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Bentley Wins Bathurst 12 Hour With Record-Breaking Distance

Bentley has taken its first overall victory at the Bathurst 12 Hour to take the lead of the four-round Intercontinental GT Challenge.

The event didn’t start out in the best way for Bentley, with the #8 car of Alex Buncombe, Oliver Jarvis, and Seb Morris missing qualifying altogether after a heavy crash in practice due to a braking issue at the fastest part of the circuit. Cumbria-based M-Sport, which runs the Bentley GT3 program, was able to repair the car for the race.

While the sibling #7 car was able to take part in qualifying, an 11th place finish meant the team missed out on the top ten shootout to determine pole position, taken by 2019 race-winner Matt Campbell in the Porsche 911.

However endurance races are rarely about where you start, and by staying out of trouble the #7 was up among the lead pack with only five hours on the clock. That was helped along by a puncture for the pole-sitting 911, dropping them down the order.

As the #7 hit the front, the #8 was in strife again. A puncture at the worst possible time saw Jarvis spin exiting The Dipper, and while he somehow avoided contact the car was unable to move under its own power and retired as a result.

Despite numerous safety cars — always a feature with the close walls at Bathurst — Jules Gounon, Jordan Pepper, and Maxime Soulet were able to build a margin at the front. The #999 GruppeM Mercedes and the #60 59Racing McLaren were holding each other up as they fought over second.

A blowout for the #7 at the Conrod Straight hump an hour from the end almost took the shine off the day, but Gounon was able to bring the Continental GT back into the pits for a fresh set of tyres without much impact on the 20-second lead.

Only an hour later Gounon crossed the finish line with 314 laps completed and 1,212 miles under the Bentley — both new records for the event. The #999 was next to cross the line some 37 seconds down, but almost didn’t make it as the heavens opened between the two. Even so, it picked up a 30-second penalty for a pitlane infringement after its own late-race puncture.

With one race of the four completed, Bentley leads the fledgling Intercontinental GT Challenge table for the first time in six years.

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