Friday, September 21, 2012

Lowndes and Audi in the hunt at Phillip Island

Melbourne Performance Centre Press Release 

Lowndes and Audi in the hunt at Phillip Island

Rnd#5 Australian GT Championship - Review: Friday, September 22, 2012

At the close of practice for the fifth round of the Australian GT Championship, Audi R8 LMS recruit Craig Lowndes was all smiles.. “That was the best fun,” he grinned in trademark fashion. “These things are just so easy to drive.”

Rejoining Melbourne Performance Centre – the team that supported his last two Bathurst 12-Hour attempts in an R8 – Lowndes was quick straight out of the box and immediately running with the championship leaders.

“I’m loving being able to come onto the front straight absolutely flat,” he admitted after the first of three practice sessions. “I can’t do that in a Supercar.”

In the end Lowndes best time for the day set on new Pirelli slicks in the second 20-minute session, was just six tenths off pace-setter Allan Simonsen in the Ferrari 458 Italia (1:30.6286). Next quickest was championship points leader Peter Hackett in the Mercedes SLS AMG (1:31.1059), followed by his new team-mate Maro Engel (1:31.2000) with Lowndes fourth (1:31.2208).

“Today was about re-acclimatising myself with the car, and working on a race setup. We’ll go after a time tomorrow for qualifying, but I can feel a 1:30 in it, no problem.”

Fellow One World Bar Audi pilot Rod Salmon too had a successful run, and he was particularly buoyant after the opening practice session when it was clear from overlaid data that he had been quicker than Lowndes on a couple of corners. “Wow, I’m pretty happy with!” that he beamed afterwards.

Overall Salmon’s best lap came in the second session, but he too admitted that the team’s focus for the day was on longer runs and a solid race setup.

Whilst the two gorgeous black and blue One World Bar R8’s were comfortably circulating the fast flowing Phillip Island circuit, the newest member of the R8 team wasn’t having quite as much fun, new recruit John Briggs admitting that whilst he was comfortable, he just wasn’t quick.

“I can’t fault anything that happened today, but I just don’t have any pace,” he admitted with a shrug after the final practice session. “Perhaps it’s me, and my driving style, which after 30 years of competing isn’t the easiest thing to change, but we’ll press on. The car is fantastic though, I just need to unlock some speed.”

Rnd#5 Australian GT Championship
Practice – Friday, September 21, 2012
1. Allan Simonsen (Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) - 1:30.6286 (P2)
2. Peter Hackett (Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG) - 1:31.1059 (P3)
3. Maro Engel (Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG) - 1:31.2000 (P3)
4. Craig Lowndes (Audi R8 LMS GT3/Pirelli) - 1:31.2208 (P2)
5. Klark Quinn (Porsche Type 997 RSR) - 1:31.9732 (P2)
6. John Bowe (Ferrari 458 Italia GT3/Pirelli) - 1:32.0257 (P1)
7. Rod Salmon (Audi R8 LMS GT3/Pirelli) - 1:34.3295 (P2)
8. Tony Defelice (Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia) - 1:32.9241 (P3)
9. Martin Wagg (Aston Martin DBRS9) - 1:34.1864 (P3)
10. Tony Quinn (Mosler MT900 GT3) - 1:34.8858 (P1)
11. Koutsoumidis/McInnes (Lamborghini LP520) - 1:35.2072
12. John Briggs (Audi R8 LMS GT3) - 1:35.2088

Rod Salmon - #6 Audi R8 LMS GT3/Pirelli
“Happy with today. The car felt fantastic, and I learnt a lot having Craig’s data available to overlay. He’s also been very helpful in getting me to improve with each run and I’m pretty confident we’ll be well in the mix tomorrow. Again, it was only practice today, so we’ll try for a time tomorrow, but we’ll be there..!”

Craig Lowndes - #888 Audi R8 LMS GT3/Pirelli
“Practice is always fun, with people trying different things.. we expressly decided to concentrate on a race setup, and we’ve got that well sorted. The two hour long races will be about tyre preservation, plain and simple, and whatever the weather throws at us. Traditionally the Audi has proven to look after its tyres very well, so I’m pretty confident heading into tomorrows qualifier and opening race.”

John Briggs - #70 Audi R8 LMS GT3
“Not the best of days for us, but we’re new to this car and this will be my first race in it. Tomorrow’s another day, but rest assured, I’ll be giving it everything I’ve got, and it seems to have good consistent race pace, so it’s certainly not over yet.”

Rnd#5 2012 Australian GT Championship - Phillip Island
Event Schedule (AEST):
Saturday September 15, 2012
Qualifying; 12:05 - 12:30 (30 mins)
Race One; 15:55 (1-Hour)

Sunday September 16, 2012

Warm-up; 12:15 (10 mins)
Race Two; 14:40 (1-Hour)

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 includes a Mainline AWD1500 4WD dynometer] that will enhance their experience with the sport, from the build, preparation and engineering of race cars, to transportation and support at the circuit.

Audi Driving 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