Tom Blomqvist has hailed a “miracle” podium for the No. 60 59Racing McLaren 720S GT3 crew after overcoming adversity in Sunday’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
Blomqvist steered the car he shares with Ben Barnicoat and Alvaro Parente to second in the final classification of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season opener following a rollercoaster race.
The Brit was in a ferocious fight to the checkered flag following the car’s fightback from a raft of setbacks.
While struggling with a clutch issue for the duration of the race, the McLaren overcame two penalties as well as significant drop off when double-stinting tires and a reported brake problem in Blomqvist’s final stint.
“To even be on the podium is quite a miracle. We honestly just didn’t expect this result,” Blomqvist told Sportscar365.
“We just kept getting better and better and better. My teammates were on it; they know the car really well. For my first time doing Bathurst, it was a new experience and I couldn’t have expected this result.”
Blomqvist had his hands full in the last hour with the car’s issues and a pair of charging Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos.
Maro Engel in the No. 77 Team Craft-Bamboo Black Falcon Mercedes Evo and Raffaele Marciello in the No. 999 GruppeM entry both passed the McLaren but a puncture for Engel and a post-race penalty for Marciello saw them surrender second back to the Australians squad.
“It was such a difficult race,” Blomqvist said. “We had quite a few issues that we had to overcome, one of them being the clutch.
“When we came to the stop we couldn’t get it engaged because it was so hot. One time we had to switch the car on and off and the pit lane speed limiter wasn’t on and I got the penalty for speeding.
“And then Alvaro with the drive-through, and then we had to bleed the clutch. I think we spent two minutes more in the pits than the guys who won.
“The pace of the car was really good but that end stint was just mental. The only way we could keep ourselves in it was to stay on our old set of tires [for the last hour].
“Maro managed to get me straight away which was a bugger, but he had so much pace, we didn’t have that much pace on the old tires like them.
“Then we started to pick up this big vibration and obviously with the other guys blowing out tires the team was super nervous.
“We kept going for a bit and it was so bad we had to just back off the pace just to survive and make the finish line.”
Barnicoat Timed Impressive Early Race Pass Perfectly
Barnicoat had a memorable opening stint in the dark after dropping back from the front row to third before fighting back and putting a daring pass on the GruppeM Mercedes Evo of Maxi Buhk to take the lead.
“Instantly I felt the car was good,” he told Sportscar365. “I got [second] back on the second lap I believe and caught Maxi up.
“I was coming down the straight. He was defending a bit and I just timed it perfectly. I could never have done it better if I tried again and got in the lead.
“It was amazing. [I] got a bit of a gap and then we had a couple of troubles throughout the day and we kept falling back down and catching back up. It was just an amazing effort by everyone.”