Back to Bathurst
Audi is aiming for more Bathurst silverware this weekend as it looks for win number four.
On the 10th anniversary of the brand’s first victory at Mount Panorama, Audi Sport is bringing out the big guns to extend its lead as the most successful manufacturer in the GT3 era.
Mark Bean, Sam Tinson and Mark Horsburgh
31 January, 2020
It’s times like these you reflect on just where the hell time has gone when it seems like only yesterday that the first Audi teams were lining up at Mount Panorama to contest the Bathurst 12 Hour race.
The year was 2011and GT3 cars were now a part of the 12 hour format Down Under, opening up the possibility of factory backed teams and an even greater range of exotic machinery doing battle at the country’s most iconic race track.
Audi fielded two cars that year, with an international line-up of Christopher Mies, Darryl O’young and Marc Basseng in one and local heroes Craig Lowndes, Warren Luff and Mark Eddy in the second R8 LMS.
The Australians demonstrated their local knowledge early, scoring pole position for the race, 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 10 years to follow.
The Australian drivers took pole position, but the international Audi drivers took the win
Terrible weather played a major part in the 2012 race
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 now famous livery, with the Australian drivers in what was known as the ‘spider car’ and the ‘internationals’ in ‘the flying kangaroo’ car.
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 the race, and ultimately led to the spider car being involved in an accident on the top of the mountain that ended its race. The Other Audi soldiered on, and though it was never clear sailing and there were plenty of heart-in-mouth moments, its was the flying kangaroo that endured to give Audi another victory.
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, a fourth win would be the perfect way to celebrate 10 years since that first Audi victory at Mount Panorama, and five Audi teams will set out to do just that. Among the, Christopher Mies who is looking for his third Bathurst 12 hour win, having clinched the first two for the brand. The wealth of experience he and his teammates bring to the event is extraordinary, but the competition is also world-class. There will be 11 brands in contention for outright victory over the weekend and as always, it will be a nail-biter right to the very finish.
This year, a fourth win would be the perfect way to celebrate 10 years since that first Audi victory at Mount Panorama
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