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Feb 09, 2014 - 03:54 PM
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Plenty To Celebrate For Erebus At Bathurst
Posted by: newsla on Feb 09, 2014 - 03:53 PM
Sports Cars
Plenty To Celebrate For Erebus At Bathurst


It all started so perfectly, but when Bathurst bites, it bites hard and for the Erebus Motorsport GT team, back-to-back Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour victories eluded them after such a promising start, but whilst there was no victory celebration, their return drive from two laps down to a podium was one of the highlights of the weekend.

 

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After qualifying on the front two rows of the grid for the 6:15am rolling start, rising young German star Nico Bastian led the field away, taking V8 Supercar veteran Craig Lowndes with him. The pair opened a strong early lead before the first dramatic Safety Car period on lap five after first Jack Le Brocq, and then Lamborghini pilot Peter Kox clipped a kangaroo on the run up to the Cutting . Unfortunately for Le Brocq in the #63 Erebus SLS, the contact broke the splitter and dive planes on the right front.

The team elected to keep going, Le Brocq initially dropping back before regrouping and working his way forward once more.

On the restart Bastian once again led Lowndes away from the pack, the pair running in the high 2:04s and pulling away from the field. Behind them Le Brocq was on a charge despite mounting understeer issues in the left-hand corners thanks to the lack of aero on the right.

“I had to learn how to cope with the aero problem,” he admitted afterwards. “Going in deep, braking hard then getting back on it. It was great to be turning in 2:06s.”

At the first stop the team did a precautionary check over the car to make sure it was right to go, Le Brocq staying in the car but dropping a lap to the charging Bastian in the process. At the one hour mark Bastian was in to hand over to Schneider, and after his stint, pole-sitter Maro Engel took the lead and extended the team’s advantage before a significant incident at the top of the mountain impacted more than just the two drivers affected by the contact.

Driving the Clearwater Ferrari that had made the 12-Hour podium in 2013, Hiroshi Hamaguchi had an issue at the top of the mountain on lap 58, ultimately spinning on his own fluids into the gravel on the run across Skyline. Bedlam ensued as cars ran either side of the Ferrari before the high-profile Nissan team with Katsumasa Chiyo at the wheel made heavy contact with the front of the Ferrari.

There was no immediate impact on the Erebus team, but the coolant claimed a number of victims, including Bastian at the halfway point of the race, the young Erebus star avoiding contact with the concrete, but not by much, in the process damaging part of the rear bodywork, but not immediately forcing any change of strategy.

At his scheduled stop an hour later, the team changed all four Michelin tyres and rejoined in the lead. At the eight hour mark he completed his double-stint and returned to the pits to hand the reigns back to Schneider, all looked to be following protocol, until Schneider attempted to leave the pit bay , the car it appearing to bystanders to have stalled. Sadly for the Erebus team, there was a greater issue as a result of Bastian’s off, the team discovering a mechanical fault that needed timely repairs, the crew forced to effect repairs in the garage. Sadly, the result of those repairs set the reigning champions back to ninth place.

Effectively that ended the #1 car’s run at back-to-back victories, however in almost identical fashion to 2013, the second Erebus car was sitting just outside the top three, and despite handling issues, worked its way back into contention despite a slight indiscretion involving Greg Crick in the Dipper, the ‘veteran’ making contact with the rear of a slower car under brakes.

Whilst that didn’t slow his forward progress too dramatically, it did serve to tear the right front guard off the once pristine Erebus SLS.

“It must have been another one of those pesky Suzuki’s,” he said. “To be honest the closing speeds are quite dramatic, and he caught me by surprise, but the damage didn’t slow us down too much, in fact the lack of aero meant less drag, so it was quick in a straight line, which made up for the lack of grip in the corners..”

Despite the setback and obvious bodywork damage, the trio of Australian drivers ran consistent laps inside the 2:07 and 2:08 range to work their way back into contention, with a number of mid-race Safety Cars working in their favour to have former Bathurst 1000 champion Will Davison within reach of the leaders during the closing stages of the race.

