Jake Dennis says R-Motorsport gave the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 a “send-off in style” with its second-place finish in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
Dennis helped steer the No. 62 Aston Martin to a podium in its final endurance race before the British manufacturer fully introduces a replacement V8 model later this year.
The 23-year-old Englishman shared driving duties with fellow Bathurst debutants Matthieu Vaxiviere and Marvin Kirchhoefer, while the Jota Sport/Arden-run R-Motorsport squad was also competing in the top class of the Australian enduro for the first time.
Dennis was poised to record a historic victory for the outgoing chassis when he was overtaken by Matt Campbell in the winning EBM Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R with nine minutes to go.
This came after the R-Motorsport driver had a seven-plus second lead eradicated by a safety car in the final hour of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season-opener.
“It’s a really nice feeling to send the car off in such a style,” Dennis told Sportscar365.
“We were nursing the old girl home. We had to really look after her and do some adjustments in the cockpit which ended up costing us lap time, but it was the only way to get the old girl to the finish line.
“By the end the brakes were just about finished, it was a shame to lose the lead to a move, but after that, all I could do was stay close and hope for another opportunity.
“She got there in the end, but we just lost out.”
Dennis suggested that the late-race safety car “ruined” the team’s hopes of a victory because it brought Campbell, whose EBM Porsche had fresher tires, into a position where he could catch and pass the Aston.
“I knew that if I got the pit stops out of the way I’d be pretty clean and home sailing,” said Dennis.
“I managed to do that and I pulled a 10-second gap on [Raffaele] Marciello [in the GruppeM Mercedes-AMG] so everything was looking good until the safety car. It ruined our race, fundamentally.
“We knew there were cars behind which were quicker. The Bentleys and the Porsche were the quicker cars, but we were there when it mattered.
“And then when the safety car came together and it bunched us all up, it really hindered us, but nevertheless it was an incredible last two hours.
“For the Aston Martin to be leading 60 percent of the race was something special.”
Dennis added that his Bathurst debut was an “amazing” experience and that R-Motorsport’s preparations set the No. 62 crew up for a victory bid despite competing against lineups with more Mount Panorama experience.
It came in a weekend that saw the former open-wheel rising star set the fastest lap in the Pirelli Top 10 Shootout, although later lose the Allan Simonsen Pole Trophy due to a technical infraction.
“It’s a mark of just how well that went that a crew of Bathurst rookies is actually feeling disappointed with second place,” Dennis said.
“We did a lot of preparation. We had a lot of good guys in our team – we had quite a few Aussies in our team who have done Bathurst [12 Hour and 1000] before.
“There were a lot of intelligent people who knew exactly what to do with the strategy so hats off to them. They pretty much nailed that.
“We pushed hard all day and kept the car in the hunt. The team effort was huge, we always knew there were teams with experienced drivers here, and newer cars that would bring a big challenge.
“We just had to drive fast and clean, and that’s what we did.”
John Dagys contributed to this report.