The Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 of drivers Toni Vilander of Finland and Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes of Australia.
The Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 of drivers Toni Vilander of Finland and Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes of Australia. SUPPLIED

Whincup guides Ferrari to Bathurst 12 Hour win

WHAT the 2017 Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour lacked in a close finish it more than made up for in late-race drama.

Jamie Whincup capped a scintillating debut in GT sports cars by driving the No.88 Maranello Motorsports Ferrari 488 past the chequered flag to claim victory for himself, Toni Vilander and Craig Lowndes.

But their remarkable triumph was overshadowed by the tumultuous end to his late-race battle with his regular Supercars teammate Shane van Gisbergen.

A race-long duel boiled down to a final-stint showdown between Whincup and SVG, aboard the No.22 STM/HTP Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3.

After emerging behind following their final pit stops, Whincup snatched the lead away with a daring pass down Conrod Straight, with his Supercars teammate bumping him on to the grass at about 260km/h.

Van Gisbergen's pursuit all but ended when he bumped a lapped car into the fence, earning a pit lane penalty.

It was one he would not serve; SVG later crashed the Mercedes after clipping a kerb on the run out of the Dipper.

It was an unfair ending to a day-long battle where the Ferrari and Mercedes outlasted a host of Class A rivals, who either fell by the wayside with mechanical issues or crashes.

The Ferrari's victory was anchored by a stunning stint by Vilander, who drove flat-out for almost three hours before handing the car to Whincup for the run home.

Second place would go to the No.12 Competition Motorsport Porsche 911 despite four penalties earned across the day by drivers Matt Campbell, Marc Lieb, Patrick Long, and David Calvert-Jones.

The final spot on the podium would go to the Bentley team, the No.17 car of Steven Kane, Guy Smith and Oliver Jarvis having a largely trouble-free day.

The same could not be said for most of the pre-race hopefuls.

The BMW attack folded in the early hours. Chaz Mostert led the first hour of the race before co-driver Max Twigg crashed their No.90 MARC Cars BMW M6, a gearbox problem eventually putting the car they shared with Morgan Haber out of the race.

The No.60 BMW Team SRM M6 of Marco Wittmann, Mark Winterbottom and Steven Richards was hobbled by power steering dramas throughout the day, finishing a distant 14th, while the sister No.7 'Bathurst Legends' car crashed out in the sixth hour with Russell Ingall at the wheel.

The Jamec Pem Audi challenge was halved before sunrise when Frank Stippler crashed the No.74 car at the Esses, while contact sent the No.75 car spinning in the early hours, leaving it with damage that drivers Garth Tander and Christophers Mies and Haase could not overcome.

The best Nissan finished down in eighth; the No.24 car of Todd Kelly, Jann Mardenborough and Florian Strauss overcoming gearbox problems, while mechanical issues left the lead No.23 car of Katsumasa Chiyo, Alex Buncombe and Michael Caruso to be the last classified car in 32nd place.

TOP 10 - 2017 Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour (290 laps)

1. (88) Vilander/Lowndes/Whincup (Ferrari)

2. (12) Calvert-Jones/Long/Lieb/Campbell (Porsche) +1 laps

3. (17) Soucek/Soulet/Abril (Bentley) +1 laps

4. (912) Talbot/Martin/D Padayachee (Porsche) +1 laps

5. (1) Parente/Bell/Ledogar (McLaren) +1 laps

6. (32) Lago/Owen/Russell (Lamborghini) +2 laps

7. (3) Samadi/Gaunt/Halliday (Audi) +2 laps

8. (24) Strauss/Kelly/Mardenborough (Nissan) +2 laps

9. (9) Cini/Holdsworth/Fiore (Audi) +3 laps

10. (29) Manolis/Millier/Capelli/Canto (Lamborghini) +5 laps

News Corp Australia

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