Audi Sport Team WRT has claimed victory in Sunday’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, which ended early under a red flag following a heavy three-car accident in the final 20 minutes of the drama-filled event.
A fuel mileage race for the top five cars had set up a dramatic closing half-hour, led by the No. 37 Audi R8 LMS of Robin Frijns, who along with Jamie Whincup in the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 were ahead of a quartet of Porsche 911 GT3 R entries.
However, a massive pileup involving the No. 69 Audi of Ash Walsh, No. 19 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of John Martin and Bryce Fullwood’s Marc V8 Focus ultimately brought the race to a halt with 12 minutes remaining.
All three drivers climbed from the cars under their own power, although the race did not restart as a result of extensive debris scattered across the track.
Frijns shared the overall win with Stuart Leonard and Dries Vanthoor, with WRT becoming the first Belgian team to claim overall honors in the event.
It marked Audi’s third Bathurst victory and first since 2012.
Whincup and co-drivers Kenny Habul, Tristan Vautier and Raffaele Marciello were classified second, ahead of the Pro-Am class-winning No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche of Marc Lieb, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Tim Pappas and Luca Stolz in third overall.
The No. 12 Competition Motorsports Porsche, which was on a late charge in the hands of Matt Campbell, was forced to settle for fourth overall and second in Pro-Am.
The U.S.-based team pitted its Porsche two laps later than the competition, while under the race’s second-to-last yellow with 1 hour and 25 minutes to go, and was good to go on fuel had the race run to the full duration.
Earl Bamber brought the No. 991 Craft-Bamboo Porsche home in fifth, ahead of the No. 911 Manthey Racing Porsche in sixth, which had led with Fred Makowiecki in the final hour.
The top seven cars all finished on the lead lap.
The pole-sitting No. 43 Team Schnitzer BMW, which dominated early, retired in the 10th hour after Chaz Mostert triggered a four-car accident that also took the No. 17 Bentley Continental GT3 of Steven Kane, which had also led at one point.
Both of the Jamec Pem Racing Audis, which held control in the middle stages, also hit trouble.
A rare mistake by Kelvin van der Linde resulted in left-rear damage to the No. 22 car with four hours to go, while the No. 74 car of Markus Winkelhock ground to a halt on track with a race-ending left-rear driveshaft failure with 1 hour and 30 minutes to go.
Class B honors went to the No. 4 Grove Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car of Ben Barker, Stephen and Brenton Grove, despite an incident-filled race, while the No. 30 Boat Works BMW M4 GT4 picked up the victory in Class C.
MARC Cars Australia, meanwhile, swept the podium in the Invitational class, led by the No. 91 Marc II V8 Mustang, in its competition debut.
RESULTS: Bathurst 12H