We doubt that the organisers will change the name for Liqu-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour to Liqu-Moly Bathurst 11 Hour and 40 Minute, but that is the length that this year’s even at Mount Panorama needed to reach a conclusion, with Audi being declared the winner.
Team WRT Audi drivers Stuart Leonard, Dries Vanthoor and Robin Frijns were declared the winners after the race had to be red-flagged going into the final minutes.
The number 93 car of Bryce Fullwood and the number 69 of Ash Walsh got entangled at Sulman Park. Walsh’s car was left disabled and stopped sideways across the track, where it and Walsh were t-boned by John Martin at high speed.
The drivers of all three cars seemed to emerge unscathed, other than perhaps shaken badly from the force of the impacts, but the debris from the three cars was deemed to extensive to get the track cleaned up in sufficient time to permit a restart of the remaining minutes of the race.
Otherwise, it was a magnificent race, as all the leaders were playing a tense game of fuel conservation in the effort to avoid making an additional pit stop.
Frijns had the lead, but was being hotly pursued by the number 75 Mercedes with Supercars champ Jamie Whincup at the wheel. Not far behind, Laurens Vanthoor in a Porsche was poised in good position to pounce.
“I don’t think we would’ve made it if it was full-out green, so we were hoping for a Safety Car,” Frijns said. “Eventually it (safety car) came but for the big crash, so we hope everybody is alright.”
Vanthoor and his team were 27 seconds down, but they lost a podium finish when stewards slapped the Craft Bamboo Porsche he was driving with a 30-second penalty because Vanthoor exceeded the maximum permissible driving time.
The race had 16 Safety Car periods and more than a few big crashes, one involving 70-year-old Andrew Bagnall, who broke ribs and his right pelvis.
Where we do our motoring, 70-year-olds are often seen driving below the speed limit, in the passing lane and with their turn flasher continuously blinking.