Monday, March 2, 2015

2015 BATHURST 12 HOUR - The Morals of the FCY-ridden Story

The hero car of this year's Bathurst 12 Hour (image: GT Academy on Twitter)

"Bathurst Delivers!" As endurance racing commentary regular slash my favorite commentator ever John Hindhaugh always said amidst the 12-hour endurance race at Mount Panorama Circuit. This year's crop gathered cars from different classes, with GT3 as, obviously, the highlight category though with a twist in a form of "Pro" and "Am" sub-categories with other category grids include Flat 6 cup cars, GT4s, production cars and invitationals. Even with the race itself clashed with V8 Supercars's super test at Sydney Motorsports Park, meaning that we didn't see Craig Lowndes, Shane Van Gisbergen and Rick Kelly, this year's race gave us top-flight GT drivers in return, including GT Academy graduates Florian Strauss and Wolfgang Reip and Blancpain GT Series champion Laurens Vanthoor, who turned out to be the next breed of the "mountain killer" after setting the fastest lap to an extent he brought Phoenix Racing "The Al" - The Allan Simonsen Memorial trophy awarded for the pole position in the qualifying.

Bathurst 12 Hour is anything but without a story, and this year's race once again proved why there's always a great story that lies in such a race. This post lists some of the author's choice memorable moments that has made you excited, nervous, cringe and delighted throughout the race's run.

(WARNING: This post contains lots of pics and GIFs. Not for the faint-hearted snails)


On my Twitter, I tweeted ten B12hr things plus one bonus that I can consider as a "moral of the story". Below here were my tweets (edited for the blog, also posted to my Facebook beforehand):

1. My internet sucked at earlier stages, yet was able to digest a little bit of video streaming.
2. In case of video stream eff-ups, there's Radio Le Mans, yet won't be complete without John Hindhaugh and friends! Props to these guys! (y)
3. An endurance race is never complete without John Hindhaugh. Period.
4. Close racing is its tradition hands down, even in GT3 category.
5. V8 Supercars is... well, they better regret their choice of clashing their testing with this event! :p

6. As #5 stated, we don't have Lowndes, SVG and Rick Kelly. Yet we had Laurens Vanthoor, Katsumasa Chiyo and GT Academy guys, among all others, in return :D
7. NISMO is indeed motorsport's Taylor Swift. <-- Totally random :v
8. Kangaroos now eat donuts, crocodiles now eat STIX. And donuts are the commentators' favorite too!
9. This year's race has brought diversity, which is very good! GT3s, Daytona Coupe, BMWs, Porsches, Mazda RX8s, MARC Fords. What else?
10. Video Games can get you anywhere, even to Bathurst :D

But despite so, there's more to the story than just all the things I have tweeted...


The big "NO!" of this year's race (image: Auto Action)

Maranello Motorsport had one job: to maintain the glory they had last year from the hungry competitors seeking for their revenge last year. This year, they were wrapped in the McDonalds sponsorship which, in my opinion... well, I can't say much, other than imagining myself eating a Big Mac in the middle of the race as a sign of support to the team. However, this year marked their absence as their car was severely crashed during qualifying to the point that it was irrepairable. They also tried to act as Momotaros Imagin to AF Corse, but somehow it didn't work. Alas, no Maranello, no McMaranello, and no Big Macs.

For this year's race, they put a line-up of Mika Salo, Tony D'Alberto and Ben "ex-The Stig" Collins. Where the last year's drivers John Bowe and Peter Edwards, you said? Both drive the same Flying B Bentley Continental GT3 this year with David Brabham as their other driver. To note, Flying B is one of the three Bentley-powered teams to take part, with the rest belong to M-Sport.


Bloody Blister - #15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS Ultra of Laurens Vanthoor, Marco Mapelli and Markus Winkelhock (image:

Losing V8 Supercars superstars means that the race would be sour without the presence of Craig Lowndes, Shane van Gisbergen and Rick Kelly. However, one name managed to stagger everyone who were watching: Laurens Vanthoor, the fastest man on the mountain, whose nickname he beared because he set the new fastest lap for the GT3 cars and made Phoenix Racing Audi start on pole position.

Oh, and what if I told you Laurens Vanthoor himself posted the onboard moment of the fast lap he set online?


Bathurst 12 Hour is a one-of-a-kind endurance race where everyone starts at the break of dawn where the track is still dark, thus requiring headlights to illuminate the darkness, but that's not enough as it also tests the drivers' focus. Cold morning with a little to no light levels and engine sounds screaming behind them with no clue whether a stray animal would pop out of nowhere made up one of Bathurst 12 Hour's common traditions, and this year is no different.



So Close - #10 Bentley Continental GT GT3 belonged to Bentley Team M-Sport, driven by Guy Smith, Stephen Kane and Matt Bell, was one of the three newly-competed Bentleys in Bathurst 12 Hour. They missed the podium placement after losing the podium battle against #15 Phoenix Racing Audi and #97 Craft Bamboo Aston Martin. (image: Matt Bell Racing / The Checkered Flag)

Big, bulky and mean. Enter GT3's equivalent of David Karofsky: Bentley Continental GT3. Debuted on Bathurst 12 Hour this year by the hands of M-Sport and Flying B Racing, three of this car were taken to the mountain which is the first time the car went to the mountain outing; their real debut was in 2014 where they were competed in Blancpain GT Series last year.

