Three manufacturers in top three of an action-packed Bathurst 12 Hours, with Pirelli tyres providing perfect reliability
Three manufacturers completed the top three of an eventful Bathurst 12 Hours, with reigning Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup champions Robin Frijns and Stuart Leonard, joined by Dries Vanthoor, winning one of the world’s most famous endurance races in their Audi R8 LMS. The entire field was fitted with Pirelli P Zero tyres, exclusively equipping the Intercontinental GT Challenge, which began in Australia.
Three different cars in a closely-fought top three, same P Zero tyres The winning Audi was followed by a Mercedes AMG GT3: incredibly just 1.5 seconds behind. The third-placed Porsche, only 30 seconds behind the winner, made it three manufacturers in the top three. Despite these very different vehicle architectures and dynamics, the same Pirelli P Zero GT tyres performed equally well on all of them, helping to deliver an incredibly exciting and closely-fought race. The same tyres were also fitted to the GT4 cars and local V8 machinery that were additionally eligible for the race. Pirelli P Zero tyres for the road offer the same sporting emotions for an equally wide variety of supercars, underlining the company’s famed track to road philosophy.
Excitement and incidents on the track, perfect reliability from the tyres In total there were 16 safety cars for various incidents throughout the 12 hours, as well as drama with late changes of lead and a huge accident that caused the race to be stopped 20 minutes early. The victim of the accident, Ash Walsh, is expected to make a full recovery and actually won the Am class despite his Audi being destroyed. Despite all the incidents, the Pirelli tyres proved to be perfectly reliable, allowing the drivers to maximise every opportunity that presented itself on the six-kilometre Mount Panorama circuit, with its 23 corners. The first corner is called ‘Hell Corner’, and that sets the tone for the rest of the lap…
Strategy at the forefront Strategy was at the forefront during the 12 hours with the drivers aiming to minimise the number of pit stops (dictated by the need to refuel rather than change tyres) and make the most of the numerous safety car periods. Because of this, the final part of the race consisted of drivers trying to stretch out the fuel window. “We were actually hoping for a safety car at the end,” said Frijns. “Without that, I don’t think we would have made it on fuel. We were fine for tyres.”
The best GT drivers in the world The opening race of the four-round Intercontinental GT Challenge, designed as the ultimate global competition for motorsport’s leading GT drivers, featured the highest-quality field ever seen, with factory drivers from the world’s most desirable automotive brands: most of which also use Pirelli tyres as original equipment for the road. The top seven all finished on the same lap (lap 271) and there were three overall Le Mans winners in the top six.
Intercontinental GT Challenge infographic
From Pirelli’s point of view Matteo Braga, racing activity manager: “Bathurst again delivered on its reputation for being one of the most challenging and action-packed endurance races on the international calendar. From a tyre perspective, our P Zero slicks functioned perfectly on a very wide variety of cars and layouts, from rear-engined GT3 to front-engined V8, and proved to be user-friendly for both professional and amateur drivers. Grip levels as always were quite variable on different parts of the track, with a wide range of ambient temperatures during the 12 hours. Despite this moving target we saw one of the most fiercely-contested races to have ever taken place in Bathurst. The pace was such that the fastest lap in the race was close to that in qualifying despite the fuel load, and the different strategies and number of safety cars meant that until the final hours, all the manufacturers had cars in the top 10 and in contention for the win.”
What’s next? The next round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge is the famed Spa 24 Hours from July 26-29. Part of the Blancpain GT Series as well, Spa will once more attract the top GT3 drivers in the world, on what is widely reckoned to be the most epic circuit on the calendar, characterised by variable weather and plenty of elevation changes.
For more information about the race, please visit: www.bathurst12hour.com.au For more information about the four rounds of the SRO-promoted Intercontinental GT Challenge, please visit: www.intercontinentalgtchallenge.com
Please find attached an infographic that sets out details of the 2018 Intercontinental GT Challenge, which is copyright-free for editorial use throughout the year. For further information about Pirelli, please contact Anthony Peacock on +44 (0)7765 896 930 or firstname.lastname@example.org