Connect with us

Intercontinental GT Challenge

Bathurst Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Friday notebook from the IGTC paddock at Mount Panorama Circuit…

Photo: Mark Horsburgh

***Melbourne Performance Centre is bringing a new Audi to replace the No. 47 car that was damaged in an accident at Reid Park during Friday afternoon practice. Team principal Troy Russell told Sportscar365 that the crashed chassis is repairable but not for this weekend. He said the replacement car, which is being transported to Bathurst from Melbourne overnight, needs to be converted from Evo to Evo II specification.

***Video footage of the accident emerged on Friday evening. Click Here to see how his Supabarn Audi struck the right-side wall. Driver Theo Koundouris was uninjured.

***The cause of the KTM X-Bow GT2’s stoppage that brought out a red flag during Practice 2 was light contact with another car. There was some damage to the left-rear wheel rim of the KTM and the driver Dale Wood elected to park up at the side of the track as a precaution.

***All GT3 cars are using the Pirelli P Zero DHE slick tire at Bathurst. Pirelli has rolled out the new DHF tire in Europe and America, but its Australian introduction is pending. DHEs are also on the Invitational cars except for the KTM which has the older DHD2 product.

***A new safety car wave-by rule has been introduced for this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour, to keep more cars on the lead lap. From the start of the third hour, cars that are one or more laps behind the leader will be allowed to pass the safety car line and the safety car.

***The new measure is intended to keep the situation close at the head of the field through to the final stages. “If there are lots of safety cars, there are going to be lots of people on the lead lap at the end of the race,” Grove Racing’s Ben Barker told Sportscar365. “And then the Pros are racing each other.”

***Mercedes-AMG driver Maro Engel described the new safety car rule as the “biggest change” to the event regulations. “You can expect that pretty much everyone at the end of the race will be on the lead lap, so there are more cars in contention for the win,” he said.

***All cars in Sunday’s race will be subject to a minimum of nine compulsory pit stops (‘CPS’ in the regulations). The minimum pit stop time for a CPS is two minutes, measured from pit entry to pit exit. A CPS cannot be served until after starting lap five.

***A notable addition to the drive time regulations is the requirement for 1 hour and 20 minutes of each Bronze driver’s three-hour minimum to be undertaken in the second half of the race. Platinum, Gold and Silver drivers are capped at five hours and 40 minutes.

***The Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car featuring two-time Bathurst 12H winner and seven-time Supercars champion Craig Lowndes is part of a campaign raising awareness for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. The PCFA is the official charity of this weeklend’s event. Scott Taylor Motorsport is receiving support from Ashley Seward Motorsport to run the No. 222 Porsche.

***The No. 19 Griffith Mercedes-AMG suffered a gearbox oil leak during morning practice, resulting in a gearbox change. Mark Griffith’s team has been gradually adding decals to its car, which only recently returned from a routine service at AMG’s headquarters in Germany.

***Audi is the most successful manufacturer in the Bathurst 12 Hour’s GT3 era, which is now set for its 11th edition. The German marque has won three times courtesy of Joest Racing (2011), Phoenix Racing (2012) and Team WRT (2018). Mercedes-AMG is aiming to win its second Bathurst after Erebus Motorsport’s triumph back in 2013.

***Seven different GT3 manufacturers have won at Bathurst to date, making it one of the most diverse honor rolls for a major race in the global category.

***Akkodis ASP Team and GetSpeed Performance could be joined by another Mercedes-AMG factory-backed entry at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, according to the manufacturer’s Customer Racing boss Stefan Wendl. “I see a third AMG Pro entry coming to Spa,” he told Sportscar365. “Last year we only had two.” Wendl gave no clues on the origin of the potential third team, stating that contracts are not yet signed.

***Triple Eight Race Engineering became Mercedes-AMG’s parts service provider for Australian customers earlier this year. “HWA is exclusively handling our technical belongings on the car,” said Wendl. “We have Top Speed in Asia, Multimatic in the U.S. and Triple Eight here as parts servicing. We’ve got one local engineer: Andrew Barrett, a former DTM mechanic. On top, we flew in two engineers from Europe specifically for this event, for the number of cars.”

***Wendl noted that three new Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos and four new GT4s have entered the Australian market since the start of the year. “Now it is about getting more racing happening,” he said. “I’m really happy and confident that this [Triple Eight partnership] is the right decision for the future.”

***Audi Sport has also flown in a small number of engineers from Germany to assist with Melbourne Performance Centre’s fleet of entries. They are the same engineers who previously assisted with the team’s Pro entries in past Bathurst 12 Hour editions.

***Melbourne Performance Centre is considering a European venture next year, according to team boss Russell. “We would actually love to do some overseas stuff,” he said. “We’ve done a little bit in New Zealand, which is only just overseas, and in Asia doing the Sepang 12 Hour a few times. There is a little talk about doing something next year, a little further away – the Road to Le Mans. We’re definitely keen to travel afar.”

***Russell noted that the Road to Le Mans idea stems from interested amateur drivers in Australia who want to take part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans support race for LMP3 and GT3 cars. “We’ve had two years of doing nothing, so it’s good to be back racing,” he said. “We’ll get through the rest of this year and see where we go from there.”

***As was the case in 2020, Invitational class cars have a benchmark lap time that they are not allowed to exceed. Since two years ago this has been raised by one second to 2:06. A car that exceeds the benchmark is immediately black-flagged from the session.

***The Bathurst 12 Hour qualifying procedure has been tweaked to reflect this year’s Pro-Am format. Two 25-minute qualifying sessions will be held on Friday, the first for Bronze drivers and the second for all drivers. Each car’s best times will be added together, determining the Top Shootout contenders. An aggregate-based qualifying system was last used in 2012.

***Two practice sessions and qualifying headline Saturday’s timetable at Mount Panorama. Practice 5 is due to start at 8:05 a.m. (7:05 p.m. Thursday ET) followed by Practice 6 at 10 a.m. (8 p.m. Thursday ET). Qualifying takes a one-hour slot on the schedule starting at 1:20 p.m. (11:20 p.m. Thursday ET). The Top 10 Shootout is set for 4:10 p.m. (2:10 a.m. ET).

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

Click to comment

More in Intercontinental GT Challenge