A Ferrari 458 GT3 has finished on the podium in the Armor All Bathurst 12 hour race.
But it was Singaporean Clearwater Racing Team that showed the way to the finish after the pace setting Australian Team Maranello Motorsport hit problems early on in the endurance race.
Clearwater Racing's Mok weng Sun and Irishman Matt Griffin were benefitted from the local knowledge of Australian motorsport legend Craig Baird and made a cautious start to their first Mt Panorama outing, choosing to set a solid, if not record breaking qualifying time and set a steady pace through the race.
Meanwhile Maranello Motorsport's star Allan Simonsen set a blistering pace from the start in his Ferrari 458 GT3, but a fuel miscalculation that saw him run out of fuel at the top of the mountain cost him the lead and then a faulty engine sensor put them out of the event, the team deciding that they had proven they have the pace to win in the 2012 Australian GT Series and they should repair the car so it is ready for the season opener.
"We had an unfortunate start, and yes it's disappointing to see the team leave with a DNF after the incredible efforts they've all put in," said Mark Coffey, Managing Director of Maranello Motorsport. "But with more than credible performances all weekend by each and every driver, but we can walk away knowing that the team can take it to the top and that the cause of an early finish wasn't in any way a reflection on the team's preparation or the commitment and skill of our drivers. This is simply the nature of this place!"
As the Maranello Team pulled into the pitlane for the final time, the rain came down and really did not let up for the rest of the race and, with grip at a premium, Clearwater Racing played a mature waiting game, watching rivals slide off the Mt Panorama track, letting them climb up the leader board as their Ferrari 458 GT3 performed perfectly for the 12 hour race around Bathurst.
"It's been an awesome experience," said Singaporean Mok weng Sun, 2011 Asian GT Champion, at the end of the race. "I was seriously scared in the final stint. We have rain back at home, but no mountains like this and this combined with the narrow track and the slower cars in the field made it an amazing challenge. That said, I really want to come back here again!"
The Clearwater Racing team was a blend pulled together for this race of Singaporeans, Australians, Italians and, in the shape of Matt Griffin, an Irishman.
"The way the team came together has been fantastic," Matt Griffin said at the end of the race. "Though I am not sure if they understood me as I shouted on the radio while sliding sideways in rain on the main straight! Seriously, though, we came here with the hope of a podium finish and that we achieved that is testament to the Ferrari 458 and the team. As for coming back, of course, this is an amazing race at a unique venue."
Completing the team was talented Australian driving legend, Craig Baird.
"Our goal was a podium, but this is, at the best of times, a tough place for drivers who have never experienced Bathurst," said Craig Baird. "But today, it was the worst of times and Matt and especially Mok weng Sun in the final stint, did an amazing job in the toughest conditions Mt Panorama can offer and I am extremely pleased to have been invited to be part of a fantastic team with a fantastic car."
2012 Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour - Final Results
1 Audi R8 C Mies/D O'Young/C Joens 270 laps
2 Mercedes SLS P Hackett/T Slade/B Curtis 270 laps
3 Ferrari 458 GT3 M Sun/C Baird/M Griffin 268 laps
4 Porsche 997 GT3 N Tinkler/ S Johnson/S Richards 254 laps
5 Porsche 997 GT3 S O'Donnell/B Nail/S McLennon 244 laps