Craig Lowndes has hung on in the Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 during a drama-filled final 12 minutes to win the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour for the Maranello Motorsport team.
The winning margin was just 0.41 seconds back to Max Buhk in the #84 HTP Mercedes. Third place was claimed by the #63 Erebus Mercedes who had to fend off a charging Shane van Gisbergen in the #37 McLaren.
In P5 was Laurens Vanthoor in the #3 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS Ultra, the final car on the lead lap. A total of 296 laps were completed a new distance record for the Bathurst 12 Hour race.
A grandstand finish was guaranteed on lap 288 after the #67 Porsche went into the wall on the top of the mountain forcing the Safety Car on track to allow track marshals to move car and driver to safety.
It was the ninth Safety Car period for the race it pulled into pit lane with 12 minutes left on the clock. Lowndes held the lead from Buhk, Davison and van Gisbergen.
While those positions didn’t change the drama and excitement went through the roof. It was a two-stage race with Lowndes and Buhk dicing, while Davison and van Gisbergen fought over the final podium step.
Bathurst rookie Max Buhk gave his Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 every chance to win trying twice to overtake Lowndes around the outside of Lowndes at Griffins Bend. Lowndes showed immense composure to hold his line and defend his position.
Meanwhile van Gisbergen was doing all he could to get past the leading Erebus Mercedes but had to contend himself with P4. That late splash and dash for the McLaren proved to take away its chance for victory.
As you can imagine the Maranello Motorsport team was overjoyed at the win with Craig Lowndes joined by fellow drivers John Bowe, Mika Salo and Peter Edwards on the podium. The entire team paying tribute to fallen teammate Allan Simonsen.
And with that dramatic and final result the Bathurst 12 Hour race delivered not only an exciting sprint to the line but also a sentimental victory that nobody can deny.
2014 Bathurst 12 Hour – Top 5
- #88 Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 – 296 laps
- #84 HTP Motorsports Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 – +0.4138s
- #63 Erebus Motorsport Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 – +2.4025s
- #37 VIP Holdings McLaren 12C GT3 – +3.0541s
- #3 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS Ultra – +36.9483s
[Timing screen via Natsoft]