Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Australian GT: Winslow set for Le Mans and Australian GT!‏

Equity-One Motorsport Press Release

Winslow set for Le Mans and Australian GT!
Equity-One Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3
2014 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia

Dual Australian Formula 3 champion James Winslow looks all but set to realise a dream and make his 2014 Le Mans debut this June, the Australian-based British driver in the final stages of a negotiation that will also see him complete the full Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli season and quite possibly select rounds of the emerging Asian Le Mans Series.

Courtesy of his success in Asian Le Mans in 2013, Winslow was in the box seat heading into the final round of the championship at Sepang [Malaysia], but fell two agonising points short of the LMP2 crown with Hong Kong-based KCMG and a guaranteed start in the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans. Sadly broken rear suspension in the dying stages of the race meant that reigning Le Mans champions Oak Racing took the victory.

For 2014 KCMG have confirmed entries in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and Le Mans, and whilst not confirming its complete driver lineup, Winslow’s name has been mentioned as part of the program, although the popular Englishman has confirmed he has more than one option.

“It’s hard work keeping your name in front of the people that make the decisions, but obviously what I’ve done here in Australia and coming so close to winning Asian Le Mans last year in my first season in a prototype hasn’t gone without notice, so I’m getting plenty of return phone calls about Le Mans, which is nice,” he admitted.

“I’d say I’m 99% confirmed to be in a seat, it’s just a matter of which one, but I can’t wait to be honest. I’ve been lucky enough to drive at some amazing events over my career including at F1 and the Indy 500, but Le Mans is a dream I’ve had since the start of my career.”

And Winslow isn’t the only one that will get to realise a long held dream…

“Dean Koutsoumidis is a fantastic supporter of mine and has been for a while now, and he was almost as devastated as I was when I missed out on the guaranteed Le Mans start this year. He’d said from the start that his goal was to be there right alongside me at Le Mans as part of a team - not to drive, but to be a part of the atmosphere. It’s fantastic having someone like Dean support me. For him - like me - motorsport is a passion, so to have him so heavily involved is fantastic because the association is about so much more than just the result.

“I felt too that without the confirmation of a Le Mans drive earlier in the year that the best thing I could do to thank him for all his support was to offer some assistance with his Australian GT and Carrera Cup commitments this year, and before I knew it, I was drafted into the team to join him for the six round Australian GT season.”

 “Two years ago Andrew McInnes and I won the Australian GT Trophy Class in the Equity-One Lamborghini Gallardo,” Koutsoumidis reflected. “We bought the Audi R8 at the end of that season to have an attack on the outright championship last year and we did pretty well - we were holding down third heading into New Zealand’s season final. The option was there to upgrade [the car] for this year, but we thought we’d leave the car as it was in 2011 LMS-spec and go after the Trophy class title again this year, but all of a sudden there’s a group of guys dropping back to try and steal our thunder. 

“That prompted me into action and I knew I needed a ‘Pro’ driver, so given James and I have been working together to support his career over the last six months or so, I thought I’d talk to him and hey presto, we’re ready to go.

“In the interim the Le Mans thing has come back on-line too, and I’ve decided to ‘dabble’ in Carrera Cup and James is going to assist me as a driver coach in that too so that I can enjoy that snap last-minute decision I made.”

Koutsoumidis decided at the eleventh hour to purchase one of the new Type 991 Carrera Cup cars, the Victorian making his debut at the recent Clipsal 500.

“That was an initiation of fire I can tell you,” Koutsoumidis laughed.

“It’s a very different car to drive than the Audi, so I got caught a couple of times getting on the gas too early and spinning. It was frustrating because I had the pace to be with some of the other ‘Elite’ drivers, and actually raced in amongst them, but I’m a little frustrated that I couldn’t compete head-to-head with them across the whole race weekend. In reality it’s very different to AGT and it was my first real effort and I wasn’t far off, so I had a pretty good time, but I’ll be looking to step things up for the Grand Prix next week so look out!”

For Winslow his season is starting to take shape and it may even see a return to the Asian Le Mans Series, for which he is keen to make amends for falling just short last year.

“Having spent a large part of the last eight years in Asia, I have a good contact base over there, so not only have I been working on driver training programs in Asia, but I’ve also been talking to a variety of teams about joining the Asian Le Mans Series again, which is really gaining momentum,” he explained.

“In the end it could be a very busy year. I’m itching to get to Le Mans, and I’m really looking forward to helping Dean claim the GT Trophy title again, so whatever happens, I’ll have plenty on my plate!”

2014 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli
Rnd#1 - March 28-30, Sandown, Victoria (Nationals) - 2x 60-minute
Rnd#2 - May 23-25, Phillip Island, Victoria (Nationals) - 101-laps
Rnd#3 - 4-6 July, Townsville, Queensland (V8 Supercars) - 3x 40-minute
Rnd#4 - August 22-24, Sydney Motorsport Park (V8 Supercars) - 2x 30-min, 1x 60-min
Rnd#5 - September 12-14, Sandown 500, Victoria (V8 Supercars) - 3x 40-minute
Rnd#6 - November 7-9, Highlands Motorsport Park (NZ) - 101-laps
James Winslow
Nationality: British
DOB: 16 April, 1983

2004 - British Formula 3 Champion (National Class)
2006 - Asian Formula 3 Champion
2007 - Formula V6 Asia Champion
2008 - Australian Formula 3 Champion
2009 - A1 Grand Prix (Team Great Britain)
2010 - Firestone Indy Lights (Sam Schmidt Motorsports)
2011 - Indy Lights (Andretti Autosport)
2012 - Australian Formula 3 Champion
2013 - Asian Le Mans Series (KCMG - LMP2)

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