The #912 Earl Bamber Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R completed a late comeback to score a special debut Bathurst 12 Hour victory, the first here for Porsche, in the hands of factory trio Matt Campbell, Dennis Olsen and Dirk Werner.
Meanwhile, Porsche Carrera Cup Asia stars Chris van der Drift, Philip Hamprecht, Bao Jinlong and Paul Tresidder combined speed, youth and experience to take an impressive second-place finish for Team Carrera Cup Asia on board the #23 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, despite technical issues.
The #912 started the Bathurst 12 Hour from sixth position with Werner elected to take the wheel for the early stages. The German ran in the podium places throughout his stints, with Campbell and Olsen then sharing driving duties during the late morning and early afternoon.
Olsen was running in first place heading into the final two hours, as Campbell took over from the Norwegian with around 40 minutes left to run. Earl Bamber’s team used this opportunity to put fresh tyres and fuel on board the #912 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The team dropped to fourth, but Campbell quickly caught third place and dived down the inside at the Chase. The Australian then set about catching second, before a safety car bunched up the field.
With less than half-an-hour remaining, the 2017 Bathurst 12 Hour class winner produced a world class stint, rising to second before reeling in and pouncing on the leader in the last 10 minutes. Campbell pulled away and crossed the line to take victory after a record-breaking 312 laps, giving Porsche its first win on the Mountain on Earl Bamber Motorsport’s GT3 debut.
The #911 car, which was driven by Porsche Young Professional Mathieu Jaminet, Romain Dumas and Sven Muller was also in contention, moving inside the top-five with around seven hours completed.
Muller then took the lead with around 200 laps completed and looked set to be in the victory fight until the end, but the car was forced to retire with mechanical issues.
This result sees Porsche top the Intercontinental GT Challenge standings after the opening round, with the 2019-spec Porsche 911 GT3 R to take over for the remaining races.
In Class B, Team Carrera Cup Asia’s #23 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup enjoyed a positive return to the Bathurst 12 Hour, with drivers Van der Drift, Hamprecht, Jinlong and Tresidder qualifying in second around the 3.861-mile circuit.
The squad lost laps early on but each of the four Porsche Carrera Cup Asia talents showed race-winning pace behind the wheel, pushing hard, resulting in a fantastic second place finish.
Earl Bamber, EBM Team Principal: “We only began putting the team together at the beginning of December. Since then we’ve invested a huge amount of work into this project – not just me, but my brother Will and many other supporters. Our goal was to be able to offer the drivers two equal cars at the very highest level. We succeeded. The #911 led over long stretches but then fell back. But we had a second iron in the fire – the #912 stepped up to the mark. What Matt achieved in his last stint is film worthy. The fact that we now send this car into the Museum with a victory makes it all the more emotional. I’m completely over the moon.”
Matt Campbell, #912 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “I knew without doubt in the final moments where the strengths of our car lay – and I then used them. I eyed up my competitors, I made my overtaking moves resolutely and never backed off. That was an important key to this victory and I’m overjoyed. Bathurst is a legendary race, and it’s my home race. It was the first GT3 event for Earl Bamber’s team. To win at the first outing and in this manner is simply brilliant.”
Dirk Werner, #912 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “This is a great victory. I’ve waited a long time for such a success at a major race. There are so many special stories from this weekend. It was the maiden GT3 race for Earl’s team, it was the last race for the Porsche 911 GT3 R and not least there was Matt’s performance, he really turned up the heat at the end. It was an incredible achievement from everyone involved. I’m absolutely thrilled.”
Dennis Olsen, #912 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “Incredible! That one word actually sums it all up. Everybody worked hard for this win. Ultimately, it was about Matt’s performance in the final stint. How he fought for the lead was nothing less than amazing. I still can’t quite put my feelings into words. I guess it first has to all sink in.”
Romain Dumas, #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “We were fast, consistent and strategically well positioned with our Porsche 911 GT3 R. I drove a double stint early this morning with one set of tyres. That would have given us the benefit of fresh tyres at the end. Unfortunately we couldn’t reap the rewards of the entire team’s hard work. The fact that something breaks at such a gruelling long distance race is simply part of racing. You can’t do anything about that.”
Sven Müller, #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “The Bathurst track is awesome. It’s a little like the Nürburgring-Nordschleife – I like it. I had some exciting, tough duels during my stint and it was great fun. At times we were in the lead. Unfortunately we got the news that the power steering had a defect and that meant we were out. Congratulations to our colleagues in the #912 car.”
Mathieu Jaminet, #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “We started into the race from 12th on the grid and ploughed our way up the field. We kept out of trouble and drove our laps flawlessly. That earned us the lead. Unfortunately, about three hours before the flag, the power steering went. Luckily I managed to keep the car on the track. It’s too bad that we were thrown out of contention, but we’ll tick this off and look ahead.”
Chris van der Drift, Team Carrera Cup Asia driver: “It was great to make it to the end of the Bathurst 12 Hour. The race was a lot of fun regardless of the time we lost in the pits. Thank you to my team-mates and Porsche Carrera Cup Asia for making this all possible.”
Philip Hamprecht, Team Carrera Cup Asia driver: “It was a good race, we didn’t plan to have this many stops but it is the way it is. We had a lot of fun, despite losing a number of laps, which we could only get back if the leader had issues. Overall though I enjoyed my time here with my team-mates and Carrera Cup Asia. It’s a cool track and a big event, I’m very glad to have been a part of it.”
Bao Jinlong, Team Carrera Cup Asia driver: “I’ve never driven a track like this, you’re constantly going up and down, with the walls really close. There are a lot of very good drivers here so the competition is tough but we did well.”
Paul Tresidder, Team Carrera Cup Asia driver: “Great result with the Team Carrera Cup Asia car this year. Thank you to everyone at Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, I’m very happy after that race.”
Alexandre Gibot, Head of Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific: “This has been a fantastic weekend for Porsche customers and Earl Bamber Motorsport did everything right to get the win. It’s great to see Porsche on the top step of the podium here for the first time, the drivers did an excellent job. We’re also very proud of the Team Carrera Cup Asia squad, who came here with a talented line-up. All drivers did so well despite the issues and we are delighted that they enjoyed the event and were outpacing more experienced competitors.”