NISSAN has won the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour for 2015, stealing the show thanks to a remarkable finish that saw Japanese driver Katsumasa Chiyo charge from third to first in the last two laps to deliver the brand their first Bathurst win since 1992.
The historic victory came in a day that saw a record-breaking 20 safety car interruptions and tales of drama and disappointment mixed with the usual heroic Bathurst performances every race at the famous track.
The winning Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 of Chiyo-san, Wolfgang Riep and Florian Strauss completed 269 laps and 1,671km today to deliver a famous victory to the Nissan brand the week they announced their return to LeMans.
Seven different brands finished in the top seven with Nissan leading home Audi, Aston-Martin, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari and Lamborghini finishing in that order.
Yet another Bathurst thriller went down to the wire following a late-race Safety Car that set up a 15-minute sprint to the flag.
Late race leader Matt Bell (Bentley Continental GT3) had fended off attack after attack from Audi R8 driver Laurens Vanthoor in the closing sprint and looked set to deliver the British brand a Bathurst victory on their first start at the Mountain since a race in 1948.
However they didn’t count on the flying Nissan who picked off lapped car after car following the penultimate restart to close the gap between their third place and the two dueling leaders.
The final Safety Car interruption was called with less than 10-minutes left for a stranded car in the Meguiar’s Murray’s corner sand trap – taking just one lap to recover.
With the three leaders line-astern for the subsequent restart and two-lap dash to the flag, a breathtaking restart saw Chiyo-san pass Vanthoor’s Audi into turn one.
He then disposed of the leading Bentley by using the Nissan GT-R’s stunning straight-line performance to draft past the Bentley and take the lead before turn two.
Chiyo then sprinted away in the closing laps to win by 2.4 seconds after another record-setting day on the Mountain.
The battle for second wasn’t over until the final flag, a charging Stefan Mucke the star of the show in the Craft-Bamboo Racing Aston Martin as he and Vanthoor’s Audi attacked the
Bentley on the final lap, both ultimately slipping past in a remarkable three-way final corner tussle.
The results saw three different brands represented on the Bathurst podium, the Vanthoor / Marco Mapelli / Markus Winkelhock Audi R8 followed narrowly home by the Craft-Bamboo Aston Martin driven by Mucke, Alex MacDowell and two-time race winner Darryl O’Young.
Bell’s Bentley was shuffled to fourth pace following the frantic finish, after a remarkable performance that saw their car work their way into contention throughout the day.
The cars raced at the back of the top-10 in the early stages before slowly creeping into contention in the second half of the race.
Bell and co-drivers Steven Kane and Guy Smith found themselves leading within the final hour of the race however just came up short in what remained a remarkable result on the brand’s Bathurst 12-hour debut.
A starring performance from Erebus’ Motorsport’s young-guns in the No. 36 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG GT3 saw them finish fifth – though enjoy a substantial share of the race lead throughout the day.
Richard Muscat, Jack LeBrocq and Dean Canto each led the race throughout the bruising day but didn’t quite have the pace to compete in the frantic race to the finish.
The Vicious Rumour Racing Ferrari 458 of Benny Simonsen, Andrea Montermini and Renato Loberto finished an outstanding sixth, the first car not on the lead lap at the end of the race.
After contending early before striking dramas, the front-row starting JBS Racing Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 of Roger Lago, David Russell and Steve Owen came from two laps behind to finish a solid 7th outright – the first finish for the team after four years of trying and plenty of bad luck.
Malaysian team Clearwater Racing (Mok Weng Sun, Toni Vilander and Matt Griffin) finished eighth with the second Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS Ultra 9th.
The Aussie-entered Audi R8 LMS Ultra driven by Christoper Mies, Marc Cini and Mark Eddy completed the top-10.
Canberra team Koundouris Racing scored a stunning victory in Century Batteries Class B – for Porsche GT3 Cup Cars.
Driven by Brothers James and Theo Koundouris, Marcus Marshall and Sam Power, the Cup S entry finished 16th outright following a race-long battle with rivals, Grove Racing.
The Grove Porsche – driven by owner Stephen Grove, Ben Barker and Luke Youlden – ended the day second in class despite bringing out the final safety car when they speared off into the sand in the final corner 10 minutes.
Donut King racing triumphed in the Ryges GT4 class, Tony Alford, Peter Leemhuis and Mark O’Connor completing 249 laps in their Lotus Exige GT4 and finishing 24th overall.
The Queensland BMW team headed by Beric Lynton topped GWS Personell Class D, Lynton, John Modystach and Robert Thomson finishing 27th overall in their BMW 1M.
The Australian designed and built MARC Focus driven by Adam Gowans, Ben Gersekowski and Gary Jacobsen won the Recaro Invitational Non Production class, finishing a remarkable 15th outright and in front of all bar a majority of the class A cars running at the finish.
34 of the 50 race starters finished the race, with high profile non-finishers including the Flying B Racing Bentley Continental driven by David Brabham, John Bowe and Peter Edwards.
The car was running inside the top-10 in the closing stages before contact with the No. 97 Aston Martin in the closing stages saw the car pushed into the wall at the Cutting in a hefty impact.
Brabham, behind the wheel at the time, was extricated from the car and taken to a nearby hospital for precautionary checks following the accident.
Event organisers announced a record three-day attendance of 32,297 people for this weekend’s event, up more than 6,600 people on 2014.