Despite looking strong for the first eight hours of the event, the Erebus Motorsport number 1 SLS AMG GT3 could not defend its title from last year, finishing seventh and five laps down after lengthy repairs to the rear of the car.
A better day was had by the number 63 ‘Aussie’ Erebus SLS, finishing on the podium in third place, just ahead of the number 37 Darrell Lea McLaren MP4-12C, which was the surprise-performer of the day.
“We didn’t change brakes, [the car] was fading, but it was ok,” Lowndes said.
“Had to give it a couple of pumps going into The Chase, very thankful the time ran out and we didn’t have to do another lap. I was doing my best, running on the inside lines, making the Merc go around the long way, thankfully we had enough.”
Salo dedicated the win to the late Allan Simonson, saying “this one is for Allan, there is nothing else to say, we miss him all, this one is for him.”
The win marks the first 12-Hour victory for Lowndes, Salo and Edwards, and the third for John Bowe.
The event saw its usual level of competitor attrition, with several entrants failing to make the start line, and only 28 of the 42 starters greeting the chequered flag.
After just five laps, the JBS Lamborghini collided with a kangaroo in the early morning light, continuing a run of bad luck for the team at the 12-Hour, spanning several years.
The Clearwater Racing Ferrari 458 and fan-favourite Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 saw their races come to a spectacular end after 2h25m, with a collision at the top of ‘The Mountain’ causing major damage.
Even the races of the second- and third-placed Mercedes SLS entries weren’t without incident, with the number 84 car losing two laps early on during a lengthy pit-stop, and the number 63 car carrying significant front-end damage for most of the race.
Hot weather and the newly-resurfaced track were the weekend’s other talking points, with the air temperature topping 36.3 degrees on race-day.
In total, 296 laps were covered by the winner, with five cars on the lead lap at the conclusion of the race. More than 1835km were clocked-up in the 12 hours, with the 1000km mark reached during the seventh hour.
Following rain-effected events in 2012 and 2013, the 2014 race was run in dry and hot conditions for its entirety, with the safety car required on nine occasions; six less than last year.
As expected, a Porsche took out Class B, with the Grove Group 997 GT3 Cup finishing eighth overall. The Lamborghini Gallardo driven by Eric Bana and teammates Hill and Middleton in Class B finished fifth in class and 13th overall.
In Class F, the Fiat 500 Abarths crossed the line after 12 hours in a three-car formation finish, with the number 96 car being the best of them, winning the class and finishing 18th outright.
The dates for next year’s event were announced today, with the 2015 Bathurst 12-Hour scheduled for February 6-8.
RESULTS - OUTRIGHT
- 88(A) - il Bello Rosso - P.Edwards/J.Bowe/C.Lowndes/M.Salo - Ferrari F458 Italia - 296 laps - 12:00:29.5750
- 84(A) - HTP Motorsport - H.Primat/T.Jaeger/M.Buhk Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 - 296 laps - 12:00:29.9888
- 63(A) - Erebus Motorsport - W.Davison/J.Le Brocq/G.Crick Mercedes SLS AMG GT - 296 laps - 12:00:31.9775
- 37(A) - Darrell Lea - T.Quinn/K.Quinn/A.Kirkaldy/S.Van Gisbergen McLaren MP4-12C - 296 laps - 12:00:32.6291
- 3(A) - Phoenix Racing - R.Frey/R.Rast/L.Vanthoor Audi R8 LMS Ultra - 296 laps - 12:01:06.5233
- 25(A) - United Autosports - M.Patterson/E.Lux/M.Winkelhock Audi R8 LMS Ultra - 294 laps - 12:00:53.4499
- 1(A) - Erebus Motorsport - B.Schneider/M.Engel/N.Bastian Mercedes SLS AMG GT - 291 laps - 12:00:39.4150
- 4(B) - Grove Group - S.Grove/E.Bamber/B.Barker Porsche 997 GT3 Cup - 286 laps - 12:01:34.4964
- 12(B) - Ice Break / Competition Motors - D.Calvert-Jones/A.Davison/P.Long Porsche 997 GT3 Cup - 284 laps - 12:01:31.5291
- 9(A) - Network Clothing / Hallmarc - M.Cini/M.Eddy/C.Mies Audi R8 LMS Ultra - 278 laps - 12:00:45.2863
- Class A: 1st outright - Car 88 - il Bello Rosso - P.Edwards/J.Bowe/C.Lowndes/M.Salo - Ferrari F458 Italia - 296 laps
- Class B: 8th outright - Car 4 - Grove Group - S.Grove/E.Bamber/B.Barker - Porsche 997 GT3 Cup - 286 laps
- Class C: 25th outright - Car 54 - Donut King - A.Alford/P.Leemhuis/M.O'Connor - Lotus - 204 laps
- Class D: 16th outright - Car 22 - GT Radial / Radio Hauraki - R.Billington/L.Scott/S.Owers - Seat Leon Supercopa - 247 laps
- Class F: 18th outright - Car 96 - Fiat Abarth Motorsport - L.Youlden/P.Gover/G.Hede/M.Sinclair - Fiat Abarth 500 - 243 laps
- Class I: 15th outright - Car 70 - MARC Cars Australia - G.Denyer/A.Gowans/G.Jacobson/A.Miedecke MARC Focus GTC - 268 laps