Sunday, September 23, 2012

Close but no second victory for Lowndes‏ Audi in Aus GT

Melbourne Performance Centre Press Release

Close but no second victory for Lowndes

Rnd#5 Australian GT Championship - Review: Race two (1-hour) Sunday, September 24, 2012

After taking his maiden GT victory during the opening one-hour ‘enduro’ at Phillip Island during the fifth round of the Australian GT Championship, Craig Lowndes was unable to back-up that win with a second in race two, settling for third behind the Mercedes-Benz duo of Maro Engel and Peter Hackett.

Off pole position courtesy of his win in the opening stanza, Lowndes controlled the pace heading to the line, but Engel was too quick, the acceleration of the Mercedes AMG SLS allowing the German to get into turn one first.

Engel and Lowndes then ran to the mid-point of the race nose-to-tail, with little more than half a second separating them. Engel was the first to pit at the end of lap 20, allowing Lowndes to run in clean air and establish a gap to the chasing pack.

Engel changed right side tyres to prepare for the second half of the race, as Lowndes pressed on into the low 32s. Lapping faster than anyone else in the field, he came up on Martin Wagg in the Aston Martin and looked for a move around the outside at turn one. Wagg clearly hadn’t seen the fast approaching Audi and he moved across on him at the exit of the turn.

“Thank god these things have ABS,” Lowndes admitted afterwards. “I thought he’d seen me, but clearly he hadn’t and he closed the door on me pretty hard.”

The move held Lowndes up for almost a complete lap, the Audi finally making its way past on the main straight, but the damage was done.

Four laps after Engel, Lowndes was into the pits having stretched his lead to more than 60-seconds. The Pirelli tyre pressures were checked and the car was sent out in the lead, but as he turned into turn one, Klark Quinn, Engel and Hackett forced their way past, dropping the Audi back to fourth.

From there it was fait-accompli with Engel quickly through on Quinn to break away from the pack, the pace having dropped by more than two seconds a lap behind the Porsche driver.

With Engel more than three seconds in front, Hackett had a big dive at Quinn into turn one four laps later, forcing the Porsche pilot well off line allowing Lowndes to follow him through to third. From there it was game over, the big Benz - although clearly suffering from tyre degredation - was able to hold the Audi at bay courtesy of its superior horsepower, Lowndes forced to settle for third.

“In the end we just didn’t have the power to break free, and I probably lost the advantage of the run after Maro pitted when Martin Wagg moved over on me, but that’s the way it works sometimes,” Lowndes shrugged post-race. “I needed track position, but once I’d lost that, with the aero effect these cars have, it’s difficult to get close enough to make a move stick.”

Whilst Lowndes celebrated his third position, fellow Audi R8 pilots John Briggs and Rod Salmon too were all smiles, Briggs an impressive seventh, but it could have been much better.

“I’m getting a great feel for the car, and getting used to the ABS and the ASR. Unfortunately in pressing hard to make up a position, I spun trying to get around Ash Samadi at Honda. I’m disappointed in myself because I should have waited another corner and I would have had him. In the end the boys suggested I was on track for a fourth or fifth placed finish, so I’m pretty happy with that, especially after the way the weekend started.”

After struggling with a fuel issue on day one, a change of filter and pressure regulator had Rod Salmon back on the pace in his OneWorld Bar R8, but the multiple Bathurst 12-Hour winner wasn’t 100% comfortable.

“Eighth is okay, but it could have been better, we’ll go away and look at why the fuel consumption was so high on my car - something that contributed to my dramas yesterday - and get it sorted for the Gold Coast next month,” he said. “It’s always nice to put the car back in the trailer in one piece though.”

For the Melbourne Performance Centre team, it’s on to the penultimate round of the Australian GT Championship on the streets of the Gold Coast in one month’s time on October 19-21 where Rod Salmon and John Briggs will again do battle with the regular series contenders.

