Customer Racing: Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour: Mercedes-AMG takes third and fourth place in IGTC season-opening Bathurst 12 Hour

03.
February 2019
Bathurst

Mercedes-AMG Motorsport is leading in the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli standings: with third place for the Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing with drivers Maximilian Buhk, Maximilian Götz (both GER) and Raffaele Marciello (ITA) as well as fourth place for the Mercedes-AMG Team Vodafone with Craig Lowndes (AUS), Shane van Gisbergen (NZL) and Jamie Whincup (AUS) in the Bathurst 12-hour race (1-3 February), Mercedes-AMG is in the lead of the IGTC manufacturers’ standings. With 13th place overall (5th place Pro-Am) for drivers Yelmer Buurman (NED), Mark Griffith (AUS) and Christina Nielsen (DEN), Griffith Corp. Team Nineteen, BLACK FALCON rounded out the successful weekend at the legendary Mount Panorama Circuit.

  • Third place for #999 Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing
  • Fourth place for #888 Mercedes-AMG Team Vodafone
  • Points’ lead for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport in Intercontinental GT Challenge

Bathurst – The six Mercedes-AMG GT3s showed a strong performance in the 17th running of the Bathurst 12-hour race. The cars from Affalterbach already topped the time sheets in the practice sessions. Four teams qualified for the top 10 shootout in which Raffaele Marciello came out on top with his starting number 999 (Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing) entry and claimed the coveted Allan Simonsen Pole Position Trophy as a result. With second (#77, Mercedes-AMG Team Craft Bamboo BLACK FALCON), fourth (#777, The Bend Motorsport Park) and seventh place (#19, Griffith Corp. Team Nineteen, BLACK FALCON), the other Mercedes-AMG GT3s also secured themselves excellent grid positions for the race start in the early hours of Sunday morning (5.45 hrs local time).

At the track that was still fully covered in darkness, starting drivers Maximilian Buhk (#999) and Luca Stolz (#77) put in an extraordinarily good start. Within a few laps, they managed to pull clear from the field. After around an hour, their advantage on the third-placed car was eight seconds and on the fourth-placed team almost 30 seconds. Yelmer Buurman (#19) and Luke Youlden (#777) also held promising top ten positions. With the first pit stops, Stolz took the lead from Buhk and remained in control at the restarts following the first safety car interventions.

An action-packed middle part of the race mixed up the field: SunEnergy1 Racing #75 and the Mercedes-AMG Team Craft Bamboo BLACK FALCON #77 had to park their cars due to failures. The car with starting number 999 incurred a pair of drive-through penalties while in contention for the overall win, but remained within striking distance of the podium positions. After early pit stops, the #888 Mercedes-AMG Team Vofafone managed to work its way back up into the top five as the race went on. Until the end of the 12-hour race, seven cars managed to stay on the lead lap, setting the stage for an extremely thrilling final stint.

During the final pit stop, the Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing decided to let the #999 rejoin the race without fresh tyres in order to save time. That worked out and final driver Marciello returned into the field in second place. At the end of a safety car intervention with 20 minutes remaining in the race, Marciello had to do his utmost with degrading tyres to keep the opposition at bay. With a strong performance, he managed to bring third place home after 312 laps. With fresh tyres, on the other hand, the car with starting number 888 and final driver Shane van Gisbergen was able to fully attack once more and worked its way back up to fourth place with an impressive final sprint. Yelmer Buurman brought the #19 Mercedes-AMG GT3 home in a creditable 13th place overall (5th place Pro-Am), the team having lost time due to a collision with an opponent.

As a result, Mercedes-AMG is starting the new IGTC season in the lead of the points’ standings. The next Intercontinental GT Challenge round is scheduled in North America with the Laguna Seca Raceway California 8 Hour (28-30 March), followed by the Total 24 Hours of Spa (25-28 July), the Suzuka 10 Hours (23-25 August) and the season finale, the Kyalami 9 Hour (21-23 November).

Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “Our anticipation was huge and we weren’t disappointed. Thrilling duels for positions and seven cars on the lead lap after 12 hours shows how extremely close competition in the field of the Intercontinental GT Challenge is. Our teams have shown a super performance, even though the extreme conditions here in Australia took their toll and some cars retired. With third, fourth and 13th place, our Mercedes-AMG GT3 have scored a great result. With this good result and valuable points in the IGTC manufacturers’ standings, we are heading to the second round at Laguna Seca Raceway at the end of March.”

Raffaele Marciello, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing #999: “It was a very tough race. We incurred two penalties that made us drop back. My final double stint really was very hard and demanding. I had used tyres and had to defend. Starting off the IGTC season with a podium finish is nice.”

Maximilian Buhk, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing #999: “In the opening stages, I pushed really hard and together with Luca in the second Mercedes-AMG GT3, I was able to build up a nice lead straight away. The two penalties were annoying, but we have to accept them. Today, we have seen once more that you should never give up, in spite of setbacks. We worked our way back up. Particular thanks to the team and my teammates and especially to Raffaele, who managed to withstand the pressure with degrading tyres. That was a really strong performance.”

