2015 Bathurst 12 Hour : swan song for Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3

Last weekend's Bathurst 12 Hour was the 13th since the endurance race began in 1991. And while it will forever go down as one of the best finishes on record for Mercedes-Benz, it marked the end of an era…

This year’s gruelling Mount Panorama event comprised 269 laps of the 6.213km circuit, for over 1670km and a record 20 safety car disruptions. It also signalled the final time affiliated teams would tackle the world-famous race in the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 before its new Mercedes-AMG GT-based replacement takes over in 2016.

Claiming victory in 2013, and the remaining podium places last year, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT-class competitor has done the German car maker proud since finishing second in its 12 Hour debut back in 2012. This year, three SLS AMG GT3s were entered. Two – car #36 and #63 – were under the management of Erebus Motorsport (well known for their involvement in V8 Supercars and Australian GT racing), with the crew from Garth Walden Racing (GWR) singularly looking after the #7 Vodka O car (pictured below).

With the endurance race split between six categories, car #36 would solely tackle the Class A GT3 Pro-Am category, while car #63 and #7 would battle it out in Class A GT3 AM.

Mixing professional drivers with those deemed amateurs, Erebus’ Pro-Am line-up included Dean Canto, Richard Muscat and Jack LeBrocq. ‘Amateurs’ Dean Grant, Ash Samadi and Max Twigg would share responsibility of the GWR Vodka O car, leaving the super young guns of Nathan Morcom (22), Simon Hodge (20) and sixteen-year-old Austin Cindric to steer the final amateur car. Powered by a 6.3-litre V8 outputting 420kW at 6800rpm and 650Nm at 4750rpm, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 means business. And it needs to.

Rivals? How do the Aston Martin Vantage GT3, Audi R8-LMS Ultra, Bentley Continental GT3, Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4, Lamborghini Gallardo LP600, McLaren MP4-12C GT3, Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 and Porsche 911 GT3R grab you? As mandated by FIA GT3 rules, all cars are rear-wheel-drive.

Helping to send all that horsepower to the SLS GT3’s rear-most 18-inch central-locking AMG light alloy wheels, is a six-speed sequential gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddles. Slick Pirelli P Zero racing tyres are tasked with not getting shredded too quickly. For the spec nerds out there, the 4.71m-long, 1.99m-wide Mercedes-Benz weighs 1355kg, revs to 7200rpm and will hit 100km/h in 3.7sec before topping out at over 300km/h.

Taking place between 05:50 and 17:50, the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour would see a total race-day field of 50 cars start with only the fastest, straightest and best able to claim the ultimate crown.

Friday (45hrs35min until race start): Practice One begins at 08:15.

Unfortunately a solid 2m05.9226s lap by David Russell in the #32 JBS Australia Lamborghini Gallardo LP600 is soon forgotten after a heavy impact between the #88 Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia of Tony D'Alberto and the #99 Craft Bamboo Racing Aston Martin Vantage of Jean-Marc Merlin causes the session to be concluded under a red flag.

Finishing in fifth, the #36 SLS tops its fellow AMGs for the session. Friday (42hrs25min until race start): Practice Two begins at 11:25.

With last year’s winner, the Marenello Motorsports 458 Italia, now out of contention, the second practice session is taken out by Laurens Vanthoor in the #15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8-LMS Ultra (pictured below) with a time of 2m04.9867s.

Despite light contact being made to the back of the #12 Ice Break Porsche 911 GT3R of David Calvert-Jones, Patrick Long and Chris Pither, the #36 car of Canto, Muscat and LeBrocq again top the SLS AMG table with another fifth position. Friday (40hrs15min until race start): Practice Three begins at 13:35.

Cementing his place back atop the leader board, David Russell again sets a benchmark time in the #32 JBS Australia Lamborghini Gallardo LP600, clocking a 2m04.2332s, in a session marred by three red flags.

A hat trick of fifth places proves car #36’s consistency, with car #63 (pictured below) ending the session in ninth. Friday (37hrs35min until race start): Practice Four begins at 16:15.

