Mercedes-AMG lead the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour at one-third’s distance of the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli season opener.
Team Craft-Bamboo Black Falcon’s Gary Paffett continued the good work of Luca Stolz who started second but worked his way past GruppeM’s Maxi Buhk during the second hour.
Both had run nose-to-tail with the two M-Sport Bentleys, Team Valvoline Audis and BMW Team Schnitzer M6 prior to the third Safety Car period, after which alternative strategies scrambled the order.
Indeed, a stellar stint from Martin Tomcyzk - whose co-driver Chaz Mostert started 15th - helped move the #42 BMW up to second, while KCMG’s #35 Nissan also made steady progress from ninth to third in the hands of Tsugio Matsuda.
Kelvin van der Linde also starred, although Audi’s strategy currently sees Garth Tander run seventh behind fellow Supercars ace Craig Lowndes (Triple Eight Mercedes-AMG) but ahead of current fastest lap holder Jules Gounon and his Bentley team-mate Andy Soucek.
The pole-sitting #999 Mercedes-AMG also remains a threat despite currently running 13th.
Porsche made a low-key start to the race even if EBM’s #912 remains a contender in fifth. However, their #12 Intercontinental GT Challenge-registered entry was an early retirement following David Calvert-Jones’ accident at the top of the Mountain.
Ferrari’s chances were also dented by HubAuto Corsa’s accident at The Elbow. The #27 is back in the race after lengthy repairs.
Watch the race live right here on the Intercontinental GT Challenge website.