Saturday, November 8, 2014

Australian GT: Rod Salmon wins GT Trophy championship at New Zealand finale

By Johan Laubscher

The final round of the 2014 Australian GT Championship was held at Highlands Motorsport Park in New Zealand on Saturday.

The big Audi news of the weekend was the title fight for the GT Trophy class, where Rod Salmon was leading the points with his MPC teammates, Dean Koutsoumidis and James Winslow, close behind him in the standings.

Practice saw a heavy impact for the #71 R8 LMS of Koutsoumidis and Winslow. They may have missed qualifying, but the MPC team worked brilliantly in order to repair the car for the first race.

In the overall standings of the first race on Saturday it was the debuting #2 Audi R8 LMS ultra of Peter Fitzgerald and Michael Almond that was the first Audi across the line in seventh. Ockert Fourie and John Magro finished ninth overall in the #72 R8 LMS and took victory within the GT Trophy class. They were followed home by the #71 R8 LMS of class title contenders Dean Koutsoumidis and James Winslow in tenth overall, who started from the back of the field and raced to second position in class, collecting valuable points ensuring that the title battle would come down to the final race. Rod Salmon unfortunately received a drive-through penalty for contact and eventually finished twenty-first overall. Steven McLaughlan finished thirteenth overall in the #75 Audi R8 LMS ultra.

The final race of the season was held on Saturday afternoon. The GT Trophy title was decided in favour of Rod Salmon, who finished fourth in class and sixteenth overall with the #6 Audi R8 LMS that he shared with Nathan Antunes. The #71 R8 LMS of Dean Koutsoumidis and James Winlsow finished second in class, eleventh overall and took the runner-up spot in the GT Trophy class championship standings.

It was again the #2 R8 LMS ultra of Peter Fitzgerald and Michael Almond that was registered as the highest placed Audi at the finish, with a tenth place overall. Steven McLaughlan again finished thirteenth, followed by Ockert Fourie and John Magro in seventeenth.

Many of the Australian GT competitors, including all six Audi R8 LMS and ultra cars from MPC, will be taking part in the special Highlands 101 endurance race tomorrow.

Photo credit:
Highlands Motorsport Park [Euan Cameron & John Morris]
Australian GT [John Morris - mpix]
Melbourne Performance Centre