Swiss racing driver Harold Primat and his Phoenix Racing teammates secured a fourth place finish at the 12 hours of Bathurst, despite losing four laps mid-race due to a technical issue during one of their routine driver changes.
Harold’s teammate Andreas Simonsen had a strong qualifying session on Saturday, recording the seventh fastest time, and the best placed Audi car.
At 7am local time, Harold took the race start alongside a very competitive field. Despite a number of spins and accidents around him in the first hour, Harold kept the car out of trouble and pushed hard to get the car up to P3 by the end of his double stint.
Harold then handed the car over to Johan Kristoffersson for his first stint, before Andreas took his turn behind the wheel. Maintaining a strong third position, and at times taking the lead of the race due to a fantastic race strategy, the Phoenix Racing team were looking good for a podium finish, if not a win.
However bad luck was to strike at the halfway point when Harold took over for his second stint of the afternoon. The engine refused to start and the ensuing starter motor change meant the team lost more than four laps. Harold rejoined the track in P5 and four laps down on the leaders.
In the last half of the race Harold, Andreas and Johan pushed hard and, despite very tricky driving conditions (which saw a combination of 50 degree track temperature and heavy storms) the teammates had moved up through the field and the #1 Audi was up to P4 by the time the chequered flag fell.
Having completed 266 laps Phoenix Racing was only two laps behind the winning car and just one lap behind the third podium place.
“That was an incredibly entertaining race. A podium and even victory were possible for our team, but at the end of the day we narrowly missed finishing on the podium due to a defect,” said Phoenix Team Boss Ernst Moser.
“In such circumstances we are by no means dissatisfied. Our three drivers, who drove for the first time on this challenging track, did a near perfect job. Harold Primat did a very good job all weekend. He settled into the GT car very well and improved constantly throughout the race.”
“This was a really exciting and challenging race and a really fantastic performance by the entire team. Up until the middle of the race we were fighting for a podium finish and possibly even victory but unfortunately we had to change the starter motor which meant we lost time in the pits and came out four laps down on the leaders;” commented Harold Primat.
“It was my first time driving here and only my second race in a GT car. I put in some strong lap times during my stints and was competitive throughout the weekend. The whole team really worked exceptionally well, and the strategy in particular was perfect at every moment;” continued Harold.
Results (Top Five):
P1 #36 Erebus Motorsport, Mercedes SLS AMG GT3, Schneider/Jaeger/Roloff
P2 #33 Clearwater Racing, Ferrari F458 GT3, Sun/Baird/Griffin
P3 #5 VIP Petfoods, Porsche 911 GT3 R, Quinn/Gisbergen/Kingsley
P4 #1 Phoenix Racing, Audi R8 LMS Ultra GT, Primat/Kristoffersson/Simonsen
P5 #9 Network Clothing/Hallmarc, Audi R8 LMS Ultra GT, Eddy/Cini/Grant/Mies