Published on February 6th, 2023 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
2023 Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour Results And Pictures
SunEnergy1 Racing has scored back-to-back LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour wins after a dramatic final-hour clash. Jules Gounon became the first three-time winner, with Luca Stolz and Kenny Habul both winning for the second time.
Gounon won despite being sent into a final-hour spin at The Chase by GruppeM Racing ace Maro Engel. Engel was hit with a drive-through penalty over the incident, and dropped to third. It left Gounon in the clutches of Aussie Porsche star Matt Campbell, who finished just 0.9s behind.
It was the second straight year Gounon and Engel fought for victory, and for the second time, Gounon emerged triumphant.
Queenslander Campbell, the 2019 winner, shared the #912 Manthey EMA Porsche with Thomas Preining and Mathieu Jaminet. Engel, who was second in 2022, was third with Mikael Grenier and Raffaele Marciello.
After 12 hours, the top three were covered by just 1.4s despite a near-five-hour long green run to the end. It was a thrilling footnote to a weekend which brought in a 12 Hour record crowd of 53,446.
“I’m dead,” an exhausted Gounon said.
“I want to say sorry to Maro for the contact, last week we won an amazing race.
“This week, we had to fight… it’s gonna be hard, to win Bathurst.
“I’m sorry, I’m really dead. The last stint with old tyres, having to defend.”
The race which ran to a record 323 laps and 2006km culminated in a thrilling final two-hour shootout for victory. Gounon took over the leading #75 Mercedes-AMG from Stolz with 2h05m remaining. It left Marciello 30.5s to the good over Campbell, with Gounon 11.4s behind the Porsche.
Marciello had a comfortable margin, but tensions rose in the GruppeM garage once a modem issue reared its head.
Officials and GruppeM crew deliberated for the best part of an hour as Marciello carried on in the lead. The data logger was malfunctioning, and officials informed the team it had to be replaced at the next stop.
The modem recovered, but Campbell and Gounon were closing behind; Gounon, with 1h24s left, slashed the gap to Campbell to 4.3s.
Campbell followed Marciello in for their respective final stops with 1h09m remaining.
GruppeM hurriedly changed the modem, with new tyres fitted and Engel returning behind the wheel. New rubber was also fitted to the #912 Porsche, which resumed behind the #999.
SunEnergy1 reacted on the following lap and brought Gounon in, but no tyres were fitted to the #75. It ensured Gounon had track position, but Engel and Campbell both had superior grip behind.
The two Mercedes-AMGs went to war, with Campbell just 12 seconds behind.
On the 299th lap, with 49 minutes remaining, Engel showed the nose at The Chase, with Gounon hanging on. On the following lap, at the same corner, Engel had another lunge but Gounon was sent spinning into the grass. Engel emerged with a 7.4s lead over Gounon, but was quickly slapped with a drive-through penalty.
The margin blew out to 8.2s, but the key margin became that from Gounon to Campbell behind. On new tyres, Campbell turned up the wick and began to close on the #75; with 37 minutes left, the gap was 2.9s. That’s when Engel served his penalty, unleashing Gounon and Campbell to fight for overall honours.
Daniel Juncadella (#77 Mercedes-AMG) spun at The Chase with 32 minutes remaining, and dropped behind Feeney and Farfus. All the while, Campbell ate into Gounon’s margin; with 23 minutes left, it was just 0.7s.
Try as he might with a wall rub at Sulman Park Campbell was unable to pressure Gounon into a mistake. Sheldon van der Linde brought home fourth in the #32 WRT BMW with Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts.
Broc Feeney was fifth in the #888 Supercheap Auto Mercedes-AMG with Shane van Gisbergen and Maximilian Gotz.
Valentino Rossi’s Bathurst debut ended with sixth, with Augusto Farfus crossing the line sixth in the #46 BMW. Chaz Mostert, Liam Talbot and Fraser Ross (#65 Audi) took out the Pro-Am class, and were seventh overall.
Silver class honours went to Dylan O’Keeffe, Daniel Gaunt and Andrew Fawcett (#10 Audi), which finished 12th overall. The Invitational class went to the MARC entry of Darren Currie, Grant Donaldson and Geoff Taunton.
Picture Credit: Mark Horsburgh, EDGE Photographics