Audi Win Bathurst 12 Hours after Huge Crash Curtails Race Early

by Paul Hensby

The #37 Audi Sport Team WRT trio of Robin Frijns, Stuart Leonard and Dries Vanthoor took victory in the Bathurst 12 Hours, in a race that ended under a red flag due to a huge crash between Ash Walsh and John Martin.

With twenty minutes remaining, Walsh clashed with a back-marker and the #69 Supabarn Audi driver was left stranded across the track on the run to McPhillamy, only for an unsighted Martin to hit him at full-speed in his #19 Daimler Trucks Brisbane Mercedes. Walsh was then taken to hospital with suspected broken ribs and a puncture lung.

It initially brought out the caution flags for a sixteenth time, before racing ceased with a red flag with just eleven minutes remaining on the clock to allow the #37 Audi to take the spoils.

Had the race gone to its natural conclusion, the race-leading Audi was likely to need an additional pit stop for fuel, but ultimately they found themselves in the right place at the right time, and it left them ahead of the #75 Mercedes-AMG Team SunEnergy1 crew of Kenny Habul, Jamie Whincup, Tristan Vautier and Raffaele Marciello. It was Audi’s third Bathurst 12 Hour victory, but their first since 2012.

It looked as though the battle for the victory would be between the #75 Mercedes and the #991 EuroMechanics Porsche of Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre and Earl Bamber, but the late caution and subsequent red flag denied either the chance of the win, and the #991 Porsche was even unable to claim a podium finish, ultimately finishing fifth after a penalty handed down after Vanthoor was deemed to have been in the car for too long.

The #540 Boston Athletic Club Porsche quartet of Tim Pappas, Marc Lieb, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Luca Stolz claimed that final spot on the podium, and also took the Pro-Am class victory, just ahead of the #12 Ice Break & Virgin Australia Porsche of David Calvert-Jones, Patrick Long, Matt Campbell and Alex Davison.

The #43 Team Schnitzer BMW of Augusto Farfus, Marco Wittmann and Chaz Mostert was in contention until the latter caused a four-car crash in the tenth hour that saw them eliminated, with the risky move also compromising the race of the #17 Bentley Team M-Sport trio of Steven Kane, Guy Smith and Jules Gounon, while the Estre Porsche was also involved but emerged virtually unscathed, as was a back-marker Class B Porsche.

It was also a disappointing race for the two James Pem Racing Audi’s that had started second and third on the grid, with the #22 of Kelvin van der Linde crashing out, while the #74 of Markus Winkelhock suffered a driveshaft failure with ninety minutes remaining. It was particularly galling for the team, as they were at the very front of the field at the halfway point.

A huge crash at McPhillamy Park for the #82 Bolt Masters Audi in the first ninety minutes saw Andrew Bagnall suffer broken ribs and a broken pelvis, with the New Zealander treated at the scene by medical crews before being transferred to hospital.

Despite the crash, Walsh and the rest of the #69 Audi crew – James Koundouris, Theo Koundouris and Duvashen Padayachee – took the AM honours, with Class B honours going the way of the #4 Grove Group Porsche of Stephen Grove, Brenton Grove and Ben Barker, while Class C was won by the #30 Boat Works BMW of Aaron Seton, Matt Brabham and Tony Longhurst.

The #540 Porsche took Pro-Am class honours – Credit: SRO Motorsports Group

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