The previous record for the most pre-race withdrawals at the Bathurst 12 Hour was four. Ahead of this year’s race, we’ve had five so far.
This year’s event on the punishing Mount Panorama circuit has been incident packed, with multiple heavy incidents on Friday and Saturday, resulting in multiple teams packing away early.
KCMG’s No. 35 Nissan GT-R was the first of the cars deemed too damaged to repair, Josh Burdon’s shunt at Reid Park in FP1 enough to reduce the Hong Kong-based team’s effort to a single car.
Today a further four cars had their weekends ended through the final practice session and the two qualifying sessions that set the table for the Top 10 Shootout that decides pole.
In Practice 5 there were two big offs at the end of the session, the HubAuto Corsa Ferrari coming off worse after Daniel Serra lost control of the 488 GT3 going through McPhillamy Park, missing the tire wall and side-swiping the concrete wall further down the road. The damage was heavy, the team knowing soon after it returned to the garage that it was game over.
Thankfully the second incident didn’t rob us of a third car before qualifying began, the damage to the No. 8 Bentley after Oliver Jarvis’ off at The Chase repairable. Jarvis told RACER that the brakes failed on him, prompting him to pitch the car sideways to reduce the damage upon impact. The M-Sport mechanics, who have had their work cut out for them all week after woes on Friday’s running for both cars, will again have to work overtime to get the No. 8 out for the race.
In Qualifying 1 and 2, the carnage continued. With the trackside temperature close to 40 degrees celsius/104 fahrenheit, the cars have all been strangled in the power department and struggling for peak grip at the fast corners. These factors, plus some mistakes from drivers have eliminated a further three cars.
The first was the No. 777 Bend Motorsport Park Mercedes, which was hit from behind under braking into The Esses, sending Sam Shahin flying into the marshall post on driver’s right and back across the track. The car was then clipped at full speed by the No. 92 Racer Industries MARC II of Tyler Everingham, which subsequently went head-on into the wall on the way down the Esses.
Both cars had their front-ends destroyed, and in the case of the No. 777, part of its rear end, too. Neither will make the start.
A team spokesperson from Bend Motorsport Park told RACER that it was game over. Shahin meanwhile is awaiting an air transfer to a hospital in Adelaide.
In Q2, Marvin Kirchofer was the next driver to get caught out, the German in the No. 62 R-Motorsport Aston Martin hitting the wall at The Grate, sending him backwards at full speed into the wall on driver’s right, which subsequently tipped the car onto the barriers and into a barrel roll.
The team confirmed that Kirchhofer is OK after the huge wreck, but the car is a write-off. Although it released a statement confirming the retirement, RACER understands that the team is continuing to try and source a replacement chassis.
The final incident came at the end of Q2, this time the Trofeo Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Dean Canto going backwards into the barriers at McPhillamy Park, launching the car into the air and onto the grass verge in front of the spectators.
Dean Canto’s teammate Marcell Zalloua spoke to RACER after the session while mechanics and Canto were hard at work on repairing the car. Its status remains an unknown.
“It was a weird accident,” he said. “Dean is OK — stiff, but OK enough to help the guys out. We are still diagnosing the damage to the car, but are hopeful we can get it out for the race. It’s going to be a long night for the boys.”
Renger van der Zande, who is here racing a Honda NSX GT3, summed it up best: “Everyone needs to calm down!”