Audi at The Mountain

The Bathurst 12 Hour has been a happy hunting ground for Audi Sport since the start of the GT era.

With three outright victories at the Bathurst 12 Hour, Audi is the most successful manufacturer in the GT3 era and the brand will be looking to build on that history at The Mountain this year.

Mark Bean, Mark Horsborough and Sam Tinson

16 February, 2024

It’s been called ‘the other Bathurst race’ – a gruelling 12 hour enduro to rival the traditional Bathurst 1000 with its traditional GM verses Ford battle, but with cars, drivers and teams from all over the world. Since adopting FIA GT3 rules back in 2011, a new era was born at The Mountain, and since that rebirth, Audi has become the most successful manufacturer from a veritable Who’s Who of motorsport stalwarts with three outright victories.

In 2023, Audi Sport will once again head to Bathurst looking to build on that tally. It’s been five years since Audi last won the race – four if you consider the 2021 instalment was cancelled because of the pandemic. 

Last year, a change of dates meant the Audi Sport teams from overseas weren’t able to contest the race, so this is the first opportunity the brand has had since 2020 to go on the hunt for more race silverware.

The brand’s run at The Mountain started in spectacular fashion in 2011 – the year the race was first run under international GT3 regulations.

Audi has been the most successful manufacturer at the race since the introduction of international GT3 regulations in 2011

The two Audi's were fast blindingly fast, taking first and second places on the grid for the start

Audi fielded two cars that year, with an international line-up of Christopher Mies, Darryl O’young and Marc Basseng in one car and local heroes Craig Lowndes, Warren Luff and Mark Eddy in the second R8 LMS.

The cars wore distinctive liveries which have also become a feature of Audi’s campaigns at Bathurst, with the ‘international’ car all black promoting Audi Top Service, and the ‘local’ team backed by the Audi national dealer network, in a distinctive green and gold livery with each of the dealer locations listed on the side.

The Australians demonstrated their local knowledge as soon as they hit the track, with blistering pace in practice and then qualifying, scoring pole position for the race. But their international teammates proved to be quick studies and took to Mount Panorama – calling it a ‘mini Nürburgring Nordschleife. 

Both Audis were fast from the predawn start, but at the end of 12 gruelling hours of racing, it was the international side of the Audi equation that crossed the line first. With the Australians hot on their heels, it was a classic one-two result for the brand and a prized victory for Audi – setting the stage for many more assaults on the Mountain in the years to follow.

An historic one-two for Audi Sport to open the brand's account at the Bathurst 12 Hour.
The drivers (LtoR) Marc Basseng, Christopher Mies, Darryl O’young, Craig Lowndes, Mark Eddy and Warren Luff.

The very next year Audi was back at Mount Panorama, again with a two car team and keen to repeat the result form the year before. The cars sported new, even more catching liveries, with the Australian drivers in what was known as the ‘spider car’ with a massive redback spider and web motif on the car and the ‘internationals’ in what has come to be known as ‘the flying kangaroo’ car for pretty obvious reasons.

The Australian line-up was unchanged from the year before, while the international car saw Christer Jöns replacing Marc Basseng.

Bathurst’s often changeable weather played a greater role in this race to the previous year, with heavy rain and fog throwing another challenge at the teams as they fought to repeat the one-two of the previous year.

Unfortunately for the Australians, it was the weather that ended their 2012 campaign, with rain and heavy fog across the top of the mountain reducing visibility to metres and ultimately leading a race-ending accident.

It was heartbreak for the Australia drivers who had been pushing to go one better than their international compatriots, and the pressure was now on the drivers of the kangaroo R8 LMS GT3 to defend the title. They maintained the pace through the deteriorating conditions and though it was never clear sailing and there were plenty of heart-in-mouth moments. But at the end of the 12 hours, its was the flying kangaroo that endured to give Audi another victory.

Weather and visibility were major factors the following year

Despite many close calls and agonisingly close finishes, it would not be until 2018 that the brand was once again on the top step of the podium

Despite many close calls and agonisingly close finishes, it would not be until 2018 that the brand was once again on the top step of the podium for outright victory. This time, it was Robin Frijns, Stuart Leonard and Dries Vanthoor who triumphed after a race that saw more than its fair share of safety cars and some serious accidents. Newcomers to the famed track they may have been, but that didn’t stop them beating some seasoned Bathurst competitors to the line to give Audi a record three Bathurst 12 Hour victories.

This year, four Audi R8 LMS cars will contest the race across Pro, Pro-Am and A- Silver categories. Qualifying gets underway tomorrow (Saturday) with the race on Sunday at 5:45am for early risers. All of the action can be seen on Fox Sport or the Seven Network throughout the weekend.

Winning in 2018, (from left) Dries Vanthoor, Stuart Leonard and Robin Frijns.