Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Highlands 101: MPC make surprise driver announcement ahead of NZ

Melbourne Performance Centre Press Release

MPC make surprise driver announcement ahead of NZ
Melbourne Performance Centre Audi R8 LMS ultra
Rnd#6 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli
Highlands Motorsport Park, NZ (November 8-10)

The Melbourne Performance Centre [MPC] team has made a surprise eleventh hour addition to their driver lineup for the double-header Australian GT/Highlands 101 event in New Zealand next weekend, revealing that 2014 Bathurst 12-Hour recruit Jason Bright will join them for the Highlands 101 enduro for some valuable miles in the Skwirk.com.au Audi R8.

“It was very much a last minute deal put together by MPC, but important ahead of next year’s 12-Hour,” car owner Rod Salmon confirmed.

“It’s ideal for me,” Bright agreed. “It’s valuable laps in the car ahead of next year’s 12-Hour, so it’s important to do it.

“Unfortunately by not doing the AGT race [Salmon and team-mate Liam Talbot are already scheduled to share the car in the two 40-minute AGT races], I won’t get any laps till qualifying on Sunday ahead of the race, but it won’t be the car I’ll need to worry about, it will be learning the circuit.

“I’ve seen footage of the track, and it looks fantastic - very busy. There’s nothing like throwing yourself in the deep end, but I’m sure by the end of the race I’ll be comfortable in the car and that will be important ahead of the 12-Hour.”

“It was too good an opportunity to pass up,” Salmon admitted.

“We’re committed to the 12-Hour campaign, and have a great driver lineup, so this will only further our progression by having Jason up to speed in advance.”

As for Salmon and Talbot, they too have been doing valuable preparation ahead of the final round of the championship on a simulator in Sydney.

“Liam and I have been going to Race Centre in Darling Harbour to log some laps on the Highlands circuit,” Salmon explained.

“I know it’s not the same as being there, but I’m glad I did it, it gives me a good idea of what to expect. James Winslow has been with me coaching me along the way which has been good, and he’s given me a few tips on how to approach those tricky corners - and there are a number of tricky corners.

“In the end I got down to a 1:31 [Craig Baird’s lap record set in the Tony Quinn McLaren MP4-12C is set at 1:41.90] which I thought was pretty good, but I have to admit I cheated.. I used a Ferrari F1 car.. (laughs).

“The Audi they used in the simulator was an old car, and it didn’t feel quite right, so James suggested the F1 car, because for most of the simulators a lot of work has gone into setting the F1 cars up properly, so they really handle well. At the end of the day I wanted an idea of how the circuit felt and I think that can only help.

“It looks very tight, and there doesn’t appear to be a lot of overtaking opportunities so qualifying is going to be critical.

“There’s five or six of us in the hunt for third in the championship as well, so we’ll be working hard to be quick, but also keep our noses clean. The fast way around Highlands if the simulator is to be believed is to really ride the kerbs, and kerb compliance is one of the strong points in the Audi, so we could well be in the box seat.

“I’ll have my eyes on in Cromwell, I have to beat my team-mate Dean Koutsoumidis and the Bowe/Edwards combination in order to grab the final step on the championship podium, and I’m pretty pumped up. Bring it on!”

MPC will have a busy weekend ahead of them at Highlands, managing the #6 Skwirk.com.au R8 LMS ultra of Salmon/Talbot/Bright along with the #71 Equity-One R8 LMS of Dean Koutsoumidis/Andrew McInnes, and assisting with the Dodge Viper Competition Coupé of Steve McLaughlan and former car owner Greg Crick.


Friday, 8 November
Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli 
Practice #1 - 9:30am (20-minutes)
Practice #2 - 11:35am (30-minutes)
Qualifying - 2:00pm (40-minutes)
Race #1 - 3:45pm (40-minutes)

Saturday, 9 November
Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli 
Warm-up - 9:25am (20-minutes)
Race #2 - 12:20pm (40-minutes)

Sunday, 10 November
Highlands 101 (Qualifying) - 9:25am (40-minutes)
Highlands 101 (Race) - 1:25pm (101-laps)

Melbourne Performance Centre is proudly supported by Skwirk.com.au, 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
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 claimed victory in the Australian GT Championship and the Bathurst 12-Hour.
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

Photo credit: Melbourne Performance Centre