RECORDS BROKEN AT BATHURST 12 HOURS WITH NEW PIRELLI P ZERO DHF
After the fastest-ever qualifying for the Bathurst 12 Hours at Mount Panorama, round one of the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli, the top three fought all the way to chequered flag during the fastest race in the history of the Australian endurance classic. Despite covering a record 323 laps for a total of just over 2000 kilometres, the Sun Energy 1 Mercedes of Jules Gounon, Kenny Habul, and Luca Stolz crossed the line under a second ahead of the Manthey Porsche line-up of Matt Campbell, Mathieu Jaminet, and Thomas Preining, while the GruppeM Mercedes of Maro Engel, Mikael Grenier, and Raffaelle Marciello was third – with the top three covered by only 1.4 seconds. Bike legend Valentino Rossi went fastest in FP2 on his Bathurst debut with BMW before finishing sixth in the race with Augusto Farfus and Maxime Martin.
P ZERO DHF MAKES ITS BATHURST DEBUT
For the 20th edition of the endurance classic, Pirelli brought its P Zero DHF tyre to Bathurst for the first time (with 12 sets of tyres allocated per car for practice, qualifying, and the race). This tyre was introduced in Europe last year but made its debut in Bathurst, playing a key part in the fastest race in the GT3 history of the event. The DHF is quicker than the previous DHE, with better and more consistent performance across a stint length, over a wide variety of cars and track conditions. The latest hard compound DHF shattered the previous qualifying record from 2016 (set with a medium compound) courtesy of Engel.
RELIABILITY AS WELL AS SPEED
Part of the reason why the race was so fast was a very low number of safety car interventions, with green flag racing for more than four hours in the nail-biting closing stages. The reliability from the cars and the tyres was impressive: during the final stint the leading Mercedes driven by Gounon chose not to change tyres, but still held off the hard-charging Porsche that finished second. Habul was asked by TV interviewers at the finish: “What are you going to do with the tyres that come off the car now? They deserve something special.”
PIRELLI RACING ACTIVITY MANAGER MATTEO BRAGA
“This was one of the best races in Bathurst history: congratulations to Jules Gounon for his third win in a row and to all the drivers on the podium, who put on a fantastic show to make this a record-breaking spectacle. The new DHF tyres adapted quickly to the demands of Bathurst, underlining their raw speed in qualifying as well as their reliability on race day. With the race starting at 0545 and finishing in the afternoon, they had to cope with a difference of more than 20 degrees centigrade – from eight to 30 degrees centigrade – as well as a wide variety of strategies.”
A SPECTACULAR SHOW FROM PIRELLI
Nearly 55,000 spectators watched the event – another record – who also got the chance to see New Zealander Liam Lawson drive a Pirelli-equipped Red Bull F1 car around the 6.2-kilometre rollercoaster track, which he described as “the craziest thing I’ve ever done.” Pirelli has supplied the tyres for the Bathurst 12 Hours since 2017, with Gounon now joining an exclusive club of three-time Bathurst winners, while Mercedes pulls level with Audi in terms of overall Bathurst GT3 victories.
The Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli resumes for the Kyalami 9 Hour in South Africa from February 23-25, with the world’s most prestigious car brands represented once again.