Bathurst 12 Hour: van Gisbergen storms to victory
Despite three pit stops and a drive-through penalty in the final quarter of the race, Tekno McLaren line-up Shane van Gisbergen, Alvaro Parente, and Jono Webb won the 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour.
With the race boiling down to a four-way fight between the cars left on the lead lap, the #59 Tekno McLaren had to do it the tough way in the final quarter of the race.
It started with a disastrous driver-change pit stop right on the 10-hour mark. Firstly, the team had to do it under green-flag conditions, a slightly earlier safety car period not stretching long enough to work into New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen’s driving time window.
Then, van Gisbergen stalled while trying to pull away. Adding insult to injury, he was then pinged for speeding on the way down pitlane, incurring a drive-through penalty.
Yet crucially, van Gisbergen managed to not go a lap down. The Tekno squad then opted to pit twice within the next hour, once under safety car and once not, keeping the stops short enough to jump the #2 Phoenix Audi, the #10 M-Sport Bentley, and the race-leading #1 Nissan GT-R.
From there, with next to no fuel concerns, it became a straight fight between van Gisbergen and Chiyo in the Nissan, the lead starting at around 12sec. But while Chiyo had moments where he could begin to close on the McLaren, van Gisbergen always had enough in hand to respond.
The gap did ultimately come down, Chiyo setting up a grandstand finish by charging to within 1.2sec on the last lap, but van Gisbergen wasn't to be denied.
“Thanks to the team," said the elated van Gisbergen. "The car has been fastest all weekend, so to win on strategy and pace is amazing,”
“We had [Chiyo] covered. Every time he did a [quick] lap, I stuck the knife in and did the same.”
Steven Kane brought the #10 Bentley home in third place, pulling away from the #2 Phoenix Audi in the closing stages of the race to secure the final spot on the podium for him, Guy Smith, and Matt Bell.
That resigned Laurens Vanthoor, Markus Winkelhock, and Alex Davison to fourth – still a remarkable result given that the car was a lap down mid-way through the race.
David Reynolds was fifth in the #36 Erebus Mercedes, a lap behind the winner, with the #5 GT Motorsport Audi of Greg Taylor, Barton Mawer, and Nathan Antunes taking fifth outright and first in Class A-Am.
There was absolutely no contest in Class B, the #4 Grove Porsche winning by a whopping 16 laps. The team even had time to make an extra stop to put car owner Stephen Grove into the car for the finish, co-drivers Earl Bamber and Scott McLaughlin watching from the sidelines.
Class I was a drubbing as well, the #93 MARC Mazda 3 of Jake Camilleri, Morgan Haber, and Aaron Seton winning by eight laps.
Bathurst 12 Hour: Bentley back in front with three hours to go
Van Gisbergen: I had Chiyo covered