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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Bathurst Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s post-race notebook from Sunday’s IGTC season-opening Bathurst 12H…

Photo: Daniel Kalisz/Bentley

***Sunday’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour was not only the first Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli victory for Bentley but also the British manufacturer’s first major endurance race triumph since the 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours. Its previous biggest win with the Continental GT3 came at the Paul Ricard 1000k last year.

***Bentley becomes the sixth different registered manufacturer to win in IGTC competition since the championship’s launch in 2016, joining McLaren, Mercedes-AMG, Audi, Ferrari and Porsche.

***Head of Porsche Motorsport Fritz Enzinger, who was in attendance on Sunday, paid respect to Bentley’s historic win. “As the group representative for Volkswagen Motorsport, I’m of course delighted with Bentley’s win,” he said.

***The No. 999 GruppeM Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Raffaele Marciello was given a 30-second post-race time penalty after officials deemed the car to have had its engine running during the Italian’s unscheduled late-race stop for a punctured tire.

***However, both Marciello and team director Alex Zoechling insisted to Sportscar365 that the engine was shut off during the stop. It’s understood the ignition may have been turned on too soon prior to Marciello’s getaway from the pit lane.

***Marciello, who questioned officials during last year’s race over penalties handed to the team, told Sportscar365 he didn’t feel this penalty was justified either. “I think it was not fair but it is what it is,” he said. “I think everyone saw our speed. We were the best Mercedes and really close to the car who won. We did our jobs so I’m happy.”

***The penalty relegated the No. 999 Mercedes Evo of Marciello and co-drivers Maxi Buhk and Felipe Fraga to sixth in the final classification.

***The No. 46 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 was given a 4 minute and 30-minute post-race time penalty, which dropped Patrick Assenheimer, Sergej Afanasiev and Michele Beretta to a third place finish in the Silver class, promoting the No. 159 Garage 59 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 to second in class.

***A new distance record was achieved on Sunday, with 314 laps completed (1,212.35 miles/1,950.88 km) over the race that also saw the longest period of racing of 4 hours and 10 minutes completed without a safety car.

***Mercedes-AMG has taken the lead of the IGTC manufacturers’ championship, thanks to the No. 888 Triple Eight and No. 77 Team Craft Bamboo Black Falcon entries finishing third and fifth overall in the race, which translated to second and fourth place points finishes due to McLaren not being a registered manufacturer.

***Mercedes holds a five-point lead over Bentley and Porsche, which are tied for second with 25 points apiece. Aston Martin collected 14 points in its maiden IGTC appearance with only six points going to Audi, which had another race to forget at Bathurst.

***Garth Tander crashed the No. 22 Team Valvoline Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo in the third hour, while a rev sensor issue led to an early retirement for the No. 2 Audi shortly before the halfway mark. The third Melbourne Performance Centre-run factory-crewed Audi, meanwhile, lost more than five minutes after damage from two punctures.

***Kelvin van der Linde, however, set the race’s fastest lap, a 2:03.278, in the final hour in the No. 222 Audi, which finished 18th overall.

***Jake Dennis explained that the No. 76 R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT3’s broken splitter was the consequence of early race contact. The car was forced into the garage in the fourth hour to change the damaged splitter, which delayed the entry by more than five laps, with Dennis finishing up 16th overall.

“We’re not too sure,” Dennis told Sportscar365. “I think Rick [Kelly] might have taken some damage in the first few laps on a safety car restart; I think one of the Nissans cut him up and hit the right front and we believe that’s what caused the damage.”

***Renger van der Zande became a trackside tourist when his No. 30 JAS-run Honda NSX GT3 Evo ground to a halt on track in the seventh hour. Both driver and car were stranded until the next safety car came out to retrieve both.

***The Honda, in its Bathurst debut, impressed early in the hands of Dane Cameron until being forced to the garage in the second hour due to a loose wire harness, with further electrical issues leading to the car’s retirement later in the race.

***Lamborghini’s first official IGTC race also ended in retirement when the No. 63 Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo of Dennis Lind stopped on track with a fuel pump issue. The car had been running fifth at the time.

***Grove Racing, which claimed GT3 Pro-Am class honors in its endurance race debut with the Porsche 911 GT3 R, has become the most successful Porsche team ever in event history, with five class wins in the race.

***Only two drivers: Kenny Habul and Alexander West, were registered to score IGTC Pro-Am/Silver points at Bathurst, leaving Habul as the championship leader heading into the second round of the season at Spa. The U.S.-based Australian confirmed to Sportscar365 plans to contest the full season this year.

***EBM co-owner Earl Bamber told Sportscar365 that the team will field a GT3 Pro-Am class Porsche in three of the four remaining IGTC rounds for a yet-to-be-announced driver lineup. The car will feature in the Total 24 Hours of Spa, Suzuka 10 Hours and Kyalami 9 Hour, while there are “no more” plans to field a Pro class Porsche this year.

***Sam Shahin, who was one of many drivers to suffer weekend-ending accidents, was airlifted to his home in Adelaide on Saturday to undergo treatment to his back, according to a statement from Supercars.

***A 37-G hit for Tyler Everingham, meanwhile, sent the 19-year-old to Bathurst Base Hospital, where he was released on Saturday evening with a sprained ankle. The MARC Cars driver returned to the track on Sunday to support the team’s sister cars in the race.

***SRO Motorsports Group’s pledge to donate $5 AUD for every lap completed by IGTC entries raised $25,200 AUD for the Australian Lions Club Foundation National Bushfire Appeal. Bentley, meanwhile, raised additional funds by auctioning off damaged parts from it No. 8 car in the paddock during the race.

***Event officials reported a record three-day attendance of 43,111 spectators, an increase of nearly 2,000 from last year despite record-breaking temperatures for the majority of the weekend.

Slade Perrins contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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