The day’s final one-hour practice sees the #9 Hallmarc/Network Clothing Audi R8-LMS Ultra of Marc Cini, Mark Eddy and Christopher Mies top the session with a best time of 2m05.3280s, though fail to better either Russell or Vanthoor’s overall best times set in P3 and P2 respectively.

Eighth best for the session and ninth overall, the #36 Erebus car continues to be the best-placed SLS AMG GT3 of the competing trio, ahead of car #63 in 17th overall and car #7 in 29th.

Claiming to have a strong package going into Sunday’s race, Dean Canto says, “We’ve tuned the car up pretty well and we’re all comfortable, and we’re within two or three tenths of each other… But tomorrow is qualifying and that’s where it all counts.”

Eager for Sunday's 12-hour-long main event, Richard Muscat adds, "We’re fairly confident – we’ve been in the top-five for almost every session today, except for the last session when we were running more of a race strategy doing longer runs." Saturday (22hrs5min until race start): Practice Five begins at 07:45.

The last practice session ahead of the afternoon’s qualifying has Laurens Vanthoor in the #15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8-LMS Ultra back leading the charge with a cracking time of 2m03.5373s – the first 2m03s of the weekend.

Another session concluded under red flag conditions, P5 sees the #36 SLS AMG GT3 of Canto, Muscat and LeBrocq again best its Mercedes peers, finishing in fourth position. Saturday (16hrs55min until race start): Qualifying One begins at 12:55.

With less than two minutes remaining in the hour-long session – to be followed by a 20-minute Class A-only qualifying session – Christopher Mies in the #9 Hallmarc/Network Clothing Audi R8-LMS Ultra returns to the top spot with a 2m04.2919s.

Q1 sees things flip at Erebus Motorsport, with the #63 car of Morcom, Hodge and Cindric pipping car #36 for bragging rights with a sixth-place finish over Canto, Muscat and LeBrocq’s 14th. Saturday (15hrs45min until race start): Qualifying Two begins at 14:05.

Not more than 10 minutes after Q1 finished has Q2 began. And now it’s time for the Class A big boys to battle it out for lap time supremacy and ultimate grid position for tomorrow’s 12 Hour. What happens next is simply astounding…

With a mere three minutes left in the session, and just before red flags are shown following the #7 Vodka O SLS AMG making contact with the wall at The Cutting, the #15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8-LMS Ultra of Laurens Vanthoor crosses the line in 2m02.5521s.

The fastest-ever officially recorded lap of Mount Panorama, the 23-year-old Belgian driver’s time surpassed Shane Van Gisbergen’s already impressive 2m03.8506s lap set in a McLaren MP4-12C GT3 during last year’s Bathurst 12 Hour. Five brands make it into the final Top Five, with Audi, Lamborghini, Nissan, Ferrari and Aston Martin all represented.

Unfortunately, after securing third spot for the factory-backed Nismo Athlete Global Team with a time of 2m03.2974s, #35 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 (pictured above) driver Katsumasa Chiyo contacts the concrete wall at The Cutting… heavily.

Ready and raring to go for Sunday’s 05:50 race start, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3s drivers are optimistic about the their seventh (#36), 19th (#63) and 26th (#7) starting positions. “We’re pretty excited obviously,” Richard Muscat (pictured below middle) says. “We think we’ve got a good shot.

“We’re looking at double- and triple-stinting tomorrow with the tyres and it’s really important, not just that they get a quick lap time but to be consistent and you know, you don’t win the race in that first hour, you win it in the 12th hour.”

“With the pace that we know we have in the car we’re in a good position heading into the race,” says Simon Hodge.

“We haven’t got to the business end of the weekend by any means yet, and we won’t even tomorrow morning. It’s only tomorrow evening at five o’clock when the real race starts, and you have to be still in it to win it at that point and so far, without a scratch on the car, that’s exactly what we are to this point.” Highlighting Erebus’ 2013 win, Canto has his sights set high, saying, “…We’ve got a strong combination in the three drivers in car #36, we’re all very close in times, but I think the competition is obviously tighter this year but then again, anything can happen and I think a podium’s assured but hopefully we’re on that top step.”

