A thrilling final stint from Matt Campbell helped seal the 2019 Bathurst 12 Hour victory for the #912 EBM Porsche crew in a thrilling finale.
Campbell, Dirk Werner and Dennis Olsen took a sensational first win at Bathurst for Porsche after a seven-car shootout to the flag in the final 30 minutes, with Campbell’s bold move down the inside of Aston Martin driver Jake Dennis at Forrests Elbow key to the win.
But the #912 Porsche team is under investigation due a bump-and-run move on Chaz Mostert inside the last hour that forced the BMW driver onto the grass.
It means that, as it stands, the #912 is the winner ahead of the #62 R-Motorsport Aston Martin (Dennis/Matthieu Vaxiviere/Marvin Kirchhoefer) and the #999 GruppeM Mercedes (Raffaele Marciello/Max Buhk/Max Goetz).
Into the final quarter of the race there were just seven cars on the lead lap with Campbell leading the way in the #912 entry on an out-of-sync strategy as EBM tried to get the car home on one stop less than its rivals.
The likes of the #62 Aston Martin and the #108 Bentley spent time at the front as the penultimate pitstops shook out, but once again it was the #912 Porsche that ended up in the lead with Dennis Olsen at the wheel, as everyone else had a single stop remaining.
At that point the Porsche’s fuel economy became crucial and required fuel saving, bringing the chasing pack into play as the penultimate stint wore on.
With 75 minutes to go EBM pulled the trigger, bringing Olsen in and putting Campbell back in the car.
The net result was a 90-second gap to new leader Dennis in the Aston Martin, although it was unlikely to be enough for the R-Motorsport teams to hold onto the lead ahead of the Porsche with the final pitstops still taking place.
Dennis had set himself up to lead into the final phase of the race when he pitted his Aston with an hour to go and emerged with the effective lead still in tact.
The Porsche’s route to victory in the final hour had a crucial, but controversial, moment when Campbell gave Mostert a bump-and-run at The Chase to take third.
Moments later the safety car was called to recover a stranded KTM midway down Conrod Straight and it set up a grandstand finish.
It came down to a 22-minute sprint home, the top six running line astern as the #888 sacrificed track position by taking on a fresh set of rubber.
Dennis sprinted when the race went green, leaving Marciello and Campbell scrapping over second.
The Mercedes was at a serious tyre disadvantage after GruppeM opted not to take on tyres at its last stop in order to retain track position.
The bottle-neck created by the AMG was ideal for Dennis, who had 2.5s up his sleeve after a single green lap.
At the start of the second green lap Campbell barged his way into second at Hell Corner, giving him a shot at victory with 15 minutes to go.
Within a lap the gap was a matter of tenths between the top two as Campbell tucked under the Aston’s wing before executing a perfect move at Forrests Elbow to set up a winning charge to the flag.
Dennis came home second while Marciello and van Gisbergen staged an amazing battle for third over the closing laps – the #888 car with the significant tyre advantage – but it was decided in the Italian’s favour by 0.2s.
Mostert finished fifth, Soucek sixth, and Imperatori last of the cars on the lead lap after being penalised for weaving behind the safety car on the final restart.
Winner of the Pro-Am class was the #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda, while the Grove Racing Porsche of Ben Barker and Brenton and Stephen Grove rounded out a comprehensive Class B win.
Class C went to the #48 M Motorsport KTM driven by Justin McMillan, Glen Wood and Dean Lillie, with the Invitational class conquered by Adam Hargreaves, Daniel Jilesen and Steve Owen in the #20 MARC V8.