Tough day at the office
A class win, fastest race lap and fourth outright for Audi teams after a tough Bathurst 12 Hour.
Despite dominating qualifying, the Audi teams were denied a fourth outright win at The Mountain over the weekend, but the #47 Supabarn team pulled off an extraordinary comeback,to clinch another class win against all the odds.
16 May, 2022
In the #74 car, van der Linde set the fastest laps of the race, but without an extended safety car period, the lap down could not be recovered
It was a weekend of mixed results and mixed emotions for the Audi teams at the 2022 Bathurst 12 Hour, with the sorts of highs and lows that only endurance racing can deliver. For the professional teams it was a dream start with a disappointing conclusion on Sunday, while for the #47 Supabarn entry, it was a devastating start to the weekend after a serious accident on Friday, but one which they managed to turn into victory.
The Audi’s were blindingly quick from the very start of practice and throughout qualifying. Audi Sport drivers Kelvin van der Linde and Ricardo Feller very much hit the ground running posting some of the fastest times of qualifying, while reigning TCR champion and Bathurst 1000 champion, Chaz Mostert, was likewise a pace setter, ultimately clinching the brand’s record fourth pole position in Saturday’s Top 10 Shootout.
That same speed carried on into the race itself, and while Mostert and his co-drivers in the #65 Coinspot were right at the pointy end of the pack from the outset, the car ultimately succumbed to mechanical issues and had to be retired at the eight hour mark.
The Audi Sport Team Valvoline entry #777 of Ricardo Feller, Yasser Shahin and Markus Winkelhock also enjoyed a share of the lead during the race, but after two penalties and a puncture, ultimately slipped back in the standings to finish seventh.
Their sister car, #74 remained in the fight and not just on the pace, but setting it throughout the race. Audi Sport driver, Kelvin van der Linde got faster as the race progressed, putting on an impressive display as he eclipsed his own fastest lap with each successive lap even in the closing stages of the race. But even with his consistent run of speed, an earlier two-minute time penalty for a driver timing infringement which put the #74 entry a lap down was a deficit which couldn’t be made up, with the car crossing the finish line in fourth outright.
Meanwhile, for the privateer entry of brothers James and Theo Koundouris, the start to the weekend couldn’t have been more different. The long-time Audi R8 campaigners from Canberra had a horror start when Theo had a heavy impact with the wall during practice on Friday. Fortunately he was able to walk away from the accident, but the car was severely damaged and the prospect of even starting the race on Sunday was very much in doubt.
A gargantuan effort by Melbourne Performance Centre which looks after Audi Sport customer racing in Australia, saw a spare chassis brought from Melbourne and the race was on to prepare the new car for the race.
That the car was ready to race was a victory in itself and a testament t to the efforts of Melbourne Performance Centre and all those in Team Supabarn, but the best was yet to come.
With Theo ruled out after the accident, the driving duties fell to the remaining three members of the team, with brother James and co-drivers Dave Russell and Paul Stokell turning what had looked like disaster and disappointment into a clear victory in the AM category and ninth outright.
This was the third class victory for James Koundouris in the Bathurst 12 having also won in class at Mount Panorama in 2018 and 2015.
“Congratulations to Team Supabarn and the Melbourne Performance Centre entry team on this well-deserved class win,” said Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing at the end of a gruelling race. “Our privateer drivers mastered a great effort in particularly difficult conditions. Hats off to this performance. At the end, there were five Audi cars in the top 10 but we would have loved to fight for our fourth victory here. We had the pace for it.”
Congratulations to all of the teams that took part in the Bathurst 12 Hour over the weekend and to Mercedes for securing their first win in the race.
It was an outstanding class victory in trying conditions without even factoring in the superhuman effort to get the car ready for the race
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