The fourth hour of racing at the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour began with a great scrap between the leading three cars, headed by the #1 Erebus Mercedes, the #37 McLaren 12C and the #3 Audi R8.
Sadly for the Audi a right rear puncture sent it into the pits for an unscheduled stop. Meanwhile the leading two cars were nose to tail for several laps and try as he might Shane van Gisbergen could only take the lead when the #1 car went into the pits.
A Safety Car was called out after Ross Lilley driving the #48 Lamborghini, the previous lap record holder, made room for the leading pair to pass him across the top of the mountain. Alas the driver lost traction where the #33 Clearwater Ferrari crash happened and smashed into the wall. It was a heavy impact and crucially Lilley appears to be okay.
Back in the lead of the race van Gisbergen emerged around 24 seconds behind the #1 Mercedes after his pit stop and went about the business of reeling in the leader.
On lap 94 Shane van Gisbergen showed the blistering pace of the 12c GT3 when lowered the race lap record to 2:04.0408 in the #37 McLaren 12C GT3. Four laps later he lowered it again to 2:03.8506, bettering yesterday’s pole position time.
When van Gisbergen inevitably caught Bernd Schneider in the Mercedes we saw one of the most exciting periods of racing witnessed at Bathurst as the pair sliced their way through traffic. Eventually the experience of Schneider came to the fore and he let the charging McLaren overtake.
Van Gisbergen then showed some amazing courage and made some aggressive moves to pass slower traffic and at one stage very nearly put himself into the wall.
And then it was all for nothing. The lead pair came into the pits on the same lap and a more efficient stop from the Erebus crew gained 10 seconds on the McLaren as both cars changed drivers. Maro Engel now in the Mercedes regained the lead ahead of Andrew Kirkaldy in the McLaren.
A long period of green flag conditions followed as the race settled with the #1 Mercedes maintaining its race lead. With full fuel tanks the SLS AMG GT3 seems to have the pace on the McLaren, which was able to gain time on the leader as the next stop for fuel drew near.
Late in the sixth hour Nico Bastian, fresh into the #1 Erebus Mercedes, went off track across the top of the mountain and into the kitty litter. Luckily for Bastian he was able to rejoin the track without losing track position and only some minor damage to the right rear bodywork.
The #45 Porsche went spearing across the track after entry into the Chase, coming to a stop and brought out the Safety Car and the seventh hour began under a full course yellow with 144 laps completed.
The sole remaining Ferrari, the #88 Maranello Motorsport entry, is in third place and is the only other car on the lead lap.