This weekend marked the final race ever for factory-supported 911 GT3Rs, and the first win for Porsche at the Bathurst 12 Hour. In winning the Bathurst 12, Porsche is on track for an incredible Intercontinental GT Challenge season. Factory racer Dirk Werner partnered with a pair of Porsche Young Professionals to take the win, Aussie Matt Campbell and Norwegian Dennis Olsen. The trio raced for EMB, a brand new team owned by factory racer and Le Mans winner Earl Bamber. The team performed well all day, but it was Matt Campbell's astonishing and heroic final stint that really punctuated the race and brought home the trophy. Campbell moved from fourth to the lead in the final half-hour on fresh tires, and it was an absolute masterclass.
The other EMB car, driven by Romain Dumas, Sven Muller, and Mathieu Jaminet, was within sight of joining its sister car on the podium, running at the front for long periods. With three hours to go in the race, however, the car suffered a power steering failure and was forced to come into the pits for lengthy repair, ultimately retiring.
In the Class B for Porsche GT3 Cup racers, Grove Racing took a comfortable lights-to-flag victory. Ben Barker partnered with the father-son team Stephen and Brenton Grove to win ahead of the Carrera Cup Asia squad.
In order to get a feel for just how impressive Campbell's drive was in the final hour, you simply must watch it.
The old-spec GT3 R has been quite the successful unit for Porsche, as it took an overall victory at the Nurburgring 24-hour, as well as a handful of international championships. It served well, and was relatively easy for privateers and gentleman drivers to learn and get up to speed. The new GT3 R made its debut at Daytona last weekend for the 24 Hour, but have not quite yet been delivered down under. The new GT3 R will have its time to shine in the Intercontinental GT Challenge from the next round at Laguna Seca for the California 8 Hour on March 31st.
Comments on the race
Fritz Enzinger (Vice President Motorsport): “What a banner day for Porsche Motorsport. Congratulations to all drivers and particularly to the team principal, Earl Bamber, who has impressed me greatly with his fortitude and meticulousness over the years. Earl is not only a world-class racing driver, he’s also a top team boss. He underlined this today. It’s perfect that the fledgling EMB team has handed us the first victory at Bathurst at the swan song of the Porsche 911 GT3 R after three very successful years. Now we are looking forward to the second race of the season at Laguna Seca. We aim to bring home the next win with the new car.”
Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Factory Motorsport): “We still had some unfinished business at Bathurst, and now it’s settled. For our proven Porsche 911 GT3 R to win at its last major race, we couldn’t have dreamed for a more wonderful finish. I take my hat off to our drivers, who had to fight in sweltering heat. And we mustn’t forget the customer team Earl Bamber Motorsport. This was the first race at this level for EBM, they tackled it with a top-class, experienced crew and promptly won. This could be the first chapter of an epic story. We look forward to further joint outings. Now we’re looking ahead and preparing ourselves for the next two big events for Porsche Motorsport: the doubleheader in Sebring with the WEC and IMSA and the next round of the IGTC in Laguna Seca.”
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager 911 GT3 R): “This finale was breathtaking. We focussed our entire race strategy on this last stint. The team prepared for it perfectly, and the drivers implemented it perfectly. At the end we fitted fresh tyres, filled the tank and put Matt Campbell in the car – then full attack to the finish line. This victory at the last big race is a fair reward for the very successful Porsche 911 GT3 R. Such a farewell before the car heads into the Museum rounds off the success story perfectly. The EBM team did a sensational job, as well. The squad was put together at short notice with unflagging commitment and great meticulousness. The fact that they promptly scored a victory is phenomenal and a consequence of the professional work.”
Earl Bamber (Team Principal EBM): “We only began putting the team together at the beginning of December. Since then we’ve invested a huge amount of work into this project – not just me, but my brother Will and many other supporters, as well. Our goal was to be able to offer the drivers two equal cars at the very highest level. We succeeded. The No. 911 led over long stretches but then fell back. But we had a second iron in the fire. The No. 912 stepped up to the mark. What Matt achieved in his last stint is film worthy. The fact that we now send this car into the Museum with a victory makes it all the more emotional. I’m completely over the moon.”
Matt Campbell (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912): “I knew without doubt in the finale where the strengths of our car lay – and I then used them consequently. I eyed up my competitors, I made my overtaking moves resolutely and never backed off. That was an important key to this victory and I’m overjoyed. Bathurst is a legendary race, and it’s my home race. It was the first GT3 race for Earl Bamber’s team. To win at the first outing and in this manner is simply brilliant.”
Dirk Werner (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912): “This is a great victory. I’ve waited a long time for such a success at a major race. There are so many special stories from this race. It was the maiden GT3 race for Earl’s team, it was the last race for the Porsche 911 GT3 R and not least there was Matt Campbell’s performance, he really turned up the heat at the end. It was an incredible achievement from everyone involved. I’m absolutely thrilled.”
Dennis Olsen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912): “Incredible! That one word actually sums it all up. We all worked hard for this win. Ultimately, it was about Matt’s performance in the final stint. How he fought for the lead was nothing less than amazing. I still can’t quite put my feelings into words. I guess it first has to all sink in.”
Romain Dumas (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “We were fast, constant and strategically well positioned with our Porsche 911 GT3 R. I drove a double stint early this morning with one set of tyres. That would have given us the benefit of fresh tyres at the end. Unfortunately we couldn’t reap the rewards of the entire team’s hard work. The fact that something breaks at such a gruelling long distance race is simply part of racing. You can’t do anything about that.”
Brenton Grove (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup #4): “We did a flawless job. There’s not one scratch on our car after twelve hours of racing. And that’s exactly what makes the difference in this race. We were totally concentrated, we simply let the heavy GT3 traffic go, and got the most of our car in the gaps that appeared. That’s how you score a class win at Bathurst.”
1. Werner/Olsen/Campbell, Porsche 911 GT3 R #912, 312 laps
2. Dennis/Vaxiviere/Kirchhöfer, Aston Martin #62, 312 laps
3. Buhk/Marciello/Götz, Mercedes #999, 312 laps
16. Grove/Grove/Barker, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup #4, 299 laps
19. Tresidder/v.d. Drift/ Bao/Hamprecht, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup #23, 279 laps
DNF Dumas/Müller/Jaminet, Porsche 911 GT3 R #911, 234 laps
DNF Studderd/Fillmore/Muscat, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup #43, 134 laps
DNF Estre/Evans/Calvert-Jones, Porsche 911 GT3 R #12, 37 laps