Asked if there is a ‘golden hour’ of the Bathurst enduro, Erebus Motorsport GT team principal Daniel Klimenko – a man who has helped the squad claim three podiums in three years – says timing is critical.

“Well, if you’re going to have problems, you want them early. You can never come back in the last hour. “The last hour’s probably the worst time to have any issue, from a flat tyre to a suspension failure, anything. If it takes an extra pit stop in the last hour, you’re pretty much over.

“With Bathurst you just have a plan, stick to your plan and as things change, you adapt.

“We’ve got a lot to live up to and we’d like our fourth podium. But at the end of the day, it’s a tough challenge and whoever wins is going to have great bragging rights.” Sunday (0hrs5min until race start):
It’s 05:45. There are five minutes to race start and its dark. The tension and excitement are palatable. Teams first started arriving to Mount Panorama on Wednesday morning. Now its Sunday, game day, and the cars are all lined up on the main straight.

The track lights are on, the cars’ lights are on and dawn is still yet to break. Amazingly, the #35 Nismo Athlete Global Team Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 has been repaired through the night, and now sits proudly on the starting grid. 12:00:00 to go:
The revs of naturally aspirated 6.3- and 4.5-litre V8s, twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8s, 6.0-litre V12s, 5.0- and 5.2-litre V10s, a twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V8, a twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V6 and 4.0-litre 'Boxer' six-cylinders fill the air.

The clock ticks 05:50 and we’re off, set for 12 hours of racing around what is often touted as one of the world’s top five race tracks.

Leading off Lap 1 are Markus Winkelhock in the #15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8-LMS Ultra, ahead of Steven Owen in the #32 JBS Australia Lamborghini Gallardo LP600 and Wolfgang Reip in the #35 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3. Richard Muscat is at the helm of the #36 SLS AMG GT3, with Nathan Morcom and Max Twigg behind the wheel of cars #63 and #7 respectively.

Barely 19 minutes in and the first safety car of the race is called out to the circuit. Involving contact with a kangaroo at 220km/h, the incident leaves the #42 Hallmark Homes E46 BMW M3 GTR of Anthony Gilbertson in the wall on Conrod Straight.

11:30:00 to go:
Nine laps down and the safety car is still out. As drivers, teams and fans await the restart, the top three remains unchanged.

Good news for Mercedes-Benz, car #36 has improved three places to fourth, its Erebus sister car up five spots to 14th position. Dropping one place, Max Twigg in the #7 GWR Vodka O SLS AMG GT3 sits in 27th.

With daybreak starting to shed light on the iconic mountain, the safety car peels into the pits and green flags are waved once again. 11:00:00 to go:
Twenty-three laps deep into the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour and drivers start to appreciate their cars fully coming up to racing temperature. Proving the point, Winkelhock in the #15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8-LMS Ultra continues to throw in fastest laps, first a 2m03.6669s then a 2m03.5839s.

All three Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3s hold position.

On Lap 29 the seemingly inevitable happens. Winkelhock records what would remain the fastest lap of the race, hustling the #15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8-LMS Ultra around Bathurst in 2m03.3091s. 10:25:00 to go:
After a brief stint in second place, the #63 Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG pits with Simon Hodge taking over from Nathan Morcom.

The race’s second safety car also rolls onto the track after the #14 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car of Peter Conroy crashes at Hell’s Corner – Mount Panorama’s first left hander.

Taking the safety car count to three, another is called out soon after, following a coming together of two Porsches – car #51 and #66 – through Falken Elbow (normally Forrest’s Elbow). 09:35:00 to go:
It’s 08:15. Ambient air temperature is up to 18.5 degrees, the track 22.5 degrees.

