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Bathurst 12 Hour winner Robin Frijns says his WRT Audi R8 LMS would likely have run out of fuel had the race not been interrupted before the finish.
Last weekend’s epic contest at Mount Panorama boiled down to a tense fuel race inside the final hour, with a number of crews – including the leading WRT Audi – sweating on fuel as the clocked ticked down.
The economy test was ultimately spoiled by a huge crash between Ash Walsh and John Martin with 20 minutes to go, which led to the race being red flagged and then called off with 11 minutes left on the clock.
Audi factory driver Frijns was adamant that the stoppage spared him from running out of fuel in the final stint.
“Jamie [Whincup] and I were saving a lot of fuel,” said Frijns.
“I had a gap [to Whincup] of about three or four seconds, and I was trying to keep it. I was pushing, but I was trying to save as much fuel as I could.
“I don’t think we would have made it if it was full-on green, so we were hoping for a safety car. Eventually the safety car came.”
Whincup was in a similar position in the #75 Mercedes he shared with Tristan Vautier, Kenny Habul and Raffaele Marciello, admitting he also would have either needed to stop or risk being left stranded.
“No, we wouldn’t have,” he said when asked if he would have made the end.
“But that’s motorsport. We would’ve made it with a couple of safety car laps.
“If the safety car didn’t come we would’ve had to pit, and we would’ve dropped a few spots and potentially may not have been on the podium.
“But everyone had that call to make. We made the call, some days it works, some days it doesn’t.
“As it turns out, we had too much fuel. We should’ve gone harder and used more!”
The Craft-Bamboo factory-backed Porsche outfit that finished third on the road felt it would have made the finish without any issues.
The #991 car was eventually demoted to fifth for a software glitch that meant Laurens Vanthoor spent too long at the wheel.
“We had a shot for the win, because we had the fuel saved,” said team boss Darryl O’Young.
“Earl [Bamber] did an amazing job keeping the fuel numbers down while maintaining a pace.
“We’re quite confident out competitors both had to stop for fuel, and we would have made it.
“In the end there was a software issue for us. And it ended up calculating two minutes over Laurens’ drive time.
“It was mainly due to this race counting pitstops on the double stints, so it was a miscalculation on the software.
“We chose to go fuel save, because it could have been the difference. We knew we could do it if we just did the numbers.”