Bathurst 12 Hour: GruppeM in front with three hours to go
The GruppeM Mercedes currently leads a see-sawing battle with SunEnergy1 Racing heading into the final three hours of the Bathurst 12 Hour.
The next round of stops for the lead group started shortly after the half way mark, Mathieu Jaminet pitting the #912 Manthey EMA Porsche from second place on 6h10m and handing it over to Matt Campbell.
The WRT BMWs stopped from fifth and sixth around same time, Dries Vanthoor handing the #32 over to Charles Weerts while Valentino Rossi stayed at the wheel of the #46.
At the 6h20m mark the #999 GruppeM Mercedes pitted from what had become second place, a fuel-only stop helping Raffaele Marciello get in and back out ahead of Campbell.
Ten minutes later the leading #75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes hit the lane, Gounon taking on fuel before resuming with a 20-second lead over Marciello.
The seventh hour saw the #888 Mercedes lose touch with the #912 Porsche following their tense battle in the first half of the race.
Feeney dropped to around 30 seconds behind Campbell as the stint wore on, while the gap to leader Gounon blew out to almost a minute.
Gounon, meanwhile, was easily able to keep Marciello at bay, the gap between the two factory Mercedes drivers sitting at 17s when the safety car made its fifth appearance of the day.
The caution was sparked by Scott Taylor who fired his Mercedes into the wall at The Dipper.
SunEnergy1 Racing opted to leave Gounon out during the caution, while the rest of the lead group headed for the pits.
The #912 Porsche was able to jump the #999 Mercedes in the stops, with Thomas Preining and Maro Engel taking over those entires respectively.
Shane van Gisbergen jumped in the #888 Mercedes, Philip Ellis stayed in the #77 Mercedes, Sheldon van der Linde jumped aboard the #32 BMW and Maxime Martin took over the #46 BMW.
The race didn't go green again until the 7h15s mark, Gounon immediately pulling a small gap over Preining.
Van Gisbergen, meanwhile, struggled at the restart, losing spots to Ellis, van der Linde and Martin in a matter of corners and then losing touch with that lead group within a lap.
At the same time Engel was able to reclaim second spot as he cruised past Preining on the way into The Chase.
The German then took the fight to Gounon, closing right up onto the back of the leading AMG and even looking at one point like he might try and snare the lead.
However after several laps he seemed to settle in behind Gounon, the gap sitting at around a second.
The BMWs enjoyed some decent pace in that stint as well, both cars able to clear Ellis shortly after the restart.
On 7h45m there was a change for the lead when Gounon came in for his next stop and to hand the car over to Luca Stolz. He resumed back in sixth place behind van Gisbergen, while Engel settled into a handy lead over Preining.
The German continued to lead until the next round of stops kicked off shortly before the 8h30m mark. Preining, van der Linde and Martin were in first, handing over to Jaminet, Vanthoor and Augusto Farfus respectively.
Engel then followed suit a lap later, handing his car back to Marciello as Stolz swept back into the race lead.
Maximilian Gotz took over the #888 Mercedes at the very same time in what was a slow stop as the team fiddled with the front-end blanking.
The stop would prove even more costly a short while afterwards when the car was hit with a drive-through penalty after a crew member adjusted the rear wing in the pitlane.
Back at the front and the gap between Stolz and Marciello held firm at around 10s right up until Stolz pitted again right on the nine-hour mark.
That left Marciello leading the race as it entered its final quarter with a 25s gap back to Jaminet.
Vanthoor and Stolz were next ahead of Farfus, Goetz and Nicky Catsburg in the #77 Craft-Bamboo Mercedes.
The #777 Melbourne Performance Centre Audi was the leading Pro-Am car while the #10 International Motorsports Audi continued to lead the Silver class.
Watch the race live and free on Motorsport.tv (not available to viewers in Australia or New Zealand).
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