May 29, 2023

Mercedes drivers react to wild Bathurst 12 Hours clash


GruppeM driver Maro Engel and SunEnergy1 Racing’s Jules Gounon came together in the final hour of a dramatic Mount Panorama race, as Engel tried to reclaim a lead he’s lost due to a slow stop.

The GruppeM car was largely in control of the race heading into the final two stints with both track position and the optimal strategy.

However the team was then compromised by a faulty modem in the car which meant data required to be fed back to race officials wasn’t being consistently transmitted.

Despite it being a part provided by the event, not then team itself, race officials ordered the unit to be changed during the final scheduled stop.

The delay was enough to hand the lead of the race to the SunEnergy1 entry, which opted to save time at its last stop and double stint a set of tyres.

#999 GruppeM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: Maro Engel, Mikael Grenier, Raffaele Marciello

Photo by: Bathurst 12H

The contact between Engel and Gounon then happened as the German desperately tried to use his tyre advantage to salvage the race win. 

Even before the race was over Engel’s co-drivers began to react to the situation, Mikael Grenier suggesting there was little Engel could do at The Chase and labelling the delayed stop as unfair.

“For me Jules was at the end of the braking zone, so I don’t know what Maro could do because he was committed to overtaking him already,” he  told the broadcast. 

“But the problems started earlier. The series couldn’t see the telemetry so we had to change a sensor in the car. They told us we had to do it. 

“We lost the lead because of that which I think is not fair because they can still see telemetry in the garage. Then Maro had to go for it.”

Raffaele Marciello, meanwhile, appeared to take aim at race officials in a tweet where he said he was disgusted with what happened.

Speaking post-race Engel said he respected the decision from race control, while also reiterating that the data logger incident was what set the drama in motion. 

“I think [it] was our race,” he said. “We had everything under control until we were requested to add a data logger at the last pitstop. That threw us behind them. And then from there on, I knew I had to make a move and they were just so quick in the straight that it was… even though I had fresh tyres and good exits it was hard to keep up on the straights so went for the move, and it was unfortunate that we came together. 

“I respect the decision of race control. Not much more to say.”

Gounon and Engel – who won the Daytona 24 Hours together seven days ago – were seen embracing after the race, with Gounon confirming in the press conference that there are no hard feelings.

“First of all, I apologise to Maro because last week we won the biggest race in the world and this week we fight hard to win a race and unfortunately we had contact,” he said. 

“It’s never nice because I really consider him as a friend, but I think for a win at Bathurst we very competitive and I just decided to also throw everything at it.”

When pressed further on the matter he added: “It’s a very uncomfortable situation as he’s a friend. I would much rather like to touch with somebody else in the room, but at the end it’s racing. 

“A chance to win Bathurst in your life are really small, so Maro went for it and I also defended. It was not only him; it was on me to try to make the corner. 

“I think it’s a racing incident, but as I said it’s really hard for me to be in this situation with him – but, I think, to win Bathurst you will sell your mother, so that’s what happened a bit today for me!”

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