Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dual Bathurst Champion to join Minda Audi R8 LMS for round one

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Melbourne Performance Centre Press Release

Dual Bathurst Champion to join Minda for round one
PREVIEW: Minda Motorsport, Bathurst, NSW
Rnd#1, Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli - February 8-10

With a new car and the promise of an epic battle at Bathurst’s Mount Panorama for the opening round of the Australian GT [AGT] season, Minda Motorsport’s reigning GT Trophy champions Dean Koutsoumidis and Andrew McInnes knew that if they were going to be competitive outright at the 12-Hour, that they’d need a little help.

“We’d been talking with former AGT regular Simon Middleton about joining us in the R8 for the race, but he’s an ‘old guy’ like us,” McInnes quipped. “When I looked down an early entry list to see who was entered, I realised we were one of few teams without an international ‘hired gun’, so I made a few calls.

“I couldn’t believe that two-time reigning champion Darryl O’Young was without a drive, and having purchased an Audi R8 very similar to that which took him to victory over the last two years, we jumped at the chance to have him on board..”

"I'm very excited to be back for the 12-Hours of Bathurst in the Audi R8 LMS,” O’Young said. “It’s one of my favorite races of the season as Mount Panorama is a spectacular circuit to drive on.  

“I have to thank the team at Minda Motorsport and Equity-One Mortgage Fund for giving me the opportunity to return to the race and try for a three-peat. It wouldn't have been fun watching the race from the sidelines.  

“I'm looking forward to working with my team mates Dean, Andrew, and Simon and my aim will be to help them get the best result they can to get their Australian GT season off to a good start."

Just two weeks out from the first round, in which the team will be contesting the opening event of the 2013 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli AND the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour, the Minda Motorsport team joined Australian Audi Sport customer racing team, Melbourne Motorsport Centre, to shake down their new ex-Rod Salmon R8 LMS.

“It’s very nice to drive,” Dean Koutsoumidis admitted. “It’s obviously a later generation than the LP520 Lamborghini we ran last year, so it’s tighter everywhere. Obviously the Audi is the benchmark at the moment in GT competition, and we wanted to step up this year from the Trophy Class to an outright Championship car, and when the opportunity came to take on Rod’s car, we jumped at it.

“The most obvious difference to me is the visibility, it’s a lot more improved on the Lambo, but aside from that it’s tighter, and you can really feel the aero.”

“It is different to the Lamborghini,” McInnes added, “no question, but it’s probably more manageable in the way that you drive it, because you don’t have to be as aggressive to get a time out of it, and across 12 hours, that will be a godsend.”

For the final member of the team, and arguably the most experienced GT driver in the #71 R8 at Mount Panorama - Simon Middleton - a chance to join the Minda regulars and two-time Bathurst winner O’Young was too good to pass up.

“I sat 2012 out to concentrate on business and family, but I was always hoping to get back into a competitive drive for the 12-Hour, because it’s such a fantastic event,” he admitted.

“The big key in the event is to stay on the lead lap, and be smart about the way you drive and the way you overtake other cars. Having Darryl onboard too, to impart his knowledge on the way the car should be set up will be a big help, so I’m hoping we can put in a strong showing and mix it with the lead group. I can’t wait!”

For the Minda team, Bathurst signals not just the 12-Hour, but the opening round of the 2013 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli, where Dean and Andrew will again share driving duties as they make their debut in the outright Championship Class. "If we keep our noses clean and focus on finishing strongly, I can't see why we wouldn't be fighting for a position in the top five by the end of the season," McInnes admitted. "And if anything slows the progress of the proven front runners, who knows, consistency will be the key, we might just end the season as a threat for the championship..!"

Minda Motorsport is proudly supported by Equity-One Mortgage Fund and Middleton’s Heating and Cooling.

Darryl O’Young - Biography
Darryl is one of Asia’s most successful and versatile drivers, having raced in a variety of categories around the world, including DTM, WTCC, FIA GT, Porsche Supercup, Porsche World Cup, Nurburgring VLN, and in events such as the Le Mans 24-Hours, 24-Hours of Daytona, 24-Hours of Dubai, 24-Hours of Spa to name just a few, he has also chalked up an impressive array of results, including;

• 3x Macau Grand Prix GT winner (2005, 2006, 2008)
• 2x WTCC Independent Class Macau Grand Prix winner
• 2x Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Champion (2006, 2008)
• 2x Bathurst 12-Hour winner (Audi R8 2010, 2011)
• Outright winner 12-Hours of Sepang (Porsche 2008)

2013 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli - calendar
Rnd#1, 8-10 February - Bathurst 12-Hour, NSW
Rnd#2, 28 Feb - 3 March - Clipsal, Adelaide, SA
Rnd#3, 24-26 May - Phillip Island, Victoria
Rnd#4, 12-14 July - Sydney Motorsport Park, NSW
Rnd#5, 2-4 August - Queensland Raceway, Ipswich, QLD
Rnd#6, 8-10 November - Highland Motorsport Park, NZ

For more information, please contact Minda Motorsport on 03 5995 3943.