07:40:00 to go:
By 10:10 – 4hrs20min in – the Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG safety car has made its way onto track six times, the #77 AF Corse SRL Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 of Steve Wyatt, Michele Rugolo and Davide Rigon has led the race and the #10 Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 of Guy Smith, Steven Kane and Matt Bell has had a scare through the kitty litter at McPhillamy Park. Not the only one going off-road, Peter Fitzgerald in the #2 Fitzgerald Racing/Evolve Technik Audi R8-LMS Ultra also has a heart-stopping moment through The Chase after contact with the #8 Flying B Motorsport Bentley Continental GT3 of Peter Edwards and veterans John Bowe and David Brabham.

07:25:00 to go:
It’s Lap 106 and Dean Canto in the #36 Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3 leads the 12 Hour behind the day’s seventh safety car, after taking top spot on Lap 101.

Reaching as high as sixth position, Austin Cindric in the second Erebus car now sits in 12th place with Twigg in the #7 GWR Vokda O car in 24th.

Holding its own with the likes of the #15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8-LMS Ultra and #35 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, the #36 Erebus car is already showing itself to be one of the best out there in terms of fuel efficiency. 06:00:00 to go:
It’s 11:50. We’re 6hrs in – we’ve reached half way.

The #15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8-LMS Ultra of Marco Mapelli, Laurens Vanthoor and Markus Winkelhock are back in the lead ahead of the #99 Craft Bamboo Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Frank Yu, Jonathan Venter and Jean-Marc Merlin and the #36 Erebus Motorsport Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3.

Contact at The Cutting has also put an end to the #92 MARC Cars Australia Ford Focus V8. 05:40:00 to go:
Not 20 minutes later, the race’s 10th safety car is deployed, with Nathan Morcom in the #63 Erebus SLS AMG GT3 contacting the wall at The Cutting on Lap 142. Luckily, their race is not yet done…

At 12:18pm, ambient air temperature is up to around 30 degrees, track temps are hovering around 50 degrees, and inside the cars is hitting up to 60 degrees. 05:22:00 to go:
It’s 12:28 and under green flags, the #36 Erebus car leads Lap 148 ahead of the #35 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 and #97 Craft Bamboo Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

The #36 Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3 pits on lap 151 for fuel, new front brake pads, new tyres, and a new driver, handing over the lead of the race to Katsumasa Chiyo in the #35 Nismo Athlete Global Team Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3.

Dean Grant is now up to 19th in the #7 GWR Vodka O SLS AMG GT3, while the #63 Erebus Mercedes-Benz is back racing and in 25th. 05:00:00 to go:
Lead drivers have now racked up 154 laps of Mount Panorama, with Chiyo in the #35 Nissan heading the pack ahead of Stefan Mucke in the #97 Aston Martin and Vanthoor in the #15 Audi.

Canto is back behind the wheel of the #36 SLS AMG GT3, now in sixth, while Hodge steers for the Erebus youngsters in car #63, currently in 24th place. Dean Grant remains in 19th in the #7 GWR Vodka O car.

Minutes later on Lap 155, Canto makes contact with the inside left of the #77 AF Corse SRL Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 (pictured below) coming onto mountain straight. Sending the one-time race leader into the wall and out of contention, the impact results in the safety car being deployed… for the 12th time. It also sees Canto receive a black flag and a drive-through penalty for contact. Just as the 1000km-mark is ticked over at 13:11, the ambient air temperature is up to 31 degrees, with track temps now at 59 degrees.

04:30:00 to go:
Phoenix Racing’s lap time wizard Laurens Vanthoor is back in the lead in the #15 Audi R8-LMS Ultra. Dean Canto again sits in sixth place in the #36 Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3, with Dean Grant in the #7 GWR Vodka O car in 18th.

Simon Hodge sits inside the #63 Erebus car in pit lane for a scheduled stop. 4:00:00 to go:
Almost bang on 13:50, the #10 Bentley Continental GT3 of Matt Bell comes through The Chase at the end of Conrod Straight at around 280km/h and heavily shunts Ash Samadi in the #7 Vodka O car. Pushing the Mercedes-Benz onto the dirt, the bump causes Samadi’s SLS AMG GT3 to spin and contact the concrete wall boot first. Thankfully Samadi is ok.

