In the gripping Top 10 Shootout on the spectacular 6.213 kilometre Mount Panorama Circuit, the Porsche works driver Earl Bamber (New Zealand) posted the seventh quickest time in temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius. His teammates for the race are Kévin Estre (France) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium). The more than 500 hp customer sports racer was designed for worldwide GT3 series on the basis of the 911 GT3 RS production sports car and is fielded in the top Class A-GT3 Pro-Pro by the Australian Walkinshaw GT3 squad.
The 911 GT3 R run by Competition Motorsports takes up the race from the fifth grid row, after the Australian Porsche Junior, Matt Campbell, posted the ninth fastest time. His teammates are the Porsche factory pilots Marc Lieb (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) as well as his compatriot David Calvert-Jones. They were the only entries in Class A-GT3 Pro-Am to make it into the Top 10 Shootout.
Pole position in the Class B-GT3 went to the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup campaigned by Grove Motorsport, which is Earl Bamber’s winning team of 2016.
Alex Stehlig, Programme Manager Bathurst: “It took quite some time for us to get the 911 GT3 R where we wanted it. Basically we spent the time up to the qualifying to work on the setup. The race is long and it won’t be easy. Our competition is very strong, and this means if we want to reach our goal, that is to finish at the front, we still have some work to do.”
Earl Bamber (911 GT3 R #911): “We were able to maintain our position during the top 10 qualifying and we can be happy with that. The shootout was great for the fans. There are a lot of cars competing so traffic on this selective circuit will be a big problem in the race tomorrow. In the first nine hours we have to try to keep out of any trouble so that we can then attack and get as far to the front of the field as possible.”
Matt Campbell (911 GT3 R #12): “Starting a twelve-hour race from the ninth grid spot is not bad. I’m pleased how things have gone for us. Now I’m looking forward to the race with such experienced teammates like Marc and Patrick. Marc won Le Mans in 2016 and became the World Endurance Champion, Patrick has notched up many major race victories over many years. The fact that they said I should drive the shootout is a huge honour for me. That was an important experience.”
Results of the Qualifying
Result Top 10 Shootout
1. Vilander/Lowndes/Wincup (SF/AUS/AUS), Ferrari 488, 2:02.861 minutes
2. Mostert/Twigg/Haber (AUS/AUS/AUS), BMW M6, + 0.194 seconds
3. Wittmann/Richards/Winterbottom (D/AUS/AUS), BMW M6, + 0.388
4. Walsh/Miedecke/Bates (AUS/AUS/AUS), Lamborghini R-EX, + 0.962
5. Soulet/Soucek/Abril (E/B/MC), Bentley Continental, + 1.107
6. Parente/Bell/Ledogar (GB/GB/F), McLaren 605s, + 1.117
7. Bamber/Estre/Vanthoor (NZ/F/B), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 1.206
8. Glock/Skaife/Longhurst/Ingall (D/AUS/AUS/AUS), BMW M6, + 1.427
9. Lieb/Long/Campbell/Calvert-Jones (D/USA/AUS/AUS), Porsche 911 GT3 R,
10. Taylor/Antunes/Barbour (AUS/AUS/AUS), Audi R8, + 1.612
The Bathurst 12 Hour is one of the world’s most spectacular sports car races and the first round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge. With the Mount Panorama Circuit on the outskirts, Bathurst, 200 kilometres west of Sydney at an altitude of 670 metres on the Macquarie River, is regarded as the “Home of Australian Motor Racing.” One of the peculiarities of the 1991-inaugurated race is that the start takes place in the dark at 5.45 in the morning. 54 vehicles from 14 automobile manufacturers compete in six different categories. Competing amongst them are 14 Porsche models; the 911 GT3 R, 911 GT3 Cup and Cayman GT4 Clubsport. The other events on the calendar of the 2017 Intercontinental GT Challenge are the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), the eight-hour race in Laguna Seca (USA) and the 12 Hours of Sepang (Malaysia).
The 6.213-kilometre Mount Panorama Circuit offers an extraordinary mix of 23 fast and slow corners. The picturesque rollercoaster track has gradients of up to 16 percent, with a 174-metre elevation variance between the Pit Straight and the Skyline, the highest and lowest points. The circuit runs counter clockwise. For most of the year the storied racetrack, built as a part of an employment relief effort in the 1930s, serves as a public road.
The Porsche drivers
The cockpit of the 911 GT3 R fielded by Walkinshaw GT3 with the starting number 911 is shared by Porsche works drivers Earl Bamber (New Zealand), overall Le Mans winner of 2015, Kévin Estre (France) as well as Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), the 2016 winner of the FIA GT World and the Intercontinental GT Challenge. They will contest the Top Class A-GT3 Pro-Pro. In the 911 GT3 R of Competition Motorsports (#12) their factory driver colleague Patrick Long (USA) joins forces with Marc Lieb (Germany), the 2016 outright winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours and the winner of the FIA World Endurance Championship, to tackle the Class A-GT3 Pro-Am. They are supported by two local aces, Porsche Junior Matt Campbell and David Calvert-Jones. Other Porsche customer teams also campaigning the 911 GT3 R are Craft Bamboo Racing (A-GT3 Pro-Pro), AMAC Motorsport (A-GT3 AM) and Walkinshaw GT3 with a second car (A-GT3 Am). Grove Motorsport, 2016 class winner with Earl Bamber, will line up to contest the Class B-GT3 with a 911 GT3 Cup.
The Porsche vehicles
The 911 GT3 R was designed by Porsche for worldwide GT3 series on the basis of the 911 GT3 RS production sports car. Mounted with the new ultra-modern, four-litre flat-six engine with direct fuel injection, the 368 kW (500 hp) customer sports racer celebrated its race debut in January 2016 at the Daytona 24-hour race. In its development, engineers put special emphasis on uncompromising lightweight design, improved aerodynamic efficiency, lower fuel consumption and even better driveability. Already in its maiden season, the 911 GT3 R celebrated many successes in international racing series, for example in the IMSA SportsCar Championship, the World Challenge, the ADAC GT Masters as well as the VLN Long Distance Championship Nürburgring on the demanding Nordschleife.
The Bathurst 12 Hour takes off on Sunday, 5 February, at 5:45 hrs local time (Saturday, 19:45 hrs CET). Outside Australia, the event can be viewed live on the Internet on www.bathurst12hour.com.au.
911 GT3 RS: Combined fuel consumption: 12,7 l/100 km; Combined CO2 emissions: 296 g/km