After a flawless team effort at the 2020 Bathurst 12 Hour, Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo BLACK FALCON completes another successful but challenging weekend at the Australian endurance classic. Making its debut in the highly competitive 36 car field, the new-for-2020 Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Mercedes-AMG factory drivers Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Yelmer Buurman at the wheel fought at the front all race long, and led the race on several occasions, displaying their highly competitive pace.
The LVGEM-sponsored #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was running in 3rd position and looked to score a podium result, but a tyre puncture 20 minutes from the end destroyed any chances of a top-three finish. Despite the misfortune near the end, the #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3 still finished in P5 at the end of the gruelling Bathurst 12 Hour.
Top-Ten Shootout Result
P6 – 2:04.0769
Luca Stolz took the start from 6th Position in the darkness, and immediately applied pressure on the Porsche in front. After 20 minutes, Stolz managed to spot an opportunity and moved up to 5th place. After being released, he pushed hard and closed up the gap to the 4th placed car. However, two safety car periods soon followed, and great pit-work from the crew meant Stolz moved up one position during his scheduled stop. Stolz’s great pace meant that he was soon on the back of the 3rd placed car.
However just as Stolz was reaching his driving time limit, a well-timed safety car period was called and Yelmer Buurman took over the driving duties of the #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3, emerging from the pits in 3rd position. When the race resumed, Buurman was on the tail of the second placed car, and found his way past almost immediately. He set his sights on the leader, and maintained a good gap all stint long.
Engel took over with just over half distance to go, and emerged from the pit-lane in the middle of the pack. His pace in traffic saw the #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3 reduce the crucial gap to the leader to a minimum, and ran as high as 2nd place during his stint. He then relinquished the controls to teammate Yelmer Buurman, with the team keeping Engel’s final stint for the end.
Buurman’s stint was fairly straightforward, with the Dutchman keeping up great race pace, keeping an eye on the leaders but also maintaining the tyres and fuel. However with just over 5 hours to go, a safety car period meant that the team took the opportunity to pit Buurman from 2nd place to hand the car to Luca Stolz. Once emerging from the pits, Stoltz fought hard to close the gap to the leader, but traffic during his stint cost him valuable time. After taking over the lead of the race towards the end of his stint, Stolz put in great lap times to hand the car over to teammate Buurman in a prime position with 3hr 20 minutes to go.
Going into the final phase of the 12-hour endurance, Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Black Falcon was in prime position to fight for victory, with just less than ten cars on the lead lap. After the round of pit-stops, Buurman emerged in 3rd place, and soon after, a fifth safety car period was called. The gaps closed right up and on the restart, Buurman was right on the back of the second placed Mercedes-AMG. Despite pushing hard and seeking every opportunity, the Dutchman wasn’t able to find a way past due to the equal performance of the cars and the tight and twisty nature of the Bathurst circuit.
Maro Engel took over for the final two stints and re-joined the race in P5. In what was an overtaking masterclass at Mount Panorama, Engel’s strong pace saw him close up on the cars in front, and wasted no time in find a way past. With the podium positions up for grabs just up ahead, he took the opportunity going into the final corner and passed the Nissan. Soon after, he was on the back of the fourth-placed McLaren and again, decisively scythed his way past and at Forest Elbow. Pursuing forward, Engel soon came up on the 3rd placed Porsche, and at the high-speed Skyline section, passed for 3rd place. With just half an hour to go, 3rd position seemed secured. However, with 20 minutes to go, Engel picked up a puncture, forcing the team to make an unforeseen tyre change and dropped down to P6. At the finish, post-race penalties for the cars ahead saw the #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Engel, Stolz and Buurman finish in P5, below the team’s expectations after running at the front for the whole race.
Craft-Bamboo Racing would like to thank LVGEM for their continued support, the drivers, engineers and crew for the effort that allowed the team to be in contention for victory all weekend long before the unfortunate tyre puncture which denied a podium result.
Darryl O’Young | Director of Craft-Bamboo Racing
“I hate leaving Bathurst with disappointment but that’s exactly what we had today. We fought hard all weekend, the car was great and the drivers and team really were faultless all weekend. We were running P3 with 20 minutes to go, but a puncture at the end was gut-wrenching, causing us to drop out of contention. It’s always tough to have these situations and needless to say the team is disappointed. But I’m proud of the guys, we were fighting at the top all weekend and missed the podium. We’ll have to come back next year to see if we can fight for it again. Thanks to LVGEM for their support at our second IGTC race together, and also the great partnership with Mercedes-AMG and Team Black Falcon.”
Maro Engel | Driver #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“Big thanks to Craft-Bamboo Black Falcon, it was an stellar team effort and great to see these two top teams working together. The car was amazing to drive, and I feel sorry for the whole team because that puncture with 20 minutes to go cost us P3 at the time and what would have been P2, and the team deserved the podium. It’s a shame but that’s motorsport and we’re all aware that these things happen and it hurts. But we showed a really strong race and successfully ran the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the first time as a performance team and showed that it was very competitive. Plenty of positives to take away, and looking forward to what the future holds. This one for sure hurts, but we’ll be back next year to give it another shot.”
Yelmer Buurman | Driver #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“It’s been a good weekend up till the last 20 minutes. We were competitive right from the practice sessions and even in the qualifying. We started P5 and in a 12 hour race it is a perfect starting position. The race was going really well, the team did a perfect job and together with my teammates we were fighting for the top positions but unfortunately we had some issues with debris that caused us to lose a bit of pace, and struggled to overtake towards the end of the race. Still we were in good positions and closed in to the leaders before losing the tyre to a slow puncture. It was such a shame as we should have been on the podium, and would have even gotten 2nd place. Disappointed but that’s the way it is. Really enjoyed racing for Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Black Falcon, the car was prepared really nicely and I’m looking forward to the next time.”
Luca Stolz | Driver #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“It was a weekend with ups and downs, it was really special to take the start here at Mount Panorama, starting in the pitch black and racing into the sunrise was an amazing feeling. We were running in the top five in the race all the time, but suffered a puncture in the last 20 minutes. That was really shame and not what the team deserved after the hard work all weekend. But that’s motorsport sometimes and I’m still happy with P5 after such a difficult race. Really looking forward to having another chance at fighting for the win here. I think the mix of Craft-Bamboo Black Falcon worked really well, but there is a bright future ahead and hope to be back again.”