Jules Gounon and SunEnergy1 Racing have led a Mercedes 1-2-3 podium sweep at Mount Panorama in an intense LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour.
Frenchman Gounon, who started from third at 5:15am this morning, scored his second straight LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour win as he crossed the line this evening.
Finishing second was the Mercedes of Hong Kong based team Craft Bamboo, who didn’t make qualifying yesterday due to an engine change.
Triple Eight completed the all Mercedes podium with Supercars’ Champion Shane van Gisbergen, his rookie teammate Broc Feeney and Prince Jefri Ibrahim.
The all Mercedes 1-2-3 marked the first time in the event’s GT3 era that a single brand swept the overall podium and Mercedes’ first Bathurst 12 Hour win since 2013.
Today’s result also marks the first wins for SunEnergy1, team owner Kenny Habul who lives on Mount Panorama, German Luca Stolz and Austrian Martin Konrad.
The podium ended a dramatic day of racing, where several big guns including the pole sitting Audi of Chaz Mostert crashed out early.
Mercedes now joins Ferrari on two GT3-era wins at Mount Panorama. Only Audi has more with three.
The SunEnergy1 squad was skippered to victory by former Triple Eight boss Roland Dane. The #75 SunEnergy1 Mercedes took control ahead of the final quarter of the race.
Once Gounon was behind the wheel, the orange AMG never looked back although he was pushed in the final hours by Maro Engel.
German ace Engel hounded Gounon, but Craft-Bamboo Racing’s spirited fightback ultimately fell just short. Engel raced with Daniel Juncadella and Kevin Tse; the team worked the #91 into contention after a smart strategy play.
It comes after the car didn’t run at all on Saturday after an engine change.
Triple Eight completed the podium with Shane van Gisbergen, Broc Feeney and Prince Jefri Ibrahim. Van Gisbergen added to his 2016 win and 2020 podium, the latter of which also came with Triple Eight. For Feeney and debutant Ibrahim, it was Bathurst 12 Hour podium No.1.
Audi’s seven-strong effort fell short despite remarkable day-long pace from Kelvin van der Linde. A two-minute penalty for exceeding mandatory driver time undid van der Linde and the #74 crew’s efforts.
The #74 Audi came home fourth, extending the marque’s wait for a record-setting fourth Bathurst 12 Hour win. Audi’s last Bathurst 12 Hour win came in 2018.
The race featured eight Safety Car deployments, although five came in the first four hours. Two Safety Cars were called for low-lying fog in the opening stanza, which was dominated by Audi.
From there, Audi’s challenge unravelled; the pole-winning #65 entry spearheaded by Chaz Mostert didn’t even finish.
Inclement weather reared its head on a number of occasions, catching out a number of drivers. Notably, the #19 Mercedes, #50 KTM, #45 Mercedes and #4 Porsche all found the wall as rain fell.
Just 11 cars were classified, undercutting the previous record of 18 in 2012. The lead trio completed 291 laps; Gounon’s winning margin was 8.7s.
The LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour will return on February 3-5 2023.