Warwick driver claims second Bathurst title

The winning car. Pictures and race wrap courtesy of 2024 Supercars Australia.

The young man who family friends say pestered his family to take him Bathurst has now won the Repco Bathurst 12 Hour race – twice.

Warwick’s Matt Campbell, who grew up racing Go Karts and Datsuns at Morgan Park in Warwick, etched his name into the history books as a two-time winner of the 12-hour adding his weekend victory to the 2019 title.

“It feels awesome, obviously second win, a tough day the wind, the weather and everything like that and hats off to everyone at Manthey EMA racing we were always running at the front,” he said after the race.

“It wasn’t easy in mixed conditions but to Larry and Ayhancan they did a fantastic job, we kept it off the walls. It was phenonomal. My second win and it’s unreal.

“It’s been a great start to the year.”

Campbell, along with teammates Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Ayhancan Güven (Turkey) brought home the win for the 912 Porsche, with Manthey EMA delivering victory despite a penalty and compromised strategy.

Campbell denied defending Champion Jules Gounon a record fourth straight win after a Safety Car restart late in the race.

The 29-year-old, whose grandfather was instrumental in setting up the Warwick Morgan Park Raceway, had already won the Rolex 24 at Daytona two weeks ago paired with team-mates Laurens Vanthoor and Ayhancan Güven, who claimed their first wins in the race.

Gounon, less than three seconds from a fourth win, still managed to deliver a third straight podium for SunEnergy1 Racing, Luca Stolz and Kenny Habul after a tense battle in the dying minutes.

The Andorran driver was forced to hold off a charging 2024 Supercars’ rookie Jaxon Evans, with an attack at The Chase helping the 22 Wash It Team MPC Audi of Christopher Haase/Kelvin van der Linde/Liam Talbot clinch third.

The move also denied the 46 BMW of former two-wheeler Valentino Rossi and codrivers Maxime Martin/Raffaele Marciello and Team WRT a podium, on a day the sister pole-sitting car dramatically crashed out in the first half of the race.

The day was filled with drama and crashes, including an incident early where the pole-position winning BMW being driven by Charles Weerts spectacularly ended its day early when it crashed into a slower competitor, before riding the fence at The Cutting with its rear wheels in the air.

A record eight cars finished on the lead lap, with six cars — including the 32 car WRT BMW and 77 car Craft-Bamboo Mercedes-AMG — not classified.

After the nine-hour mark, Campbell’s co-driver Güven took the lead from Thomas Randle, who was a surprise leader in the 222 STM Mercedes-AMG after a well-timed Full Course Yellow period.

When Campbell resumed, the 912 Porsche was 12 seconds ahead of a rapidly-closing Gounon however the race turned on its head again when the 701 Vortex, driven by Julien Boillot, hit trouble.

Boillot rotated at Griffins Bend, and in an effort to right the car, got stuck on the kerb and set grass, triggering another Safety Car wiping out Campbell’s 12-second lead over Gounon.

Campbell led Gounon, Evans, Martin, Haase, Waters, and Grenier to green, with Engel nine seconds behind in traffic. Campbell fired in a 2:06.2632s on his standing lap, while Gounon lost 1.5s in one lap alone and fell into the clutches of Evans and Martin.

By the end of the second flying lap, Campbell opened a 2.8s lead, with Gounon fighting the 75 SunEnergy1 Mercedes-AMG under fading light at Mount Panorama.

Campbell cleared the 230 Method Motorsport McLaren of Tom McLennan, but Gounon wasn’t as fortunate, losing four seconds into Forrest’s Elbow. It helped Campbell open up a 6.3s lead with 16 minutes remaining.

As Campbell cruised to a 2:05.3709s on what proved the penultimate lap, Gounon and Haase went into the 2:03s. Campbell then caught the 702 IRC,but pushed the margin back out to 3.7s, eventually winning by the official margin of 2.6336s.

Long-time Warwick and District Sporting Car Club and Morgan Park Committee member Brian Dunn said when Campbell won Daytona late last month “it was a head-spinning moment for the club” to have someone who cut their teeth on the local course win one of the biggest events in the world in the sport.

“He’s just got a natural talent and to get to the level he has on the world stage, this is top of the world performance stuff as far as sports cars go and to drive for Porsche and Penske that’s the pinnacle.”

Another car club member and old family friend, who wished not to be named echoed Dunn’s sentiment that he was still a Warwick boy, reminiscing about watching him grow up and race at Morgan Park.

“He used to love going to Bathurst. He was going there from 10 or 11 to watch the races down there. He pestered them to take him down there,” he laughed.

“He still really loves coming home to drive Bathurst.”