Sadly for Davison, the one thing standing between him and a podium result was V8 Supercar rival Shane Van Gisbergen, the young Kiwi charging hard over the final stages in the McLaren, a late race Safety Car bunching the field with five laps to go, Davison weathering the storm to bring the Erebus team a podium result, the #63 car finishing just two seconds behind race winner Craig Lowndes.

“It was disappointing for our number one car to lose such a strong lead, because at that stage we were two laps down with a wounded car,” Davison said post-race. “We all really wanted to do this for Betty [Klimenko] so we pushed really hard over the remaining stints and worked our way back onto the lead lap, and then the podium.”

Whilst Davison managed to weather the storm over the closing laps, impressive young Erebus Academy graduate Jack Le Brocq and Greg Crick contributed to the outright result, Crick especially impressive on his Erebus debut, fending off former F1 driver Mika Salo for a number of laps mid-race.

“It was a dream come true for me getting this drive,” Crick admitted with a broad smile post-race. “I’d raced against the Erebus team in the past and when they called me to join them for Bathurst I had to pinch myself to make sure it wasn’t a dream.

“I had a great time and enjoyed working with the team. Watch out for young Jack Le Brocq too, he was so quick and I think that’s just the beginning, there is a lot more to come from him.”

Despite the frustrating end to what started as a brilliant title defence, the #1 team remained focussed and charged through the remaining laps of the race to recover a number of spots, ultimately crossing the line seventh.

“Obviously we’re disappointed with the outcome and I am sorry that we couldn’t bring home another victory for the Erebus team, but I had a fantastic time, this place is amazing and I would really love to come back and join the Erebus team again in future and finish what we started.”

“Okay, I’m disappointed about the result with the number one car but honestly I’m delighted with the fight back from where we were and very happy with a podium finish,” Daniel Klimenko, Team Principal of Erebus Motorsport GT admitted.

“Not much seemed to go our way today - the Safety Car with Cricky then that last Safety Car, which was crazy, the Porsche was off the track. Despite that, to be running that fast at the end with a damaged car was great and Will was brilliant holding out Van Gisbergen over the final few laps.”

For the Erebus Motorsport GT team, it’s a return to Melbourne to prepare for the opening round of the Australian GT Championship at Sandown Raceway at the end of March where new Erebus recruit Richard Muscat will make his debut with the team.

2014 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour
Race [12-Hours] (Mount Panorama, Bathurst - 9 February)
01. 88. Edwards/Bowe/Lowndes/Salo (Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) - 296-laps
02. 84. Jaeger/Primat/Buhk (Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3) - 296-laps
03. 63. Davison/Le Brocq/Crick (Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3) - 296-laps
04. 37. Quinn/Quinn/Kirkaldy/Van Gisbergen (McLaren MP4-12C) - 296-laps
05. 3. Frey/Rast/Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS ultra) - 296-laps
06. 25. Patterson/Lux/Winkelhock (Audi R8 LMS ultra) - 294-laps
07. 1. Schneider/Engel/Bastian (Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3) - 291-laps

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About Erebus Motorsport;
• Founded in 2011.
• Pole position for 2014 Bathurst 12-Hour.
• Won 2013 Bathurst 12 Hour.
• Won six races in the 2013 Australian GT Championship.
• Won on debut with Mika Hakkinen in the 2013 GT Asia Series at Zhuhai (China).
• Brought AMG Customer Sports to the V8 Supercars Championship from 2013.
• Awarded 2011’s AMG Customer Sports Program ‘Best Presented Car’.
• In Greek mythology, Erebus (darkness) is the father of Light (Ether), the son of Chaos and the brother of Eros - the love God.

The Erebus Motorsport GT team enjoy combined support from MotorActive, Actros Trucks, Snap-On, Wilson Security, BLK, Michelin, Kings Apparel and Wrap My Ride.

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AMG Customer Sports 2013 season;
• 38 overall victories (8 to Erebus Motorsport)
• Eight victories in endurance races
• 31 class victories (8 to Erebus Motorsport)
• 82 podium positions (9 to Erebus Motorsport)
• 217 Top Ten positions
• 27 Pole Positions (6 to Erebus Motorsport)
• 14 fastest laps
• 170 starts

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