Garage 59 finish Bathurst 12hr with class podium (UPDATED)

Sunday, February 02, 2020

A 'tail of two halves' is usually a metaphor reserved for all sports other than motorsport but that is precisely what happened in the second half of the 2020 Bathurst 12hr overnight.

Having already lost five cars to accident damage even before the start of the race including the #62 R-Motorsport V8 Vantage of Marvin Kirchhofer, the level of car destruction sadly continued into the first six hours of the race itself.

The #188 Pro-Am entry from Garage 59 was sadly included in that destruction after Come Ledogar misjudged his entry into the Dipper, clipped the inside kerb heavily to send himself into a spin and a deafening impact with the outside concrete wall and instant race retirement.

That left just the high profile Castrol entry for the #76 R-Motorsport crew of Jake Dennis, Rick Kelly and Scott Dixon in Pro and the race debuting #159 Garage 59 Silver crew of Andrew Watson, Roman de Angelis and Oliver Hart for the remaining ten hours.

Including the #188 Aston, another Lamborghini and Audi suffered similar fate around the top of the mountain as their respective drivers made instantaneous misjudgements that quickly resulted in heavy, race ending impacts with the barriers - thankfully nobody received significant injury.

Initially double stinting both their drivers and tyre, the #159 car cycled through their driver line up and raced their own race in the new for 2020 Silver class having maintained a midfield position overall in the race but between P1 and P3 in class despite all drivers lack of experience of the circuit and car (as was the case for Oliver Hart).

Weather and other meteorological phenomena where now being forecasted for the final third of the race as first a dust storm was expected over the circuit as hot winds increased in speed across the scorched earth of New South Wales. Then there was the imminent threat of rain and thunder storms before the fall of the chequered flag so was getting pretty 'crazy' by this time.

With Hart in the car, the team was 'pinged' by Race Control for the car controller working on the car whilst on pit lane receiving them a 15 second extra hold at their next stop - a fate that several other teams had also been picked up. For the #76 crew, there was little that could be done other than push and 'enjoy themselves' as their lap deficit due to their early front end issues was always going to be too great to overcome.

With Watson now in to the end, it was simply a case of keeping the #159 on the tarmac and out of the wall for them to secure a more warranted step on the Silver Cup podium as all around kept one eye on the race clock and the other on the sky.

Finally came the chequered flag before Mother Nature had time to throw any real volumes of precipitation at the circuit and confirmed the Garage 59 #159 crew as the winners of the final step to the Silver Cup podium. The #76 R-Motorsport car would ultimately finish in P16.

***Official race result has actually positioned the #159 crew in P2 in Silver Cup with the #46 Black Falcon Mercedes AMG behind then in P3 at the flag rather than the other way around as is reported.

***UPDATE - Garage 59 have confirmed that #46 Black Falcon was given a post race penalty for reasons as yet unknown that swapped the finishing positions of both the #46 and #159 cars

Second or third, this is still a great result for both Garage 59 and Aston Martin Racing as a whole. AMR and their Partner teams in the USA suffered heartache at the opening round of the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship after both Vantage GTD's crashed out early on but drivers Andrew Watson and Roman de Angelis (both at the Rolex 24 last weekend) should great resolve and determination to themselves and GT3 rookie Oliver Hart through to a podium finish of perhaps the toughest 12 hour race about.

Next stop for the Intercontinental GT Challenge is at the Spa 24 in July.

Congratulations to Bentley on their overall race win after years of torment and despair!! 👍

Photo credits - AMR / Garage 59 / IGTC

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