Former Grand Prix racer Bernd Schneider has claimed victory in Australia’s highest-profile long-distance race, teaming up with fellow Germans Alexander Roloff and Thomas Jaeger to win the Bathurst 12 Hours on Sunday.
It is a result that bodes extremely well for the Erebus Motorsport squad, which is embarking on its maiden V8 Supercars campaign with a trio of AMGs in the upcoming season.
Piloting a SLS AMG 63 GT3, the German trio finished a lap ahead of their nearest rivals, the Clearwater Ferrari F458 GT3 trio of Craig Baird, Mok Weng Sun and Matt Griffin, while third place was claimed by the Porsche 911 GT3-R piloted by V8 Supercars racer Shane van Gisbergen, Klark Quinn and Matt Kingsley.
Erebus actually stood well-poised to claim a 1-2 in the gruelling race around the Mount Panorama circuit, but the sister car driven by Erebus V8 team-mates Tim Slade and Lee Holdsworth, who co-drove with Peter Hackett.
That was one of many crashes in a race punctuated by no less than fifteen safety car interruptions as many faster cars came unstuck trying to navigate the slower traffic of the lower-category cars.
Former F1 racer Mika Salo was one such driver to come unstuck. He was innocently caught out in an early accident just twenty minutes into the race, and then later suffered a front suspension failure – possibly as a result of the earlier incident – which put them 17 laps down while repairs were carried out.
The result is the second high-profile success for Schneider – a five-time DTM champion and one of Mercedes’ greatest drivers – who won on his Australian GT debut in a one-off appearance during last year’s Sydney Telstra 500.
Sadly, Schneider’s two-and-a-bit seasons in F1 in the 1980s were in stark contrast to the successes he has enjoyed in tin-tops and endurance racing. Schneider raced for two years with the hapless Zakspeed team in 1988-9, qualifying on just nine occasions.