True to its Karofsky-ness, it, along with the two others, gave the others problems.

But they ran into their own problems too...

At the finish, though, they missed the podium after a close battle with the #15 Phoenix Racing Audi and a #97 Craft Bamboo Aston Martin. I guess bullies never prosper then, but they did their best there. Just be thankful they didn't have the Slushie-spitting contraption on their exhausts or the race would actually be Glee-themed instead.


Last year, a kangaroo let out its hate to Lamborghinis. This year, there wasn't only one wild animal that made its cameo; there were two. First, kangaroo / wallaby, and finally the crocodile. I don't know what the kangaroo's / wallaby's intention was when it crossed the race track, but for the crocodile, I thought it was having a secret love to Stix. It's just that the crocodile didn't want to have its passion for Stix televised, so that could be why it spitted its Stix.

On the serious note, that's quite a big crash. Glad that the driver was okay, yet big props go to MARC cars Australia as they have made a car that is both reliable and sturdy; able to made sure the driver survives such a big crash.

"We got a wallaby on track, wallaby on track!" (image: Duck 7 on Tumblr)

Speaking of kangaroos / wallabies crossing the circuit, it didn't happen only once.

The OUCH! Factor - A BMW hit a passing kangaroo

But twice. (OUCH!)

(image: @BaronVonClutch on Twitter)

Yet we can't forget the horses, although the it's only a cameo animal that doesn't seem to "color" the race on track...


"Success ballast refueling procedure rule checking?" (image: @LanzaroteCamel on Twitter)

Probably one of the best candid moments, if it doesn't match the candidness of the kangaroo and the crocodile. This was where we see Hindy and the crew's obsession to donuts. Were you readers one of those hungry for donuts by the time you were seeing this?

Probably the kangaroo / wallaby the BMW car hit was looking for this? Or probably the one that crossed the race track on a random whim who did? Hence why they went to an extent crossing the race track...


Because Safety Car (image: Ausmotive)

Cringe-worthy for some, but like it or not, it was part of the game. This year's race was plagued by 21 full course yellows, which explains the title very much. Even the best drivers could have their get togethers on the mountain.


The abundant amount of Full Course Yellows was nothing compared to this: streaming issues. At one point, everything went Smurf even though there either was no blue moon or Gargamel, and at one point also the stream went down several times. However, Radio Le Mans came in handy when the streaming wasn't well.

On my side, I had to struggle with internet speed issues to the point I threw my fit on Twitter. Granted, my internet did work well even though there were lags when streaming. The most cringe-worthy thing however was that I cannot access the Live Timing at all as it gave me "connection errors" no matter how many times I refreshed.


Nissan in Bathurst - Then, yesteryear, and now (images: Crank and Piston, Youtube Screengrab, Speedcafe)

1991, a Nissan Skyline GTR (R32) conquered Bathurst 1000 and earned the nickname "Godzilla". Fast forward to 2015 where three drivers with courage reclaimed what Nissan had lost: a Bathurst win. The battle of the closing minutes witnessed the Nissan GT-R GT3's fight against the Phoenix Racing Audi and one of the M-Sport Bentleys, and from the last green after the last FCY, Katsumasa Chiyo displayed the showcase of staying cool under the pressure; to make sure Chiyo has done it best, everyone was cheering hard, the track was as hard as hell and there were lead lap cars very close to each other driven by top-flight GT drivers who have slightly more experiences than Chiyo has.

In the end, his struggle paid off. Not only he avenged his team's failure on the last year's race, but he also marked Godzilla's territory once again and put smiles on his and the team's fans and put a smile to Alex Buncombe who had to absent before the race started due to the arrival of his first child. Buncombe stated that pulling out to this race has been a very hard decision knowing that he was waiting for his first child's arrival and that the timing didn't seem to work out.

Congratulations to the Nissan team, the drivers, and Alex Buncombe too for his first child! Looking forward for a bruising line-up of Rick Kelly, Alex Buncombe, Katsumasa Chiyo and a GT Academy driver for next year!


The real silver lining? Never underestimate Bathurst 12 Hour, to an extent having a rivaling event in which their drivers, who wanted to make an appearance on the mountain, are prohibited to do so. That rivaling event in question is the V8 Supercars SuperTest in Sydney Motorsport Park. Shame on them to do such a thing because, to be honest, all the international eyes were on the race obviously, not the testing.

Though I hope that V8 Supercars would re-schedule the next year's testing session so that they will allow some of their drivers participate in the exciting international-grade race that is Bathurst 12 Hour.


Because just tens of pictures aren't enough, a picspam would do. Even better, not just a picspam but a GIF-spam!

Bathurst 12 Hour will not be as exciting as it always do without the winning team that is Radio Le Mans! The team knew how to put a great show and this year was not an exception, especially John Hindhaugh. Special thanks also go to the race marshals involved for their quick decision-making and fast reactions, and also to the winners, finishers, drivers, teams and sponsors who made everything happen!

Remember, folks. If there is something you want to etch in your heart, it's this:

"Bathurst Delivers" -John Hindhaugh

Further reading:
DailySportsCar's Bathurst 12 Hour review
Full race recap at
Radio Le Mans podcasts of all sessions of Bathurst 12 Hour
Watch the race again on the official site
Paul Truswell's, cleverly-done observations of this year's Bathurst 12 Hour


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