The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour always provides an entertaining contest and 2019 was no different as the result went down to the wire.
With the 2020 race not far away, motorsport.org.au looks back at how Australian Matt Campbell and his team took top honours in epic circumstances.
The drama had started well before the race had even begun as provisional polesitters Jake Dennis, Marvin Kirchhöfer and Matthieu Vaxiviere were excluded from the top-ten shootout, ultimately handing pole to Maximilian Buhk, Maximilian Götz and Raffaele Marciello in the Mercedes AMG.
The new polesitters started strong, holding their lead for the first 33 laps before they went for their first pitstop, a move which would see them unable to get the lead back for the rest of the race, despite for one sole lap an hour later.
For the next few hours, Maro Engel, Gary Paffett and Luca Stolz battled with Chaz Mostert, Augusto Farfus and Martin Tomczyk for the lead with both cars enjoying solid runs in first place.
Eventually the Aston Martin Vantage of Dennis, Kirchhöfer and Vaxiviere briefly found its way back to the top of the field, before a few different cars had their own time in the lead with the Aston Martin staying in the top three.
Driving alongside German Dirk Werner and Norwegian Dennis Olsen, Campbell’s Earl Bamber Motorsport prepared Porsche 911 GT3 R got its first taste of top spot on lap 234, before losing it again to the Aston Martin when it pitted less than 10 laps later.
For the rest of the race, the Aston Martin and Porsche 911 were locked in a thrilling fight for the lead, with the #108 Bentley Continental of Vincent Abril, Andy Soucek and Maxime Soulet also jumping into the lead for just seven laps before dropping back down to eighth.
With Campbell and Dennis holding driving duties for their final stints, Campbell eventually got the better of Dennis in the dying stages and defended it well as he crossed the line just three seconds ahead of his British rival.
Pole: Jake Dennis, Marvin Kirchhöfer, Matthieu Vaxiviere
Winners: Matt Campbell, Dirk Werner, Dennis Olsen
Runner-up: Jake Dennis, Marvin Kirchhöfer, Matthieu Vaxiviere
Third Place: Maximilian Buhk, Maximilian Götz, Raffaele Marciello
Campbell passed Dennis with just five laps remaining in what was arguably the biggest moment of the day.
Trailing Dennis on lap 307 and piling a heap of pressure, the Queenslander waited for the right moment to pass the Aston Martin and he eventually timed his run perfectly as he overtook the leader through the inside of a corner.
What made the brave move even more impressive was that just four laps earlier, Campbell was in third place and had brilliantly overtaken Marciello in a similar move, making it two crucial passes in the dying stages of the event.
What the winner said.
“I knew it was going to be tough, I didn’t know it was going to be that tough obviously with the other cars starting on older tyres when we had fresh tyres,” Campbell said post-race.
“After a couple of laps, the team radioed in and said it was around 25 seconds or something like that; I knew we had good speed but I had to knuckle down and give it everything I had.
“It was an absolutely phenomenal race I was absolutely perfect towards the end.
“I can’t thank these two (Olsen and Werner) enough, it’s just so awesome to send off the old car like this in its last ever race and also for Earl Bamber Motorsport.
“It’s his first race in GT3 and he did a fantastic job with the team, I really can’t thank them enough.”
1. Earl Bamber Motorsport - Matt Campbell, Norway Dennis Olsen Dirk Werner - Porsche 911 GT3 R
2. Switzerland R-Motorsport - Jake Dennis, Marvin Kirchhöfer, Matthieu Vaxiviere - Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3
3. Mercedes-AMG Team MANN FILTER GruppeM Racing - Maximilian Buhk, Maximilian Götz, Raffaele Marciello - Mercedes-AMG GT3
4. Mercedes-AMG Team Vodafone - Jamie Whincup, Craig Lowndes, Shane van Gisbergen - Mercedes-AMG GT3
5. BMW Team Schnitzer - Augusto Farfus, Chaz Mostert, Martin Tomczyk - BMW M6 GT3
6. Bentley Team M-Sport - Vincent Abril, Andy Soucek, Maxime Soulet Bentley Continental GT3
7. KCMG - Alexandre Imperatori, Oliver Jarvis, Edoardo Liberati - Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3
8. Bentley Team M-Sport - Jules Gounon, Steven Kane, Jordan Pepper - Bentley Continental GT3
9. Spirit of Race - Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda - Ferrari 488 GT3
10. Matt Stone Racing - Todd Hazelwood, Roger Lago, David Russell - Audi R8 LMS
The 2020 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour takes place on 2 February at Mount Panorama in Bathurst.