Toni Vilander, Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup have combined to take the 2017 Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hours in spectacular circumstances for Maranello Motorsport, scoring the team’s second win at the event.
It is a race whose excitement won’t be reflected in the record books as the Maranello Ferrari won by over one lap from the Competition Motorsports Porsche of Matt Campbell, Pat Long, Marc Lieb and David Calvert-Jones; and the Bentley of Jonny Kane, Guy Smith and Olly Jarvis.
The missing car in that puzzle is the HTP Motorsport Mercedes of Shane van Gisbergen, Maro Engel and Craig Baird.
The excitement certainly came inside the last hour of the race Gisbergen emerged from the final round of pitstops ahead of Whincup. They were nose to tail with around half an hour left of the race.
The chase was on and the Ferrari had a known straight-line speed advantage and a new tyre advantage over the Mercedes. Gisbergen got caught up by traffic and Whincup pounced.
Down Conrod, Whincup went to the inside and was forced to have two wheels on the grass but managed to pull off the pass for the win. He immediately pulled a gap of a couple of seconds.
But that was not the end of the story as Gisbergen pushed, he came across Andrew MacPherson and gave a gentle touch through the final sequence of corners and the AMAC Porsche was hard into the wall.
Naturally this would give Gisbergen, who was undamaged a pit lane penalty.
The issue then came, he never got to take it.
After the safety car came in Gisbergen was pushing hard to keep up with the Ferrari. Through the Esses he pushed too hard, lost the rear and hit the wall hard with the front of the Mercedes.
While he was able to make it down Conrod, he couldn’t get to the pits and the race was over.
Gisbergen was devastated and teammate Engel was furious, citing continuous errors from his teammate in an extraordinary but short tirade.
The other outcome from the incident was the Competition Motorsport Porsche stepped up into second. They had been on the final lap but a late race incident with the Lago Lamborghini saw a drive through penalty. Their position was safe.
They beat the all British Bentley team, recovering from a disastrous qualifying. They ran a solid tactical race, keeping out of trouble. A long final stint saw them gain a podium position.
The Class B competition was taken by Steven Richards Motorsport with Dean Grant, Dylan O’Keeffe and David Wall who stepped in for an Xavier West at the last minute.
There was a great race for the win in Class I between the MARC Cars with the squad taking the top four positions. It was the #91 of Keith Kassulke, Will Brown and Rod Salmon. They were being closed in by their teammates and Aaron Seaton but the gap was controlled to the end.
Class C was taken by the Prosport Performance Porsche of Andy Prilgram, Max Braams, Jorg Viebahn-Moller and Nicoloij Madsen-Jones, taking a five lap win over the Brookspeed Porsche.