Bathurst 12 Hour: SunEnergy1 Mercedes leads, drama for Audis

Luca Stolz leads the Bathurst 12 Hour heading into the final quarter of the race, while there are no Audis left on the lead lap after a dramatic three hours.

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Kevin Tse led the race by almost a minute at the half-way point, however the Craft-Bamboo Mercedes driver was at a clear pace disadvantage to Jules Gounon in the second-placed #75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes.

It took less than 20 minutes for the Frenchman to cut the gap down to just seven seconds, only for his charge to be stopped when the Safety Car was called for a sixth time.

The caution was prompted by a tyre failure for Tony Bates in the #24 Melbourne Performance Centre Audi, the R8 spinning backwards into the wall at Forrest's Elbow. He had been running fourth at the time.

Both Tse and Gounon dived straight into the lane, handing over to Maro Engel and Martin Konrad respectively.

That reversed the Pro versus Am equation in Craft-Bamboo's favour.

Triple Eight, meanwhile, opted to complete a brake pad change while the race was neutralised by the safety car, Shane van Gisbergen resuming in third place.

The #777 MPC Audi ended up a lap down as part of flurry of stops and didn't even get it back as part of the lucky dog wave around before the race went green, as the car was on the lead lap when the safety car was called.

That meant Yasser Shahin dropped from fourth to fifth behind teammate Brad Schumacher in the #74 Audi, who was the last driver on the lead lap.

The race went green at the 6h40m, Engel bolting five seconds down the road as van Gisbergen found his way past Konrad and the lapped Shahin car.

Behind the two Pros there was a battle between Am drivers Konrad and Schumacher, the latter wrangling third place off the former at Murray's Corner shortly before the seven-hour mark.

Schumacher satisfied his Am driver time at the 7h18m mark, at which point Kelvin van der Linde took over the #74 R8.

As the stint wore on Engel was able to build his lead over van Gisbergen to around 13 seconds before van Gisbergen pitted to hand over to Prince Jefri Ibrahim on the 7h30m mark.

Engel responded a lap later to hand the car back to Tse as the lead Mercedes crews both looked to satisfy their Am driver time.

That played into van der Linde's hands, the South African giving chase to the two Ams from around 30 seconds behind.

SunEnergy1 Racing cleared its Am driver time at 7h40m, Luca Stolz taking over from Konrad in the #75 Mercedes.

At that point Ibrahim and Tse started to squabble over the lead, Tse diving under the T8 car at The Chase to grab the lead.

Van der Linde followed Tse through, before charging into the lead on the run up Mountain Straight at the start of the next lap.

Not long after the eight-hour mark the #777 was taken further out of contention when a failed tyre ended up wrapped around the rear suspension, putting the car four laps down.

Out front van der Linde put in a remarkable stint to gap the field by the best part of a minute, and even put the #888 Mercedes a lap down on sheer pace.

However the #74's race almost unravelled right as van der Linde came in for a stop at the 8h20m mark when the team was told it had to serve a two-minute time penalty for exceeding the maximum driver time.

Schumacher had been in the car for 88 minutes, eight more than allowed in one stint, to draw the penalty.

The car still had a two-minute compulsory stop to serve as well, the double whammy sending the car a lap down as Nathanael Berthon jumped behind the wheel.

There was another twist five minutes later when the #45 RAM Motorsport Mercedes crashed out of the race to spark a seventh safety car.

That should have seen the #74 Audi get its lap back under the lucky dog rule, however light rain led officials to opt against letting cars unlap themselves before the restart.

That left just three cars on the lead lap when the race went green again at the 8h55m mark, Stolz leading Juncadella, who replaced Tse in the Craft-Bamboo car, and Broc Feeney in the #888 Mercedes.

The trio were running in that order as the race ticked over the nine-hour mark.

Watch the race live and free at Motorsport.tv (not available for viewers in Australia and New Zealand).

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Bathurst 12 Hour: Strange strategy puts Craft-Bamboo in front
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Bathurst 12 Hour: SunEnergy1 Mercedes takes dominant win

Bathurst 12 Hour: SunEnergy1 Mercedes takes dominant win