The 2016 Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour has been won by the McLaren 650S GT3 of customer team Tekno Autosports in one of the hardest fought battles in the history of the event. On its debut outing at the iconic Mount Panorama, the 650S GT3 claimed the clean sweep over the course of the weekend with pole position, fastest lap, overall race win and a new lap record. The trio of Alvaro Parente, Shane Van Gisbergen and Jonathon Webb triumphed in the battle of strategies which saw five different manufacturers lead the race over the 12 hours.
A record-breaking qualifying session saw the overall pole position and a new lap record for Van Gisbergen and the Tekno Autosports team. Starting in the dark, the race set off at a quick pace with Van Gisbergen’s #59 650S GT3 retaining the lead and setting a strong pace in the opening stint. From here, the racing built on the excitement and expectations shown in the qualifying, and ensured the crowds were kept guessing right up until the chequered flag fell.
In clear air and with no traffic, Van Gisbergen opened up a strong lead in his opening stint, setting a new official course lap record of 2m 01.567s. The pitstop strategy saw the #59 650S GT3 maintain a top six position over the following few hours, with Factory Driver Parente and Tekno team owner Webb both ran consistently quick laps as the temperature increased. An electrical systems reset briefly brought the sprint to the flag to a halt on the start / finish straight, but the car was quickly back up and running with minimal time lost. The hard-charging second stint by Parente saw the Portuguese driver in the slipstream of the podium positions, and Webb maintained position before handing over to Van Gisbergen in P4 for the final stint. A well-calculated strategy call from the pitwall optimised the various Safety Car periods and a late drive through penalty, and the final call for fuel ensured that minimal time was lost and ensured the #59 lost the least amount of time, leapfrogging the leaders as they were forced to stop for fuel to ensure they would reach the finish. As the clock reached 12 hours, Van Gisbergen managed the gap to the chasing pack without taking any risks, crossing the line with a winning margin of 1.276 seconds.
The #60 Tekno car made a strong start with Factory Driver Rob Bell. Despite his lack of experience on the circuit in the dark, he was quickly up to P3 in the opening laps. Contact by one of the chasing pack under braking near the end of the lap did severe damage to the left rear of the white #60, and Bell nursed the car back to the pits and the Tekno team worked quickly to have him back out. This dropped him down the order, but consistent laps by Bell and Watson moved the car back up to a solid top 20 as three hours passed.
After the disappointing opening period of the race, the #60 has stayed out of trouble and worked a way back through the pack. Davison, Watson and Bell were four laps down on the lead pack due to the repair work, but soldiered on to finish in P9.
The Bathurst 12 Hour 2016. 297 laps, 174m elevation change, 37 cars, 23 corners, 12 hours, 2 McLarens, 1 race.
2016 Bathurst 12 Hour Results:
P1 – #59 TEKNO McLaren 650S GT3: Shane van Gisbergen, Jonathon Webb, Alvaro Parente
P9 – #60 TEKNO McLaren 650S GT3: Will Davison, Andrew Watson, Robert Bell