Earl Bamber Motorsport’s line-up of Matt Campbell, Dirk Werner and Dennis Olsen has won the 2019 Bathurst 12 Hour after a sprint to the flag in the final 20 minutes saw the #912 Porsche take the lead.
After starting from sixth on the grid, the #912 had a quiet day, never really featuring at the front until other cars in Class A started to suffer problems. The Porsche’s superior fuel economy helped bring the team up the order as the race began to tick down into the last hour, promising a grandstand finish.
With Campbell behind the wheel, he was the only driver to take on new tyres going into the final stint as Jake Dennis in the #62 Aston Martin led from Raffaele Marciello in the #999 Mercedes-AMG GT3 as Chaz Mostert in third tried to keep the #912 Porsche behind his BMW M6.
Just after Campbell made the pass for third, a safety car was deployed to recover a striken KTM on Conrod Straight. This led to a mad, 20 minute dash to the finish as the two leading cars tried to hold off Campbell while Shane van Gisbergen in the #888 Merc made use of his new tyres from seventh to climb up the order.
Despite Marciello fighting hard and defending cleanly, Campbell was able to get by at Hell Corner, setting his sights on the Aston Martin which was now some two seconds up the road but on older tyres.
With only a handful of laps left, Campbell saw a gap down the inside at Forrest Elbow and squeezed the Porsche past the Aston Martin, taking the lead and then building a comfortable buffer until the finish.
Campbell took the flag to win his first Bathurst 12 Hour in six attempts, also giving Porsche their first win in the endurance race, while Dennis came home second, a big improvement on his 12th placed starting position after starting from 12th.
Dennis had taken pole in the top ten shootout but was handed a two place grid penalty for speeding in the pit lane during qualifying, followed by being excluded from the shootout for a technical breach on the R-Motorsport prepared entry.
Marciello was able to only just defend third place from van Gisbergen who tried for five laps to get past the GruppeM car which sat on pole, pulling up just after the race’s finish due to a cramp.
The Triple Eight prepared Mercedes-AMG had been suffering brake dramas all day, exhausting its drivers in each of their stints. A lack of pace over the weekend meant some comfort could be taken in the fourth place finish.
Mostert was able to drive the #42 Team Schnitzer BMW home to fifth while Andy Soucek brought the #108 Bentley Continental GT to the flag in six. It could have been a contender at the end had Soucek not accidentally hit the ignition switch when leaving the pit lane instead of the speed limiter, the second time he made the mistake in the day which undoubtedly cost the team a shot at victory.
There was a surprising number of issues for those driving the Mercedes-AMG GT3 with three cars retiring due to overheating, all due to stones puncturing the radiators. This included the #777 of David Reynolds, Luke Youlden and Yasser Shahin as well as the #77 of Maro Engel, Gary Paffett and Luca Stolz and the #75 driven by Kenny Habul, Dominik Baumann and Thomas Jaeger which was leading the Pro-Am class at the time.
Campbell’s victory makes him the sixth Australian to win in the GT3 era of the 12 Hour as well as handing Earl Bamber Motorsport their first GT3 win in the last race for the current-spec Porsche 911 GT3.