Kenny Habul’s SunEnergy1 Mercedes-AMG GT3 team has clinched back-to-back titles at the famous Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour at Mt Panorama.
After an impressive early stint on old tyres, Habul managed his team’s strategy from the garage as his teammates Jules Gounon and Luca Stolz kept their entry at the front.
In one of the most thrilling finishes in the race’s history, the iconic #75 Mercedes got to the chequered flag ahead of the Porsche of Matt Campbell and fellow Mercedes of Maro Engel.
The three cars were covered by just 1.4 seconds after 323 laps, 2006kms and more than four hours of green-lap racing to the finish.
Stoltz started the race and handed over to Habul on old tyres at 6.45am. Habul then battled the polarizing sunrise and continually set lap times in the 2:05s to keep in touch with the lead pack.
With approximately 50 minutes remaining in the race, Engel was putting enormous pressure on Gounon and actually turned him around at The Chase.
Gounon managed to keep his car going and while Engel inherited the lead briefly after the incident, he was given a drive through penalty and rejoined the track in third.
Campbell benefitted from the incident and managed to close the gap on the leaders, putting enormous pressure on Gounon, who showed unrelenting resolve in front.
It was the second consecutive victory for the three drivers in the SunEnergy1 entry at the 12-hour in a car prepared this year by Akkodis ASP (AKKA) from France.
It was again an emotional day for Habul who has boyhood memories from Mt Panorama, where he worked cleaning wheels for his racing hero Peter Brock.
He actually owns a property on Conrod Straight, just 200m from where the incident at The Chase happened.
WHAT KENNY HAD TO SAY…..
“It is unbelievable,” said Habul.
“Luca (Stolz) and Jules (Gounon) did an amazing job and really drove the balls off this car.
“I want to thank Mercedes (AMG) for a great car and AKKA for doing such a professional job.
“I was proud of my own drive on old tyres and to do the job needed to give us a shot of winning outright.
“It is always special to get a good result here, but amazing when you leave with the winner’s trophy.
“I want to thank all the people of Bathurst for hosting us and really making us feel welcome and getting behind the SunEnergy1 team.
“I am lucky enough to own a home here, but the local community has made me feel like one of their own.
“To win this race once was a dream, to win it twice is really incredible and I cannot thank everyone involved enough for their efforts.
“I think I will now celebrate by running around the track naked and that’s before we have a celebratory drink tonight.”