Class podium at Bathurst debut for SPS automotive performance

In its first appearance at the Bathurst 12 Hour, SPS automotive performance secured a podium finish in the Pro-Am class. Ian James (GBR), Alex Riberas (ESP) and Ross Gunn (GBR) drove the #27 Mercedes-AMG GT3 under the Heart of Racing by SPS banner to second place in their category in an eventful race.

The cooperation between SPS automotive performance and The Heart of Racing made its debut at this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour on the Mount Panorama Circuit in Australia. The team and drivers were able to adapt well to the extremely challenging track in the practice sessions and attracted attention with good lap times. In qualifying for this traditional event, the #27 Mercedes-AMG GT3 finished fifth on the grid in the Pro-Am class.

Ian James took over the start at 05:45 local time as team principal of The Heart of Racing. James and his team-mates took a more cautious approach to the opening phase, which was still run in the dark, with an eye on strategy. However, the trio moved forward in the first few hours with an almost flawless performance in the 29-car field and were already in second place in their category after six hours. Shortly after the halfway point of the race, heavy rain started to fall in places. The resulting incidents led to several safety car phases, which repeatedly pushed the field together and did not allow any large gaps between the competitors. An exciting three-way battle for victory in the Pro-Am class developed in the final third of the race. The race was characterised by constant lead changes. Another safety car phase in the final hour of the race brought the Pro-Am leading trio back into close contention. Final driver Ross Gunn battled for victory on a drying track until the final laps but dropped back to third place after an unfortunate drive-through penalty with a good 20 minutes to go. But Gunn did not give up. With very fast laps, the Briton made up the deficit and took over second position shortly before the end of the race, which he finished after 274 laps. This second place in the Pro-Am class also meant an excellent tenth position overall in the first appearance on the Mount Panorama Circuit.

Alex Riberas, #27 Heart of Racing by SPS: “That was probably the craziest race I’ve ever seen. I’m very happy that we made it to the finish. Many thanks to SPS and Mercedes-AMG. The package was fantastic this weekend. The car was running great, we didn’t have one problem and not a single scratch on the car. As we were all here for the first time, I am positively surprised by the result. To drive home with a podium finish is a very good result. The win would have been possible without the penalty, but I’m still very proud of the whole team.”

Stephan Sohn, team principal SPS automotive performance: “I am very happy with our result. Of course, the drive-through penalty was very unlucky, but things like that can happen. The team did a great job and we brought the car home safely, which is not a matter of course on this incredibly demanding track and in these sometimes very poor weather conditions. It was a great experience to compete here with Heart of Racing. Many thanks to the drivers and the whole team.”

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