Tom Blomqvist kicked off his 2020 season in fine form as he and his 59 Racing teammates took second place at the Bathurst 12 Hours in what was Tom’s first-ever appearance at the Mount Panorama Circuit.
Joining Ben Barnicoat and Alvaro Parente in the 59 Racing #60 McLaren 720s GT3, Tom joined a strong driver lineup for the 12 hour endurance race at the Mount Panorama Circuit in New South Wales, Australia.
Despite a few setbacks in practice, Tom was still able to get to grips with his McLaren and the Mount Panorama Circuit as he posted his first-ever miles in the car, and at the circuit. For qualifying, Alvaro Parente and Ben Barnicoat took the qualifying duties and managed to get the McLaren through to the top-ten shootout.
Alvaro then set a blistering lap time in the shootout to qualify the team in second place for the 2020 Bathurst 12 Hours.
Starting the race in the darkness of Sunday morning, Ben Barnicoat took driver duties for the first stint of the race and followed the #999 Mercedes passed the pole sitting #911 Porsche and ran in second place until the race hit 20 minutes. Barnicoat then made a late move on the #999 Mercedes and squeezed through into the lead of the race with minimal contact.
Tom’s first stint of the race came with just under eight hours left on the clock and with the McLaren still in the fight for the race victory. With the McLaren strongest in the cooler conditions, Tom’s stint came as the temperatures began to reach peak numbers but Tom rose to the challenge and delivered a sublime first stint.
Averaging 2:05-lap times, Tom’s first race stint at the Bathurst 12 Hours was extremely impressive in tough conditions and he took over the lead of the race at the end of his stint before handing the car over to Ben Barnicoat.
Despite struggling with clutch issues in the second half of the race, the McLaren team also overcame two penalties during the race to stay within touching distance of the podium places. With the race drawing closer to its conclusion, Tom was in the car for the final hour of the race and was locked into an intense fight to the checkered flag.
As the race approached the final ten minutes, Tom was running in third place when the #999 Mercedes came into the pits for a quick stop, promoting Tom to second. However, Tom was on double-stint tyres and had to nurse them attentively as several cars experienced tyre failures in the final hour.
On the penultimate lap of the race, the #999 Mercedes caught and overtook Tom, demoting Tom to third place from where he took the checkered flag. However, Tom and the team were promoted to second place after the Mercedes was handed a post-race penalty for a pitstop infringement.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to finish on the podium at my first-ever attempt at Bathurst! It wasn’t an easy race, we had a few complications across the twelve hours but the team and my teammates did such an amazing job to make sure we fought through it all. We weren’t expecting to have such strong race pace and to be on the podium was quite a miracle.
The final hour was so intense, we had a clutch issue in the second half of the race then we had a tyre concern in the final 30 minutes, it was just a matter of survival. Seeing the checkered flag was such a relief and to finish in second place at the end of it is such a huge achievement for everyone.
A massive thank you to 59 Racing, McLaren and my teammates for an unforgettable weekend - I can’t wait to come back again!”
Image courtesy of 59 Racing / McLaren Customer Racing
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