Queensland youngster Matt Campbell has stamped his name into history after guiding Porsche to a memorable victory in today’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
It was Porsche’s first-ever win in the 12-Hour event, and Campbell’s first victory in six attempts at the endurance race after several near misses in recent years.
“I knew it was going to be tough but I didn’t think it was going to be that tough,” Cambell said.
“To do it the way we did in the last stint, was amazing. The car was perfect towards the end… It was great to finally win this race, especially as it’s this car’s last race.”
Campbell partnered Shane van Gisbergen in Supercars endurance events in 2017 and was driving in a GT3-R, owned by kiwi Earl Bamber who partnered van Gisbergen in the 2018 Supercars endurance events.
The victory came after an audacious move by Campbell heading down Mount Panorama at the famous Forrest’s Elbow. The Warwick youngster passed the Aston Martin of Jake Dennis with eight minutes remaining and crossed the line first to claim the win in the ride he shared with Dirk Werner (GER) and Dennis Olsen (NOR).
There was some tense minutes post-race as the result was subject to a post-race investigation which was cleared by Stewards. The move examined was a Campbell pass on Bathurst 1000 winner Chaz Mostert into The Chase in the final hour, when they were contesting third place.
Campbell concluded the 12 Hours with a winning margin of 3.4413 seconds over Dennis, while GruppeM’s Mercedes won a fraught fight with van Gisbergen for the final podium place.
In the closing laps, Raffaele Marciello (ITA) kept the 2016 Supercars Champion and Mostert at bay, their Mercedes and BMWs taking fourth and fifth.
That top five was covered by just 8.9s and a rapid pace led to a new race record, the 312 completed laps surpassing the tally of 297 in 2016.
Mostert’s BMW Team Schnitzer M6 led the way at the halfway mark, following a morning with trouble for some high-profile entries.
As the day wore on Safety Car appearances played a major role in team strategy which eventually worked in the way of Campbell, who had fresher tyres than the rest of the contenders heading into the closing stages.
Campbell’s move on Dennis’ will go down as one of the gutsiest in the 12-Hour history book and the 23-year old made sure it paid off as he cleared away for an emotional win. In the post-race press conference, Campbell described the victory as the best moment of his life following a tearful celebration with family members at the end of the race.
As for other results for Supercars drivers, the Matt Stone Racing Audi of Todd Hazelwood, David Russell and Roger Lago took second in Pro-Am category, one spot ahead of Lee Holdsworth, Dean Fiore and Marc Cini, the entries 10th and 11th outright.
Class B Porsche honours were claimed by Dunlop Super2 Series driver Brenton Grove, with his father Steven and Ben Barker in 16th.
The HubAuto Corsa Ferrari with Nick Percat and Tim Slade in the line-up tangled with a lapped car two hours in, with Percat behind the wheel. Repairs eventually got the car back out, with Percat, Slade and Nick Foster classified 18th and 33 laps down.
There were early exits for both the Erebus Motorsport Mercedes and the Audi featuring Garth Tander.
Erebus’ effort with Scott Taylor Motorsport lost two laps during the first half with with David Reynolds, Luke Youlden and Yasser Shahin. Shortly after the halfway mark, a rock punctured the radiator, ending its day.
Tander was running third during the fifth hour when he hit a slower Mercedes. Repairs put the car down six laps, and it made one of those back before co-driver Frederic Vervisch (BEL) crashed at McPhilamy Park seven-and-a-half hours in.
The event, which for the first time featured four days of racing, attracted a total crowd of 49,495.