Porsche Seals Maiden Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli Victory at Bathurst 12 Hour
Series heads to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for California 8 Hours March 29-30
Porsche claimed a thrilling victory in Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli’s season opener at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour on February 3 courtesy of Earl Bamber Motorsport’s Matt Campbell, Dirk Werner and Dennis Olsen.
Aston Martin finished second overall, but it was Mercedes-AMG that completed the Intercontinental GT Challenge podium following a nail-biting fight between GruppeM Racing and Team Vodafone over the closing stages.
Porsche’s first series and Bathurst victory came on a record-breaking day at Mount Panorama where more laps – 312 – were completed than at any previous Bathurst 12 Hour. 49,495 fans also attended over the four days, an increase of 7885 compared to last year’s total, while five manufacturers finished inside the top-six. It was also the outgoing 911’s final outing as Porsche’s frontline GT3 model.
However, even those statistics were overshadowed by a race for the ages that was only decided in the final 10 minutes.
EBM’s two Porsches had remained a constant presence inside the top-10 over the first eight hours but finally hit the front when their alternative strategy, aided by the event’s longest-ever period between Safety Cars, began to play out. #911 initially led the team’s challenge, but when it retired with a power steering issue the sister #912 was perfectly placed to maintain Porsche’s challenge.
Changing tires at the final pit stop initially dropped local hero Matt Campbell to fourth and seemingly out of contention, but as those ahead on older rubber faded so the Australian began to make headway. He was up to third when the eighth and final Safety Car was called with just 30 minutes remaining, which set up a late-race showdown between the seven cars still on the lead lap.
Campbell wasted no time relieving Raffaele Marciello’s GruppeM Mercedes-AMG of second but found Jake Dennis’ R-Motorsport Aston Martin harder to pass. That was until the Briton left just enough room for the Porsche to squeeze past on the inside of Elbow Bend with less than 10 minutes remaining.
“It’s absolutely phenomenal,” said Campbell. “To win my home event like that, and especially for EBM in their first GT3 race, is pretty amazing. I just love this joint [Bathurst] and to finally get the Bathurst 12 Hour win feels awesome! It wasn’t easy – the cool-suit, helmet fan and drinks bottle all failed at one point – but we made it through. I gave it absolutely everything and left nothing on the table. I’m ecstatic. I knew where we were faster than the Aston Martin so had to pick my moment and commit. We made it stick. Phenomenal!”
Fans who attended Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI may recall team owner Bamber as the Porsche Works driver who made memorable stints in the Porsche 919 Evo Hybrid and the Porsche 953 Group B Rally Car. The talented Kiwi thrashed this offseason to orchestrate the winning team at the Bathurst 12 Hour.
Round two of the world’s only global GT3 championship takes place at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the California 8 Hours on March 28-30. The manufacturer count will increase to eight at this event with Honda joining the series to compete on the grid along with Porsche, Audi, Mercedes-AMG, Bentley, Ferrari, Nissan and BMW. Tickets are available here.