Sunday, 26 February 2012

12 H. Bathurst: Phoenix Racing-Audi wins Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour

Phoenix Racing-Audi wins Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour

BATHURST (February 26th, 2012) – The number 1-Phoenix Racing-Audi has won the Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour. In the Australian endurance race at the scenic and challenging Mount Panorama circuit, its drivers Christopher Mies, Darryl O’Young and Christer Joens completed a total of 270 laps, most of them in very difficult conditions, notching up the second straight win for Audi in the Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour. The 6.213 kilometres long sweeping, fast and undulating track already being challenging enough in itself, heavy rain for the better part of the race did more than its best to spice up the action even more. The number 20-Erebus Racing-Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG (Tim Slade, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Peter Hackett, Bret Curtis) ended up second, only 1.13.2838 minutes down on the winners, followed by the number 33-Clearwater Racing-Ferrari 458 Italia (Weng Mok, Craig Baird, Matt Griffin) in third place, two laps down.

After practice and qualifying in bright sunshine, weather conditions dramatically changed for race day. As scheduled, the race got underway at 6.15 am under heavy clouds, but still in the dry. The first drizzle then set in after two hours and soon turned into a genuine downpour. Pretty soon, conditions had their effects on the field too as the first drivers spun off the track, some of them damaging their cars beyond repair. Among them were, in numerical order, the number 21-Black Falcon-Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG (Rob Wilson, Sean-Paul Breslin, Vimal Mehta, Sean-Patrick Breslin)number 22-United Autosport-Audi R8 LMS (Mark Patterson, Alain Li, Frank Yu) and the number 23-JBS-Lamborghini LP600 (Roger Lago, David Russell, Wayne Park).

One of the early front-runners, the number 17-Il Bello Rosso-Ferrari (Allan Simonsen, Dominik Farnbacher, John Bowe, Peter Edwards) had problems of a different kind, firstly running out of fuel and then, after a spirited drive during which Simonsen set a new outright race lap record at Mount Panorama in 2.06.3311 minutes, eventually retired due to electrical trouble. Just an hour past the halfway-mark, the event was also over for the number 2-Phoenix Racing-Audi R8 LMS (Craig Lowndes, Warren Luff, Mark Eddy) as well following an impact into the barriers.

Until that point, the battle for the lead had largely been a three-way affair between the number 1 and 2-Audis and the number 20-Mercedes-Benz, the three at times only half a second apart, making for some highly spectacular racing. The Audi’s retirement promoted the number 33-Clearwater Racing-Ferrari up into the top three where it remained for the balance of the race.

Victory in class B for GT3 Cup cars went to the number 3-Hunter Sports Group-Porsche 997 GT3 Cup (Nathan Tinkler, Steven Johnson, Steven Richards) from the number 65-Southern Cross Lubes-Porsche 997 GT3 Cup (Scott O’Connell, Brett Niall, Simon McLennon), both teams putting in a fine performance to finish fourth and fifth overall respectively. Class C GT4 honours were taken by the number 54-Donut King-Nissan R35 GTR (Anthony Alford, Peter Leemhuis, Adam Beechey) who led their class for most of the race to win from the number Exige that ex-Formula 1-driver Christian Klien shared with team owner/driver Robert Thomson and lady racer Sarah Harley. The number 53-Boss Plaster-Holden HSV GTS (Rick Newman, Dean Lillie, James Atkinson) more than made up for its misfortune in qualifying by winning class D (Production-high performance) with a huge margin. The number 50-Racer Industries-Holden HSV VX-R (Scott Pye, Elliot Barbour, Chris Pither, Ryan McLeod) came out on top in class E (Production-performance), while the Dutch-Australian line-up of Ivo Breukers, Henk Thijssen and Martin Bailey were victorious in the Invitational class with their Camel Racing-SEAT Leon TDI, carrying starting number 14.

Dutch agency CREVENTIC, specialised in promoting endurance races and, among others, initiator, organiser and promoter of the Dunlop 24H DUBAI, first-ever endurance race in the Gulf region, had teamed up with the organisation of the Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour and served as co-promoter for the first time. It helped attract more foreign teams to this year’s Australian endurance race. “We have seen a very spectacular race in which the battle for overall victory went down to the wire”, says CREVENTIC’s Gerrie Willems. “For us, it was a pleasure to have been involved in the promotion of this event, which certainly deserves to become even better-known throughout the world. Its tie-in with our 24H SERIES can add to that.” The next 24H SERIES event is the 24H BARCELONA, September 7th till 9th.
Gerrie Willems/Creventic.

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