall, while the #111 MARC I Mazda of Darren Currie, Grant Donaldson and Geoff Taunton was the sole survivor of the Invitational class as the 17th and final race finisher.

The furious pace at the front of the race also delivered a new race distance record of 323 laps for a total of 2006 kilometres, up from the 314 laps completed in the 2020 race.

RESULTS: 2023 Bathurst 12 Hour

175Habul / Gounon / StolzProMercedes-AMG323 laps
2912Campbell / Jaminet / PreiningProPorsche+0.9676s
3999Engel / Grenier / MarcielloProMercedes-AMG+1.4177s
432Van der Linde / Vanthoor / WeertsProBMW+44.7475s
5888van Gisbergen / Feeney / GotzProMercedes-AMG+1 laps
646Farfus / Martin / RossiProBMW+1 laps
765Mostert / Ross / TalbotPro-AmAudi+2 laps
877Juncadella / Ellis / CatsburgProMercedes-AMG+2 lap
9777Mies / Feller / ShahinPro-AmAudi+3 lap
1099Whincup / Stanaway / IbrahimPro-AmMercedes-AMG+4 lap
1124Bates / Love / ReynoldsPro-AmMercedes-AMG+7 lap
1210Gaunt / O’Keeffe / FawcettSilverAudi+7 laps
139Holdsworth / Fiore / CiniPro-AmAudi+7 laps
14101Poulakis / Hunt / Tse / HuiSilverMercedes-AMG+13 laps
1550Harrison / Ojeda / Wood / CramptonSilverAudi+14 laps
1647Russell / Webb / T Koundouris / J KoundourisSilverAudi+22 laps
17111Currie / Donaldson / TauntonInvitationalMARC+40 laps
DNF55Schumacher / Golding / VervischPro-AmAudi243 laps
DNF19Schiller / Pancione / GriffithInvitationalMercedes Benz210 laps
DNF222Lowndes / Davison / Emery / TaylorPro-AmMercedes Benz177 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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