The BMW M6 GT3 teams produced an impressive performance in the 12-hour race at the iconic “Mount Panorama Circuit” in Bathurst (AUS), but their efforts went unrewarded. BMW Team SRM, with BMW DTM drivers Timo Glock (GER) and Philipp Eng (AUT) sharing the cockpit of the number 100 BMW M6 GT3 with team principal Steve Richards (NZL), eventually finished ninth. The number 43 BMW M6 GT3, run by BMW Team Schnitzer and driven by BMW DTM drivers Marco Wittmann (GER) and Augusto Farfus (BRA), together with Chaz Mostert (AUS), was forced to retire following a collision whilst challenging for a spot on the podium. The race was brought to a close 12 minutes ahead of schedule, due to a big crash.
The 12-hour classic got off to a brilliant start: Mostert started from pole position in the number 43 BMW M6 GT3 and began to open up a lead at the front of the field. A host of safety car periods then meant that he and his team-mates were unable to take advantage of the morning’s good conditions for the BMW M6 GT3. As the race progressed, the trio dropped back through the field, however, they did manage to regain some positions in the closing stages, and set their sights on the podium again. Then, after nine and a half hours, came the retirement for Mostert, Wittmann and Farfus. Running fourth at the time, Mostert, embroiled in a battle for position with several other cars, was involved in a collision. While he was able to return to the pits, the car was too seriously damaged to continue.
The trio in the BMW Team SRM car produced an impressive fightback in the race. A disqualification meant that the number 100 BMW M6 GT3 had to start from 49th and last place on Saturday. Despite that, Glock, Richards and Eng soon worked their way into the leading group. A brake issue then cost the trio time in the closing stages, and they eventually came home ninth.
The new BMW M4 GT4 won the GT4 class on its Australian debut. The Boat Works Racing team claimed victory in the class from pole position. The number 30 BMW M4 GT4 was driven by Tony Longhurst, Matt Brabham and Aaron Seton (all AUS). The number 13 BMW M4 GT4, run by the RHC Lawrence/Strom team and driven by Daren Jorgensen, Cameron Lawrence, Brett Strom (all USA) and Kuno Wittmer (CAN), was fourth. They were followed over the line in fifth place by the number 44 BMW M4 GT4 of BMW Team SRM, in which the three Australians, Dean Grant, Xavier West and Cameron Hill, alternated at the wheel.
Quotes from the Bathurst 12 Hour:
Timo Glock (BMW Team SRM, No. 100 BMW M6 GT3):
“It was once again a real highlight and a crazy race, with an awful lot of safety car periods. It was a dream for me to be able to start the race, as I did last year. That is very special here, and getting the car through all the traffic from the back of the field without suffering any damage was a big challenge for us. I achieved that, and we were already in the top-ten by the end of the first stint. Steve, Philipp and the whole team did a flawless job. The strategy was excellent, and we got the car through to the finish without a single scratch. Unfortunately, we had some issues with the brakes towards the end of the race, and dropped back. All in all, Bathurst was great fun again.”
Philipp Eng (BMW Team SRM, No. 100 BMW M6 GT3):
“It was a unique experience. The circuit is awesome and you can feel your adrenaline pumping every single lap. I really enjoyed it. The race started with an incredible first stint from Timo. Steve and I then continued to climb through the field, and we actually led briefly – having started from 49th place. Unfortunately, technical issues thwarted us towards the end. On the whole, however, the BMW M6 GT3 was very good in terms of balance and driveability. I learned a lot this weekend and it was great fun. I would definitely love to return to Australia, and to Bathurst.”
Steve Richards (BMW Team SRM, No. 100 BMW M6 GT3):
“I am really, really proud of our team this weekend. The strategy today was spot-on and if not for an unexpected brake issue then who knows – it might have been a podium. At the end of the day, it’s great to get the car home without a scratch on it. Very happy with the result, everyone worked really well together.”
Marco Wittmann (BMW Team Schnitzer, No. 43 BMW M6 GT3):
“We had a great car, especially in qualifying and in the first two stints in the morning. Chaz was doing an awesome job, pulling away and we showed a strong performance with the BMW M6 GT3. But when the sun came out and temperatures rose, we were missing a bit on top speed. It was then difficult for us to overtake. In addition, we got a drive-through penalty that dropped us back. But we actually fought back and were running in a promising position. Chaz tried it – and sometimes it works out and sometimes not. But at least he tried it. For sure it is a shame because we were still in the hunt for a podium or maybe even the win. There were more than two hours to go. But that’s racing and things like this can happen.”
Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Schnitzer, No. 43 BMW M6 GT3):
“Chaz did an amazing opening stint but we couldn’t get clear in the first part of the race. That put us on the back foot, also with the drive-through penalty. Then we had to take some risks and attack to fight our way back towards the front. It is a shame because we had a fast and competitive package and we go home with nothing. But it is part of the game. Overall it was a pleasure and an honour to be here, to learn from Chaz here in Australia, to work with BMW Team Schnitzer again and with Marco. And I am sure better days will come.”
Chaz Mostert (BMW Team Schnitzer, No. 43 BMW M6 GT3):
“I’m 100 per cent gutted to have crashed the car when we were in such a good position. It’s one of those things that’s hard to take. We had a fast car all weekend, but in the race we found ourselves on the back foot a little bit, and I was trying my hardest to make some ground back. I thought if I could clear a couple of cars I’d be on my way, but it didn’t work. I took a risky option; I tried to take advantage of some lapped cars, and there just wasn’t enough room for three cars. I’m gutted for BMW Team Schnitzer, for BMW Motorsport, and for my amazing team-mates Augusto and Marco. It’s been an amazing weekend, we showed how well the BMW M6 GT3 works at Bathurst. I think we deserved a strong result this year, but it just wasn’t our day.”