Maximilian Götz, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing #999: “We really are super happy to be on the podium with Mercedes-AMG, particularly after this thrilling final stint. With third and fourth place, we have secured a good team result for the brand. Like this, we got the IGTC season off to a good start and we want to keep that that up Laguna Seca.”

Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG Team Craft Bamboo BLACK FALCON #77: “Of course, this is not the result that we had hoped for. We are disappointed, but this race here at Bathurst isn’t easy and in such extreme conditions, a retirement or a technical failure can happen quickly. Nevertheless huge thanks to Luca and Gary, Mercedes-AMG for the perfect car and to Craft Bamboo and BLACK FALCON for their great effort. Having two so experienced teams working together for this legendary race is something special. Once again, racing the Mercedes-AMG GT3 at Mount Panorama and taking part in the top 10 shootout again was great fun.”

Jamie Whincup, Mercedes-AMG Team Vodafone #888: “In the race, we were having issues with the brakes and the cooling in the car, it was unbelievably hot. But nevertheless, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 ran well and the longer the race lasted, the more it came our way. Getting fresh tyres for the final stint was a good move, it brought us within striking distance of the podium. The entire team, Craig and Shane in the final stint, have done an unbelievable job. I am really happy with fourth place.”

Yelmer Buurman, Griffith Corp. Team Nineteen, BLACK FALCON #19: “For me, it was a fantastic experience. Racing here once had been on my list for a long time. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 ran superbly. Unfortunately, we were a bit unlucky at the end. Another car hit the rear of our car and we lost a lot of time as a result. Otherwise, we would have had a good chance of scoring a class podium finish.”

Kenny Habul, SunEnergy1 Racing #75: “It was my second 12-hour race at Bathurst with Mercedes-AMG and again, it was a very exciting race. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to finish the race as a stone had damaged the radiator. The engine overheated as a result and we had to park the car. However, I am very proud of the team and my teammates Thomas and Dominik. We had a good pace in the Pro-Am class, we were soon in third place in class and had a good chance of finishing on the podium.”

Result Bathurst 12 Hour*:

Pos.

Nr.

Class

Car

Team

Drivers

1.

 

912

Pro

Porsche 911 GT3 R

EBM

M. Campbell, D. Olsen, D. Werner

2.

62

Pro

Aston Martin Vantage GT3

R-Motorsport

J. Dennis, M. Kirchhöfer, M. Vaxiviere

3.

999

Pro

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing

Maximilian Buhk (GER), Maximilian Götz (GER), Raffaele Marciello (ITA)

4.

888

Pro

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Mercedes-AMG Team Vodafone

Shane van Gisbergen (NZL), Craig Lowndes (AUS), Jamie Whincup (AUS)

 

 

 

 

13.

19

Pro-Am

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Griffith Corp. Team Nineteen, BLACK FALCON

Yelmer Buurman (NED), Mark Griffith (AUS), Christina Nielsen (DEN)

DNF

75

Pro-Am

Mercedes-AMG GT3

SunEnergy1 Racing

Dominik Baumann (AUT), Kenny Habul (AUS), Thomas Jäger (GER)

DNF

77

Pro

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Mercedes-AMG Team Craft Bamboo BLACK FALCON

Maro Engel (GER), Gary Paffett (GBR), Luca Stolz (GER)

DNF

777

Pro-Am

Mercedes-AMG GT3

The Bend Motorsport Park

David Reynolds (AUS), Yasser Shahin (AUS), Luke Youlden (AUS)

* excerpt subject to confirmation by the organisers

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  • 19C0101_01
    Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing #999
  • 19C0101_02
    Mercedes-AMG Team Vodafone #888
  • 19C0101_03
    #777 Mercedes-AMG GT3 by The Bend Motorsport Park
  • 19C0101_04
    Mercedes-AMG Team Craft Bamboo BLACK FALCON #77
  • 19C0101_05
    SunEnergy1 Racing #75
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    Finish line Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing #999
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    #999: M. Goetz (from left), R. Marciello and M. Buhk
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    3rd place for M. Buhk, M. Goetz and R. Marciello
  • 19C0101_09
    #77 and #999 Mercedes-AMG GT3
  • 19C0101_10
    Starting grid Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing #999
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    Starting grid with the #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3
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    Start of the Bathurst 12 Hour
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    Mercedes-AMG Team Craft Bamboo BLACK FALCON #77
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    #999 and #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3 at Mount Panorama Circuit
  • 19C0101_15
    Mercedes-AMG Team Vodafone #888
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    Cockpit of the #999 Mercedes-AMG GT3
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    Pit stop Mercedes-AMG Team Vodafone #888
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    Pit stop Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing #999
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    Griffith Corp. Team Nineteen, BLACK FALCON #19
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    Yelmer Buurman and Mark Griffith
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    #77 with Maro Engel (from left), Gary Paffett, Luca Stolz
  • 19C0101_22
    SunEnergy1 Racing #75
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