Rnd#5 Australian GT Championship
Race Two - Sunday, September 23, 2012
1. Maro Engel (Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG) - 37-laps - best: 1:31.9123 (lap 2)
2. Peter Hackett (Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG) - best: 1:32.3671 (lap 4)
3. Craig Lowndes (Audi R8 LMS GT3/Pirelli) - best: 1:31.7964 (lap 2)
4. Klark Quinn (Porsche Type 997 RSR) - best: 1:32.0319 (lap 2)
5. Simonsen/O’Halloran (Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) - best: 1:31.2837 (lap 23)
6. Samadi/Grant (Mosler MT900 GT3) - best: 1:34.8538 (lap 16)
7. John Briggs (Audi R8 LMS GT3) - best: 1:34.9367 (lap 9)
8. Rod Salmon (Audi R8 LMS GT3/Pirelli) - best 1:36.8024 (lap 3)
9. Koutsoumidis/McInnes (Lamborghini LP520) - best 1:35.6206 (lap 3)
10. Tony Defelice (Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia) - best: 1.34.6791 (lap 28)

2012 Australian GT Championship - calendar
Rnd#1, 1-4 March - Clipsal, Adelaide, SA
Rnd#2, 25-27 May - Phillip Island, Victoria
Rnd#3, 22-24 June - Winton, Victoria
Rnd#4, 13-15 July - Eastern Creek, Sydney, NSW
Rnd#5, 21-23 September - Phillip Island, Victoria
Rnd#6, 19-21 October - Gold Coast, Queensland
Rnd#7, 30-2 December - Homebush, Sydney, NSW

2012 Australian GT Championship - series points
(after round five of seven)
1. Peter Hackett (Mercedes-Benz) - 128 points
2. Klark Quinn (Porsche) - 114
3. Peter Edwards (Ferrari) - 92
4. Greg Crick  (Dodge Viper) - 56
5. Ben Eggleston (Aston Martin) - 54
6. Roger Lago (Lamborghini) - 52
7. James Brock (Mercedes-Benz) - 47
8. Nick O'Halloran (Ferrari) - 39
9. Maro Engel (Mercedes-Benz) - 38
10. Tony Quinn (Mosler) - 36
11. Craig Lowndes (Audi) - 32
12. John Briggs (Audi) - 25
13. Jim Manolios/Rod Wilson (Corvette) – 22
14. Martin Wagg (Aston Martin) - 18
15. Rod Salmon (Audi) - 17

Melbourne Performance Centre is proudly supported by One World Bar, Pirelli Australia, The Audi Race Experience, PH Motorsport Trailers - supplier of the new Audi Sports Customer racing transporter, BluFi Wireless Australia, Questek Australia,  and Top Gun Restorations.

Melbourne Performance Centre
Since 2004, Victorian motorsport enthusiasts Lee Burley and Troy Russell have operated Melbourne Performance Centre [MPC], a professional motorsport operation dedicated to ‘gentleman’ [and lady] racers. 

Their business model is simple; to provide fellow enthusiasts and competitors a range of services [that includes a Mainline AWD1500 4WD dynometer] that will enhance their experience with the sport, from the build, preparation and engineering of race cars, to transportation and support at the circuit.

Audi Driving Experience
Get behind the wheel yourself to discover a new level of excitement with the Audi Driving Experience. Refine your technique, develop more skilled control at higher speeds and pursue the ultimate in performance.

From advanced programs, right through to the Audi race experience, there is a program to suit every kind of driver.

The Audi Driving Experience makes use of a range of Audi’s vehicles, from sports road cars right through to their Bathurst winning race vehicles. From Audi’s advanced driving courses, you can move through to the Audi sportscar experience and finally, the Audi race experience where you can slip behind the wheel of the Audi R8 LMS GT3 racecar that holds the mantel of Australian GT and Bathurst 12-Hour Champion.

To find out more, call Melbourne Performance Centre today.

Melbourne Performance Centre
521 Mountain Highway,
Bayswater VIC 3153
Phone: 03 9738 2294
Fax: 03 9738 2296