In more positive news for Mercedes-Benz, Canto in the #36 SLS AMG is up into second, behind the #35 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 of Katsumasa Chiyo, and Hodge remains at the wheel of the #63 Erebus car – now in 32nd place. 03:33:00 to go:
Thirteen different brands battle it out in GT racing globally, and with 187 laps gone in the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour, eight different manufacturers are represented in the Top 10. Hammering home the event’s international flavour, drivers from seven different nationalities are in the top eight.

Two laps later, on Lap 189, just before the day’s 14th safety car is deployed, Dean Canto takes lead in the #36 Erebus car after Chiyo pits his #35 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3.

For those playing at home, at this stage, the Bathurst 12 Hour safety car record stood at 15 – set in 2013. 03:00:00 to go:
Nine hours of racing complete, 198 laps in the bank, and the #97 Aston Martin Vantage leads the #15 and #16 Phoenix Racing Audi R8s.

Sitting in fifth position, Richard Muscat is behind the wheel of the highest placed Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, the #36 car, ahead of his Erebus teammate Austin Cindric in car #63 in 30th place.

02:38:00 to go:
Sure enough, on Lap 207 the record falls with the race’s 16th safety car being called out to pace the field following an off by one of the Class B GT3 Cup Porsches.

02:30:00 to go:
After less than a minute of green racing, a huge crash at McPhillamy Park involving the #91 MARC Cars Australia Mazda 3 V8 (pictured below) of Ivo Breukers triggers safety car number 17.

‘Helped’ into the gravel, and subsequently a wall, by the #16 Phoenix Racing Audi R8-LMS Ultra of Felix Baumgartner – the 45-year-old Austrian daredevil who skydived from the stratosphere to earth on October, 2012 – Breukers safely scampers away from the wreck under his own steam. The Top Three is currently the #36 Erebus Motorsport Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG with Richard Muscat on board, #35 Nissan GT-R Nismo piloted by Wolfgang Reip and the #97 Craft Bamboo Racing Aston Martin Vantage of Alex MacDowall.

02:00:00 to go:
At 15:50, third place’s Alex MacDowall has a spin and nudges the wall at Turn Two’s Griffins Bend. Luckily for himself, but also the fans, he gets the Aston Martin going again, avoiding yet another safety car.

Soon after, at the end of Lap 222, Muscat pits the #36 SLS AMG, handing the lead to Reip in the #35 Nissan GT-R Nismo as the race’s enters its final 1hr57m. The Erebus team puts in fuel and a new driver, sending Jack LeBrocq out for the run to the finish – he rolls out into fifth place. 01:43:00 to go:
A long pit stop on Lap 229 sees the #35 Nissan GT-R Nismo take on fuel and a new steerer – 2013 GT Academy Germany winner Florian Strauss – but drop out of the lead and into third place.

Steven Kane in the #10 Bentley Continental GT3 assumes the top spot, while the two remaining Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3s sit in fifth (#36) and 26th (#63) respectively. 01:16:00 to go:
As the tension builds for those watching on and the pressure builds for the teams and drivers, more pit stops see orders shuffled and reshuffled.

Kane in the #10 Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 pits, handing the lead back over to the #15 Audi R8-LMS Ultra of Laurens Vanthoor.

Four minutes later, on Lap 243, Erebus Motorsports’ Jack LeBrocq pits car #36 from fifth place. In pit lane for 1min22sec, the black SLS AMG GT3 rolls out with 1h11m left in the race.

At 16:45, ambient air temperature has climbed to 32 degrees, though track temps have fallen to 42 degrees. 01:01 to go:
Strauss brings the #35 Nissan GT-R Nismo into the pits on Lap 248 for fuel, new tyres, and a new driver. With his eyes on a Godzilla victory, Japanese driver Katsumasa Chiyo returns to the driver’s seat to come out in third place.

01:00:00 to go:
Lap 249 ticks over with the #36 SLS AMG GT3 of LeBrocq in fourth and the #63 Mercedes-Benz of Morcom in 25th.

Matt Bell in the #10 Bentley leads the pack to begin Lap 250, ahead of Vanthoor in the #15 Audi, Chiyo in the #35 Nissan and LeBrocq in the #36 Mercedes-Benz.

