Sunday, November 9, 2014

Highlands 101: Podium for Rod Salmon and Nathan Antunes MPC Audi R8 LMS ultra in New Zealand

By Johan Laubscher

The Highlands 101 endurance race was held alongside the Australian GT Championship finale at Highlands Motorsport Park in New Zealand this weekend.

The 101-lap endurance race was held on Sunday, following two very exciting Australian GT races on Saturday.

Melbourne Performance Centre was out in full force this weekend. They fielded a total of six Audi R8 LMS and ultra cars, which all took part in the Highlands 101 endurance race.

Qualifying for the race saw the #2 Audi R8 LMS ultra of Peter Fitzgerald and Michael Almond in eighth place overall, the highest Audi on the grid. It was also the #2 Audi crew that scored the highest placed overall finishes for an Audi during the two Australian GT races on Saturday.

Ockert Fourie and John Magro in the #72 Audi R8 LMS, the duo that won their class in race one of the Australian GT on Saturday, qualified twelve overall taking third in the GT Trophy class. They were followed by the #71 Audi R8 LMS in fourteenth, the #75 and #5 Audi R8 LMS ultra cars in positions twenty and twenty-one and the #6 R8 LMS in twenty-fifth.

The 101-lap race saw very strong performances from the three Audi R8 LMS ultra entries, with all three finishing within the overall top six.

It was a podium result for the #5 Audi R8 LMS ultra of Rod Salmon and Nathan Antunes, who piloted their entry to second place, less than thirteen seconds behind the race winning Aston Martin of Tony Quinn and Garth Tander. This rounded out an excellent weekend for Salmon who clinched the Australian GT Trophy class title yesterday. The duo had been running third, but the race leading Mercedes-Benz of Richard Muscat ran out of fuel on the final lap and thus promoted the #5 Audi to second.

Rounding out the top four was Peter Fitzgerald and Michael Almond in the #2 Audi R8 LMS ultra. It was a very strong debut weekend for the #2 Audi squad. The #75 R8 LMS ultra finished sixth with Steve McLaughlan and Warren Luff.

The first of the GT Trophy class Audi R8 LMS entries was the #72 of Ockert Fourie and John Magro. They finished twelve overall and third in class. The #6 R8 LMS of Mark Griffith and Dale Patterson finished seventeenth.

Dean Koutsoumidis and James Winslow had lead the GT Trophy class for twenty-six laps, but their race ended with steering issues and a fire onboard their #71 Audi R8 LMS.

It was a very exciting weekend of racing in New Zealand, highlighted by the Australian GT Trophy title won by Rod Salmon on Saturday.

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