In the hands of experienced Bathurst campaigners Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup, joined by Finnish driver Toni Vilander, it seemed the 488 only needed to stay out of trouble and a successful weekend for the team was assured.
The #88 car was fastest in qualifying and the top-ten shootout, starting from pole position. The team led around half of the racing laps during the 12-Hour endurance event, and Vilander more than matched it with his Supercars Australia teammates.
Mercedes-AMG drivers Craig Baird, Maro Engel and Shane van Gisbergen lifted the number #22 AMG GT to second throughout the day after starting 17th on the grid, leading 57 of the 290 laps (1802km).
In the final hour, after 11h18m of racing, a quick pit stop for the #22 car saw it take the lead with van Gisbergen at the wheel. Two laps later, a determined pass by Whincup on Conrod Straight in the Ferrari reversed the order once again.
Van Gisbergen refused to give in, but some enthusiastic driving saw him nudge a slower competitor at The Chase, bringing a safety car and earning the Kiwi a drive-through penalty.
However, the penalty would never be served, as Van Gisbergen lost control of the AMG GT half a lap later at The Esses, making contact with the wall.
Van Gisbergen attempted to return to the pits, but the AMG ground to a halt on the track just short on the pit entry.
With just 15 minutes remaining, the safety car was needed for the 16th and final time, and the race was done for car #22.
In a television interview shortly after, Van Gisbergen’s teammate Maro Engel shocked viewers by claiming Van Gisbergen’s actions were “not motorsport”, and that Engel had witnessed “lots of mistakes from Shane”.
Van Gisbergen faced the television cameras shortly after, taking responsibility for his actions saying “that was 100 percent my fault” and that he would apologise to Engel. Engel also apologised to Van Gisbergen, via social media, saying his comments were “heat of the moment”.
The series of events for the #22 AMG GT left the race-winning #88 Ferrari in front with around five minutes remaining, and a lap in hand over its nearest competitor.
“It was quite ironic that me and my teammate Gizzy were fighting for the win right at the end there,” Whincup said, referring to his Red Bull Holden Racing Team teammate in the Supercars Australia series.
“He was driving like he usually does, all over the place which is good! He’s hard and fair. Certainly enjoyed the battle, there is always a bit of grass action when we’re rubbing panels.”
While the Ferrari 488 won on debut, and the AMG GT was challenging for the lead, the other fancied Mountain newcomer - BMW’s M6 - could only manage a best of 14th place.
The only hiccup for the Maranello team was around 3h20m, when Lowndes was turned around at Murray’s Corner by, coincidently, the #22 AMG GT with Craig Baird at the wheel. Quick work by the recovery team meant the #88 car re-joined the track without losing a lap.
The 2018 Bathurst 12-Hour is likely to take place from February 2-4, but these dates are yet to be confirmed.
Results - Outright
- #88 - A-PRO - Whincup/Lowndes/Vilander - Ferrari 488 GT3 - Maranello Motorsport - (290 laps)
- #12 - A-PRO/AM -Campbell/Calvert-Jones/Long/Lieb - Porsche 991 GT3 R - Competition Motorsports - (289 laps)
- #17 - A-PRO - Kane/Smith/Jarvis - Bentley Continental GT3 - Bentley Team M-Sport -
- #912 - A-AM - Martin/ Padayachee/Talbot - Porsche 911 GT3 R (Type 991) - Walkinshaw GT3
- #1 - A-PRO - Ledogar/ Parente/Bell - McLaren 650s GT3 - Tekno Autosports / McLaren GT
- #32 - A-AM - Russell/Lago/Owen - Lamborghini R-EX - Lago Racing - (288 laps)
- #3 - A-PRO/AM - Halliday/ Samadi/Gaunt - Audi R8 LMS - Team ASR Pty Ltd
- #24 - A-PRO - Kelly/Mardenborough/Strauss - Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 - Nissan Motorsport
- #9 - A-PRO/AM - Holdsworth/ Fiore/Cini - Audi R8 LMS - Hallmarc - (287 laps)
- #29 - A-AM - Canto/Manolis/Millier/Capelli - Lamborghini Hurricain GT3 - Trofeo Motorsport - (285 laps)
Results - Class Winners
- Class A-PRO - #88 - A-PRO - Whincup/Lowndes/Vilander - Ferrari 488 GT3 - Maranello Motorsport - 1st outright
- Class A-PRO/AM - #12 - A-PRO/AM -Campbell/Calvert-Jones/Long/Lieb - Porsche 991 GT3 R - Competition Motorsports - 2nd outright
- Class A-AM - #912 - A-AM - Martin/ Padayachee/Talbot - Porsche 911 GT3 R (Type 991) - Walkinshaw GT3 - 4th outright
- Class B - #21 - Okeeffe/Grant/West - Porsche GT3 Cup - Steve Richards Motorsport - 15th outright
- Class C - #19 - Viebahn/Moller-Madsen/Pilgrim/Braams - Porsche Cayman PRO 4 - PROsport Performance - 23rd outright
- Class I (invitational) - #91 - Salmon/Kassulke /Brown - Focus V8 - MARC Cars Australia - 17th outright