Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lowndes rejoins Audi at Phillip Island - Australian GT

Melbourne Performance Centre Press Release

Craig Lowndes
Since it first appeared in Australia two years ago, the Audi R8 LMS GT3 has taken all before it, winning back-to-back Bathurst 12-Hour events in 2011 and 2012 and the 2011 Australian GT Championship, and still it continues to grab headlines. The latest announcement is set to continue the trend.

Just one week after the Sandown 500 V8 Supercar race - the opening endurance event of the season - one of the most famous names in Australian motorsport will return to the wheel of an Audi R8 LMS GT3 at the iconic Phillip Island circuit looking for the GT victory that has so far eluded him.

Craig Lowndes is no stranger to winning at Phillip Island, and no stranger to the Audi R8 LMS having put the iconic German marque on pole for the 2011 Bathurst 12-Hour, but whilst the three-time V8 Supercar champion has two Bathurst 12-Hour races and a run at the notorious Nurburgring in Germany on his resume, he is yet to stand on the top step of the podium in the R8. Phillip Island could well provide that opportunity.

“I am very pleased to be stepping back aboard an Audi R8LMS again, and particularly at a track like Phillip Island,” Craig Lowndes said.

“I’ve enjoyed my two outings with the factory Audi team at Bathurst in the 12-Hour but have yet to win in the car, so hopefully Phillip Island will give me the chance. The guys at Melbourne Performance Centre have been involved with the factory cars all the way, so I expect we will be very competitive again. I am looking forward to it.”

Craig Lowndes at Bathurst
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to work with Craig again,” Melbourne Performance Centre’s Troy Russell agreed. “The two Pheonix cars that ran at Bathurst this year were still in the country on the promotional circuit for Audi, so we approached Audi Australia about the idea, and together with Rod Salmon’s One World Bar, Pirelli Australia and the Audi Driving Experience, we put the deal together to have Craig back in the car.”

The One World Bar Audi R8 LMS cars from MPC
“I’m very excited,” Rod Salmon added. “This might be the only time I get the chance to have Craig Lowndes as a team-mate, so I jumped at the opportunity to make it happen..”

“Our aim is for this to be an ongoing program,” Troy Russell continued. “Craig obviously has V8 Supercar commitments, and we’re thankful to Triple 8 for releasing him for the Phillip Island weekend, but whilst he’s made no secret of the fact that he’d like to pursue a GT career at some point, he still has his Supercar commitments to consider next year. For us this is just the start, we’d like to have a professional driver in the car alongside our current team at every round in 2013.”

Melbourne Performance Centre are no strangers to the Audi R8 LMS. The Victorian based operation prepared and managed the R8 GT3 that won the 2011 Australian GT Championship in the hands of Mark Eddy, and they were also heavily involved with the Audi ‘factory’ assault on the two Bathurst 12-Hour events.

“We were working with Mark Eddy and his R8 at Bathurst, and that association led to Audi talking to us about becoming part of their customer support program,” Troy Russell explained.

“That allows us full access to, not just parts and cars, but also technical support. The way they operate their program is first rate. Every one of those customer cars that lands here is basically a brand new car.

“As an agent, we carry a full range of spares, including engines and gearboxes which customers can lease as they need them, so we can basically cater for every need.

“We also have complete access to the factory, so if we need anything, no matter where or when, there is always someone to work us through anything we need on the other end of the phone. It’s as good a service as you’ll find anywhere and explains just why Audi has been so successful for so many years.”

Lowndes will campaign the fifth car in the MPC/Audi R8 camp in the GT Championship joining reigning champion Mark Eddy, team-mate Rod Salmon, new Audi recruit Peter Conroy and an as-yet unconfirmed driver who will be making his Audi debut at Phillip Island.

The team will contest Rnd#5 of the Australian GT Championship at Phillip Island with opening practice on September 21, and two one-hour endurance races across the weekend. 


Craig Lowndes and the Audi R8 LMS

2011 Bathurst 12-Hour
[Craig Lowndes/Warren Luff/Mark Eddy Joest Racing #7 Audi Australia]
Qualifying: P1
Race: P2 - 0.7141 behind the race winner (fastest lap: 2:09.0861)

ADAC ACAS H&R-Cup VLN (Nürburgring) Nordschleife, Germany - May 2011
[Craig Lowndes/Warren Luff #17 Audi Race Experience]
Qualifying: P10
Race: DNS

2012 Bathurst 12-Hour
[Craig Lowndes/Warren Luff/Mark Eddy Pheonix Racing #2 Audi Australia]
Qualifying: P5
Race: DNF (156-laps)


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

2012 Australian GT Championship - calendar
Rnd#1, 1-4 March - Clipsal, Adelaide, SA
Rnd#2, 25-27 May - Phillip Island, Victoria
Rnd#3, 22-24 June - Winton, Victoria
Rnd#4, 13-15 July - Eastern Creek, Sydney, NSW
Rnd#5, 21-23 September - Phillip Island, Victoria
Rnd#6, 19-21 October - Gold Coast, Queensland
Rnd#7, 30-2 December - Homebush, Sydney, NSW

2012 Australian GT Championship - series points
(after round four of seven)
1. Peter Hackett (Mercedes-Benz) - 101 points
2. Klark Quinn (Porsche) - 95 
3. Peter Edwards (Ferrari) - 86
4. Greg Crick (Dodge Viper) - 56 
5. Ben Eggleston (Aston Martin) - 54
6. Roger Lago (Lamborghini) - 52
7. James Brock (Mercedes Benz) - 47
8. Tony Quinn (Mosler) - 36
9. Nick O'Halloran (Ferrari) - 22
10. Jim Manolios/Rod Wilson (Corvette) - 22

Melbourne Performance Centre
Since 2004, Victorian motorsport enthusiasts Lee Burley and Troy Russell have operated Melbourne Performance Centre [MPC], a professional motorsport operation dedicated to ‘gentleman’ [and lady] racers. 

Their business model is simple; to provide fellow enthusiasts and competitors a range of services that will enhance their experience with the sport, from the build, preparation and engineering of race cars, to transportation and support at the circuit.

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 holds the mantel of Australian GT and Bathurst 12-Hour Champion.

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