Thursday, October 10, 2013

Bathurst 12 Hour: Bright joins Audi for outright attack on Bathurst 12-Hour

Melbourne Performance Centre Press Release

Bright joins Audi for outright attack on Bathurst 12-Hour
Melbourne Performance Centre Audi R8 LMS ultra
2014 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour
Mount Panorama, Bathurst (February 7-9)

Dual Bathurst 12-Hour champion Rod Salmon has revealed that Jason Bright will join his Audi R8 squad for an assault on the 2014 Bathurst 12-Hour - the Bathurst 24-Hour and 1000 champion joining Salmon, Warren Luff and Liam Talbot behind the wheel of the #6 Audi R8 LMS ultra for an all-out attack on the outright victory.

“We’re going for the win,” Salmon admitted matter-of-factly. “Don’t think for a minute that we’re just going out there to run around in the top ten, we want victory.

“After the disappointment of this year where the car was damaged during my stint we looked at what we needed to do to take the win next year. I’d already decided we needed four drivers to give me more of a chance to rest between stints, and we knew we needed to find some more speed from the car to match the Mercedes, the Ferrari and the Lamborghini. Those decisions though took a slight back-seat when Craig Lowndes revealed he was going elsewhere next year, so we went looking for a driver of equal caliber, and on Luffy’s advice, we spoke to Jason.

“I’m overjoyed. To have a driver of his experience join us is fantastic. Yes I’m disappointed that we lost Craig, but I’d have been more disappointed if we’d lost Warren. I think he’s the better driver in these cars, so with him anchoring the team, I think we take a far stronger package into 2014.”

“I’ve worked with Brighty a lot over the years,” Luff explained. “I drove for his Britek team in V8 Supercars, and I know how professional he is with every aspect of his driving. This year he did Le Mans, he did the 12-Hour in February, and he’s won the 24-Hour at Bathurst. He’s also a 1000 race winner, and he’ll have no trouble adapting to the Audi.”

“I’m looking forward to it, it’s going to be an experience” Bright admitted. “I’m also looking forward to going to the 12-Hour for the first time in a car and a team that is in contention for an outright win.

“I’ve been looking at the way the Audis have been running in Europe this year too, and they’ve been quick all season. I hear that they’re due a parity adjustment too towards the end of the year, and that might be just what they need to tackle the Mercedes for their [Audi] third win on the mountain.”

“There’s no question that it’s the Mercedes and Ferrari teams that we’ll be battling next year,” Luff added. “They were so quick in a straight line last year, but couldn’t match us across the top of the mountain - if we get a little more straight line speed, then we’ll be there, no question.”

So what of the specification of the #6 Performance Centre Audi?
“We’re in discussion about that now,” Salmon admitted. “The talk from Europe is that the FIA made a mistake with the pre-season parity modifications for the new 2013 Audi R8 ultra. It was initially supposed to have a much bigger aero package, but perhaps they’d been too competitive over recent seasons, because they not only didn’t get the major modifications they were hoping for like Ferrari and Lamborghini, but they also received a restrictor penalty which slowed them down. Look at all the major European championships this year and the Audis have only really figured because of their impressive reliability and great strategy, they rarely qualify at the front.

“We’ll look at it based on what the factory tell us and if making the 2013 upgrade will improve the car - even half a second a lap - we’ll do it. We didn’t make the change to the 2013 ultra package earlier in the year, because it may well have been a slower option than the 2012 upgrade we had at the end of last year. It’s a bit of a waiting game at present.”

Unlike 2013 where Salmon was joined by Luff and Lowndes for a three-driver assault on the 12-Hour, Bathurst 2014 will see four drivers sharing the duties, with rookie Liam Talbot joining Salmon, Luff and Bright.

“Liam joined me at Queensland Raceway for the fifth round of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli, and he’ll be alongside at Highlands in New Zealand next month,” Salmon explained. “He’s only relatively knew to the sport, but he’s covered a lot of miles in the last 18-months, and I think he’ll be a great asset to the team.”

“He’ll surprise a few people I think,” Luff added. “I’ve done some driving with him here in Queensland with Porsche and he’s very good. He’s done a lot of miles with Radical this year, and he’s done a number of events at the Nurburgring in Germany with Aston Martin, and with my experience over there, he’s talked to me a lot about what to expect. He’s only relatively young, but he’s keen to learn, and he showed at QR just how quick he can be in the Audi, so he’ll be a valuable asset to the team.”

As for what having four drivers does to Salmon’s time in the car, that will be determined by their position in the field mid-race.

“If we’re fighting for the lead at the mid point of the race, I might leave the boys to battle it out, but if we’re a lap or two down and out of the chase, Brighty might be assigned to signing autographs and kissing babies..” Salmon laughed.

“I admit that I made a minor mistake this year. I had just completed my third hour of driving out of the five hours we had raced and I was pretty stuffed.

“I missed my line by only a millimetre coming out of the Dipper and ended up grazing the exit with the left rear requiring three laps in the pits to check possible damage; that’s all it takes to put you out of contention. 

“With four drivers next year, I’ll be doing my fair share, but that extra driver will allow us to juggle the pit windows with the maximum allotted time to ensure there’s more time to rest between stints. 

“I want that third win, and all our efforts are focused on achieving that. We have one of the very best teams in the business with Melbourne Performance Centre, we’ll have a terrific driver lineup, and if we manage to find some more speed out of the car, even better. At the end of the day, the team and the drivers will make up for some of that speed deficit based on experience, so whichever way you look at it, we’ll be there in the mix somewhere. I can’t wait!!”

The 2014 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour gets underway on February 7, with the 12-Hour event starting at 6:15am on Sunday, February 9.

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

The Audi Race Experience
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521 Mountain Highway,
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