MARC Cars Australia has raced to an emotional victory at today’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, after dominating the Invitational Class lead by the #91 MARC Focus V8 team of Australian F4 champion Will Brown, Keith Kassulke and multiple 12 Hour winner Rod Salmon.
Steering ‘Amaroo’ – the first car ever build in the MARC Cars program – the result not only saw Kassulke and Brown enter the winner’s circle at the famed 6.2km circuit, but it was Kassulke’s first endurance title on home soil since being injured at a Victorian race meeting 15 months ago.
Having endured an extensive road to recovery after suffering severe burns, following an incident when his Ascari KZ1R GT3 caught fire at a Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit meeting in October 2015, Kassulke returned to Mount Panorama for the first time this weekend determined to achieve the result he set out to.
“This is without a doubt the best ever moment,” said an emotional Kassulke. “I’ve come close a few times with second and third places but I finally got the win and what a place to get it, at the Bathurst 12 Hour. Last year I was pretty sick and I didn’t even watch the race, but it was always my plan to come back here this year, and the win is absolutely amazing.
“I didn’t realise how many Bathurst races Rod had won before I arrived, and I was very impressed with how mature young Will was, and how listened to feedback, and he did a very good job to bring the car home. The whole day was nail biting stuff in the MARC Cars garage and to be honest I just feel my most happy when I’m racing in my car with all of my racing friends. It’s an incredible feeling.”
Last year, Kassulke completed only a handful of Australia GT Trophy events, before earning back his international racing licence to compete at the 24 Hours of Brno in October and Sepang 12 Hours in December. MARC Cars Australia owner Ryan McLeod said he believed there was nobody more dedicated to their racing than Kassulke.
“Keith is ultra competitive, he’s a team player, he’s been with us since the start and he ordered the first car off the plans, he’s never wavered in support for the MARC Cars program but he’s never won here,” admitted McLeod. “And then long the way he’s had this major upheaval in his life and it would take a lot of people a long time to get back to normal everyday life, let alone achieve what Keith has. He deserves this win immensely.”
Finishing second in Class I was the #92 Castrol MARC Focus V8 team of car owner Mick Benton, Hadrian Morrall and the father son duo of Glenn and Aaron Seton. Third was last year’s Class I victor and Australian GT Trophy class champion Jake Camilleri, alongside Jack Smith and Rob Thompson in the #93 Enviro-Tek MARC Mazda 3 V8. While the EFS Racing team of Geoff Taunton, Jason Busk and Dunlop Series driver Bryce Fullwood finished fourth in class in the #95 EFS MARC Focus V8.
The 2017 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour saw the largest ever MARC Cars operation to date with a total of seven cars, 23 drivers and more than 80 crew coming from around Australia and internationally to work the three-day event at Mount Panorama.