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Bathurst 12 Hours: Hour One, Ben Barnicoat Takes Early Lead

59Racing McLaren at the top of the field as the sun rises over Mount Panorama

The first hour of the Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour has seen Ben Barnicoat in the #60 59Racing McLaren take the lead, and stretch out a 4-second advantage over Maxi Buhk in the #999 GruppeM Mercedes AMG. Warm conditions in the mid 20’s Centigrade greeted the field in the darkness, as the race started before dawn.

Both Barnicoat and Buhk managed to make early passes on the pole-sitting Patrick Pilet #911 Absolute Racing Porsche, then stretched out a gap ahead of the field.

Barnicoat made a forceful move just on 20 minutes in at The Chase. While Buhk moved to cover the McLaren, there was no preventing the pass, as Barnicoat moved the Mercedes out of the way with minimal contact. Both cars managed to continue without further issue.

There’s been only one notable incident so far; the #20 T2 Motorsports MARC II of Daniel Jilesen making contact with the wall at The Cutting. The car was able to return to the garage, but with front end damage that will require repair in the garage.

The big losers from the first part of the race have been the #76 R-Motorsport Aston Martin. An electrical glitch on the first lap dropping the car from the top 10 down into 31st at the end of the first lap. Rick Kelly at the wheel has since recovered to 23rd position.

Craig Lowndes in the #1 Earl Bamber Motorsports Porsche has also been in the wars, losing 5 positions to 10th after running wide at the chase.

34 cars took the start, with both the #8 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental and the #29 Trofeo Motorsports Lamborghini making the grid after overnight repairs. The Trofeo Motorsports Lamborghini working until only hours before the race start, while Alex Buncombe in the #8 Bentley has driven that car up to 19th position.

The sun has risen over the mountain, providing some magic shots of the cars over the Mountain. With 11 hours remaining, conditions are expected to continue to get warm, before a predicted storm late in the piece.