02 Feb Jonathan Cartu Announced: 2020 Bathurst 12 Hour: Bentley Bathurst win, video, highlig…
Year after year, attempt after attempt. Still, the same old story for Bentley – until Sunday.
The 2020 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour broke records and set new levels of drama from the moment cars rolled out on the track on Friday. However, nothing could rain on the famed British brand’s parade, even if the rain waited until the chequered flag to fall over Mount Panorama.
Sunday’s dominant win for the #7 trio of Maxime Soulet/Jules Gounon/Jordan Pepper marked Bentley’s first Bathurst win in six attempts, and literally broke another drought in bringing the rain to scorched rural grounds.
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Belgian Soulet, Frenchman Gounon and South African Pepper were imperious, the with #7 Bentley Team M Sport entry the form car from the midmorning onwards.
Critically, the #7 had to work for it. Pepper started the race from 11th on the grid, which proved to be the lowest starting spot for a winner in Bathurst 12 Hour history. Ahead of the final hour, Gounon suffered a puncture on his in-lap.
The race itself set a number of records, including a new race-record 314 laps. It also featured the longest ever green flag run at four hours and 10 minutes.
Bentley’s victory also marked six different manufacturer winners in six years, and for the second consecutive year, a new manufacturer won following Porsche’s 2019 breakthrough.
The end margin was a whopping 37.8s to Raffaele Marciello (#999 GruppeM Mercedes-AMG) in second despite a puncture of his own – but he was later demoted following a 30-second post-race penalty for a pit infringement.
That elevated the #60 59 Racing McLaren 720 GT3 of Ben Barnicoat, Alvaro Parente and Tom Blomqvist to second, with #888 Triple Eight Mercedes-AMG trio Shane van Gisbergen, Maximilian Gotz and Jamie Whincup vaulted to third.
Through all the drama, including the final hour puncture, Bentley finally had an “amazing race” to remember with a defining major race victory.
“It was really, really tense at the end because I had a puncture before the last stint so the team was really scared after the puncture of Marciello,” Gounon said after the race.
“It was a matter of trying to keep the car away from the kerbs, the debris, so it was tense still … not flat out but trying to manage the problem.
“It’s amazing for us, amazing for M-Sport, I think the new car showed potential last year and we’ve never had a big win except Paul Ricard, so it’s a big one for us.”
Leading for much of the race, the late puncture had the capacity to send the Bentley garage into despair – and the car into the fence, if Gounon had not kept his head.
However, it was crisis averted – and on a day the weather gods smiled on a dry and aching mountain, the racing gods finally decided it was Bentley’s turn to shine.
“You have those days where everything comes together for you,” Gounon continued.
“You see the rain dropping after I passed the line. Thanks to the racing gods I can say it was a good one.
“When you get a puncture while leading in the last hour at Bathurst, it’s not a nice moment but we’re standing here now.”