09 February 2017

2017 Bathurst 12-Hour

Mount Panorama, Bathurst Australia

Text/Photos: Motorsport Media

Ginetta_B12H_Dipper_55_AH_med Ginetta_B12H_Dipper_69_lights_AH_med  

5 February, 2017 – The Bathurst 12 Hour has a history for drama, and whilst there has been plenty of it in the 2017 running of the event, with what seems like an endless collection of Safety Car interventions, the two Ginetta G55 GT4s are continuing to run faultlessly – providing both the #55 team and the #69 team an opportunity to race at the front of the hotly contested Class C.

Off the start Sydney’s Peter Paddon led the #55 car away, enjoying a handful of clear laps battling his Class C rivals, before the GT3 cars used their incredible straight line advantage to catch the field and start lapping them. GT rookie Aidan Read did a sterling job in the #69 car despite limited laps to forge his way up to second ahead of the first pit stop, whilst Paddon pitted from third.

Read’s pace continued to improve, the 17-year old from Perth handing the car to Shinyo Sano in second position at the end of his double stint, the experienced Japanese driver running for just over 2.5-hours before pitting at the mid-point of the race to hand over the reigns to Malaysia’s Sepang 12-Hour star, Zen Low.

Frustratingly for the #69 car, whilst running with the leaders, it was forced to serve consecutive drive-through penalties for speeding in pit lane after a technical issue saw the pit-lane limiter fail to engage, catching Sano not once, but twice..! That put the team behind the eight ball, but with youngsters Jake Parsons and Aidan Read in to complete the final few hours of the race, there’s still everything to play for.

For the #55 car, Paddon was forced to endure a barrage of early traffic, and a number of contacts from the faster GT3 cars as they came through, however he still managed to pit from the top three, handing Berryman the car to carry on the fight.

Berryman completed back-to-back sessions, finding pace with every clear lap, before handing over to Simpson who immediately began to apply pressure to the leaders, regaining more than a lap before a sudden return to the pits after a tyre failure at terminal speed as Simpson tipped into the Chase at 240kph. That saw an immediate visit to the pits where Paddon jumped in just ahead of the half way point to continue the battle.

Mike Simpson, Ginetta Factory Driver: “The car’s awesome, no trouble at all, and outside of traffic we are capable of lapping in the teens. We’re gaining ground, and I think capable of pulling back a lot more time, but whilst I was hoping to do a few more laps, I had what we’ve discovered was a valve failure on the left rear as I turned into the Chase. It was a wild ride, but I kept it straight and had to come into the pits early. It’s a long race, and the car can carry on like this all day. We’re a long way from done!”

Aidan Read, Driver; “I had a great time in the cool conditions in the morning, and was able to improve my pace across the session. It was pretty intense with the faster cars, but if you kept your line and your confidence it was okay. I copped a couple of taps, but nothing serious. The car is great and I’m looking forward to getting back in.”

Shinyo Sano, Driver; “It was nice to finally get some good laps, in the end I drove two and a half hours which was a real challenge, but I was getting faster, and more and more comfortable with the circuit. As a former bike racer, I like the challenge of a circuit like Bathurst, it is very enjoyable. I had a couple of moments in the car, one of which was a car parked sideways across the circuit on a blind corner, the other finding the limiter over the top of ‘Skyline’ but apart from that, fantastic!”

For RA Motorsports Team Manager Chris Papadopolous, he admitted the pit-lane limiter issue was a frustration that he wasn’t immediately able to remedy, but that both cars were continuing to run flawlessly. “They’re perfect, faultless so far with the exception of the limiter issue, but the drivers are aware of that now, so it’s just a matter of pressing on. The pace is good, but the traffic a little testing at times, however all the drivers are keeping their noses clean, and we’re within striking distance of the front, so we just have to press on!”

6-Hours: 2017 Liqui Moly Bathurst 12-Hour Qualifying (Class C)

  1. Pilgrim/Braams/Viebahn/Moller/Madse (Porsche Cayman GT4) -131-laps
  2. McMillan/Wood/Enge/Kofler (KTM X-Bow GT4)
  3. Mason/Drinkwater (Porsche Cayman GT4) – 130-laps
  4. Simpson/Paddon/Berryman (Ginetta G55 GT4) – 129-laps
  5. Cowham/Kearns/Jarvis (Porsche Cayman GT4)
  6. Low/Sano/Parsons/Read (Ginetta G55 GT4)