Two laps later the field is bunched up again as the 18th safety car of the race is deployed after the #11 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental GT3 of Maximillian Buhk comes to a stop on Mountain Straight. 00:50:00 to go:
With fans around Mount Panorama on the edge of their seats and glued to screens, the #10 Bentley, #15 Audi, #35 Nissan and #36 Mercedes-Benz are all now bumper-to-bumper.

00:38:00 to go:
Effectively a final sprint to the finish, the race goes green again at the start of Lap 256.

Unfortunately, on the first lap of the restart, the #8 Flying B Motorsport Bentley Continental GT3 of David Brabham goes into the wall at The Cutting thanks to a shunt from Stefan Mucke in the #97 Craft Bamboo Racing Aston Martin Vantage. You guessed it. The safety car is immediately called, taking the tally for the day to 19. 00:15:00 to go:
With 15 minutes remaining, the race goes green again as the lead cars begin Lap 263. The lead #10 Bentley and following #15 Audi are door-to-door battling for every millimetre of potential track advantage.

As if lurking in the background, Chiyo in the #35 Nissan GT-R Nismo is clearly hunting down the two drivers ahead of him, closing the gap as Lap 264 begins.

Coming down Conrod Straight Chiyo passes the final back marker, giving his Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 a clear line of sight to the two leaders.

Lap 265 starts with nothing separating the top three – Bentley, leads Audi, from Nissan. 00:09:00 to go:
With just nine minutes remaining the 20th safety car of the race is sent out after another Class B GT3 Cup Porsche loses it.

Marshals and officials work at pace to clear the beached #4 997 GT3 Cup car, but Lap 266 starts under safety car with only 7m43s to go.

00:04:08 to go:
Green flags! Green flags! The race goes green again at the start of Lap 267.

Crossing the start/finish line, Chiyo in the #35 Nissan GT-R immediately moves past the #15 Audi R8 of Vanthoor and into second position behind Bell in the #10 Bentley Continental. Then just as easily, the Japanese driver blasts past the British barge as the two power up Mountain Straight. 00:03:20 to go:
GT-R leads! The Nissan is pulling away leaving the Bentley and Audi, and now the #97 Aston Martin Vantage of Stefan Mucke, to battle it out for the minor placings. Just falling behind, the #36 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 of Jack LeBrocq is still there in fifth.

00:01:10 to go:
Chiyo is not looking back, the #35 Nismo Athlete Global Team Nissan GT-R Nismo pulling a 2.5-second gap over the field. Flying down Conrod Straight, Mucke in the #97 Aston Martin takes Vanthoor in the #15 Audi R8-LMS Ultra to move into second place. 00:00:00 to go:
Crossing the line for the final time on Lap 269 – one more than last year – Chiyo wins! Nissan wins!

Vanthoor takes second in the #15 Audi after regaining the position, from Mucke in the #97 Aston Martin who claims third ahead of Bell in the #10 Bentley and LeBrocq in the #36 Mercedes-Benz who finishes in fifth place as the last car on the lead lap.

Unable to repeat the results of previous years, the final Bathurst 12 Hour outing for the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 was anything but disappointing. Great drivers put in great drives to see the three-pointed star take out fifth and 21st with an unfortunate DNF coming as a result of a racing incident. A huge congratulations to Nissan and the Nismo Athlete Global Team and as Erebus Motorsport GT Team Principal Daniel Klimenko told CarAdvice, “You learn from your experience.”

“Anyone who’s been to Bathurst, you learn every time you come.”

Agreeing that the 12 Hour endurance event can be summed up as one of the most ridiculous but equally excellent races in the world, Klimenko said, “It’s insanity on wheels.”

“This is a unique event. There’s Spa, there’s Nurburg, there’s Bathurst.”

And hey, with a three-day attendance figure up more than 6000 on last year, 32,294 people can't be wrong…

Note: CarAdvice attended this year's Bathurst 12 Hour as a guest of Mercedes-Benz.

Click on the Photos tab to see more images of the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour by David Zalstein.

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