It was go-time down in Australia for the Manthey Racing team and the final official outing of the 991.2-generation 911 GT3 R this weekend as the Grello Porsche came home in second place, just 0.9 seconds off the winning Mercedes-AMG GT3. Matt Campbell, Mathieu Jaminet, and Thomas Preining came together to put on a show. The Manthey Racing car spent the entire race fighting for the top step of the podium, running a fuel strategy race and keeping the car out of trouble in what would become the fastest and longest distance Bathurst 12 Hour in history, covering more than 2,000 kilometers. It all came down to Matt Campbell in the seat in the final hour, hounding the back of the leading car for ages, keeping the car within a second and a half for over twenty minutes of racing to the checkered flag. Ultimately he never got close enough to make a move on the lead, but the team truly left it all out there on the table.
Manthey was still using the 991.2-generation car because the new 992—which made its debut at the Daytona 24 last weekend—hasn’t been homologated for Intercontinental GT Challenge competition quite yet. Barring any difficulties with shipping and production, the 992 should be ready for the next round of the series, the Kyalami 9 Hour race in South Africa later this month. This, then, would be the final send-off for the 991.2 car, a car that has brought lots of success for the brand, and Manthey as well.
The final hour of the Bathurst was an incredible fight. This was all brought about because of a faulty modem in the leading and pole-sitting AMG GT3 of Maro Engel, which stopped transmitting data to race control. The team was forced to make a long pit stop from the lead, setting up a strong fight between the top three. The Sun Energy 1 Racing Mercedes opted not to take tires on its final stop in order to maintain track position over Engel and Campbell. Fighting angry, Maro Engel decided to push the envelope a little too far and forced a collision with the Sun Energy car, earning himself a drive-through penalty and pushing the leading Mercedes down about five seconds, allowing Campbell to catch up quite a lot of time. Once the penalty was served, Engel rejoined in third, where he would finish, just six tenths of a second behind Campbell in the Porsche. It was a good old scrap down in Oz, and I recommend watching that final hour if you want to see some good strong racing from some seasoned pros.
Porsche has only won this race one time, back in 2019 with Earl Bamber Motorsport. This is probably the only major international endurance race that Porsche doesn’t have a stranglehold on the overall win record. Their countrymen Mercedes and Audi have won this race three times each, while BMW and Ferrari have two victories, and Mazda won four times on the trot in the nineties! Porsche is really going to have to up their game to get some more wins at this race. In all, it went pretty well for the Porsche team, and any one of the top three could have won if things had gone slightly differently. It was a pretty killer event.