The 2016 Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour has been won by the McLaren 650S GT3 of customer team Tekno Autosports in one of the hardest fought battles in the history of the event. On its debut outing at the iconic Mount Panorama, the 650S GT3 claimed the clean sweep over the course of the weekend with pole position, fastest lap, overall race win and a new lap record. The trio of Alvaro Parente, Shane Van Gisbergen and Jonathon Webb triumphed in the battle of strategies which saw five different manufacturers lead the race over the 12 hours.
A record-breaking qualifying session saw the four examples of the 650S GT3 qualify within the top six, with pole position in the Pro-Am class for customer team Objective Racing and overall pole position and a new lap record for Van Gisbergen and the Tekno Autosports team. Starting in the dark, the race set off at a quick pace with Van Gisbergen’s #59 650S GT3 retaining the lead and setting a strong pace in the opening stint. From here, the racing built on the excitement and expectations shown in the qualifying, and ensured the crowds were kept guessing right up until the chequered flag fell.
In clear air and with no traffic, Van Gisbergen opened up a strong lead in his opening stint, setting a new official course lap record of 2m 01.567s. The pitstop strategy saw the #59 650S GT3 maintain a top six position over the following few hours, with Factory Driver Parente and Tekno team owner Webb both ran consistently quick laps as the temperature increased. An electrical systems reset briefly brought the sprint to the flag to a halt on the start / finish straight, but the car was quickly back up and running with minimal time lost. The hard-charging second stint by Parente saw the Portuguese driver in the slipstream of the podium positions, and Webb maintained position before handing over to Van Gisbergen in P4 for the final stint. A well-calculated strategy call from the pitwall optimised the various Safety Car periods and a late drive through penalty, and the final call for fuel ensured that minimal time was lost and ensured the #59 lost the least amount of time, leapfrogging the leaders as they were forced to stop for fuel to ensure they would reach the finish. As the clock reached 12 hours, Van Gisbergen managed the gap to the chasing pack without taking any risks, crossing the line with a winning margin of 1.276 seconds.
All four of the 650S GT3s were in contention at various points, with the #60 car of Bell, Davison and Watson running P3 before the charge was brought to an unforced end after sustaining damage when one of the chasing pack misjudged an overtaking manoeuvre. The damage was quickly repaired by the Tekno Autosport pitcrew, and despite losing four laps to the leaders, the team managed to recover to finish P9 overall.
The two 650S GT3 Pro-Am entries both led the highly competitive class with Objective Racing pushing for the overall race lead with the #11 car as the sun rose over the mountain. Contact with the barrier brought an early end to the team’s race in but not before showing the true potential of a well set up car around the 6.213km circuit. The Darrell Lea / Keltic Racing #37 650S GT3 also proved itself to be a contender for the overall podium, running as high as second. With experience of the track and racing a McLaren at the Bathurst 12 Hour previously, the trio of father and son Tony and Klark Quinn alongside Craig Baird ran a clean race and bold strategy to build a four lap advantage in the Pro-Am class before an unforced error pushed the car off track and unable to rejoin.
The result, at one of the world’s toughest endurance events, marks the continued success for the 650S GT3 which has become a true contender at the highest levels of GT racing across the world.