Australian GT: Talbot impressive, Koutsoumidis stunning at QR‏

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Melbourne Performance Centre Audi regulars Rod Salmon and Dean Koutsoumidis were joined by new co-drivers for Queensland Raceway and for both teams, the experience was another step forward despite little prior knowledge of either partner.

Melbourne Performance Centre Press Release

Melbourne Performance Centre Audi R8 LMS ultra
Rnd#5 2013 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli
Queensland Raceway, Ipswich (August 2-4)

Melbourne Performance Centre Audi regulars Rod Salmon and Dean Koutsoumidis were joined by new co-drivers for Queensland Raceway and for both teams, the experience was another step forward despite little prior knowledge of either partner.

For Rod Salmon, from what little he knew of Liam Talbot he was unable to make any kind of real assessment as to how their weekend would pan out, but by the close of practice, it was pretty clear the local driver who has only been competing for 12 short months, had no shortage of natural ability. “Boy he’s quick,” Salmon beamed at the close of Friday’s three sessions, “and no driver time parity penalty either..!”

For Dean Koutsoumidis, he started the weekend without regular co-driver Andrew McInnes, but whilst looking forward to a weekend of driving the Equity-One Audi on his own, by Friday night he revealed that he was going to take on a co-driver for the weekend, Formula 3 points leader Tim Macrow.

“I’ve always been a fan of Timmy, so I offered him the chance to have a run in the car during the media rides on Friday afternoon,” he explained. “Then we thought we’d hatch an idea to wind Andrew up, and reveal that Tim would be in the car for the weekend ahead of a possible full-time role in 2014. That had the desired affect and Andrew was soon on the phone, but as I thought more about it over a glass of wine, I thought why not give him the run whilst Andrew’s tied up with work.”

Qualifying saw both teams campaign both drivers, with Talbot and Macrow setting the pace, the GT rookies setting the sixth (Talbot) and eighth (Macrow) fastest times, split by the 2013 Lamborghini Gallardo of Justin McMillan.

Talbot made a stunning start in the Skwirk.com.au R8 ultra and was through on Greg Murphy and onto the tail of John Bowe on the run into turn three.

Behind him Macrow too was on the move, taking McMillan into turn one, to be on Murphy’s tail. By lap two the top five were breaking away from Macrow in sixth, but as Talbot dove into turn four behind Bowe, he spun the Salmon Audi, dropping to rear of field.

“My mistake,” he admitted afterwards. “I went in a bit deep and got caught on the marbles and applied a bit much brake pressure and around it went.”

Despite the setback he was quickly up to speed again, dropping into the 1:10s and reeling in the tail of the field. His pace was incredible and he was quickly through the field and back to seventh behind MPC stable-mate Macrow ahead of Tim’s stop; right on the halfway point.

“As a professional driver, Tim can do no more than 50% of the race laps,” MPC’s Troy Russell explained. Talbot meanwhile continued his impressive pace, dropping into the 1:09s, with a time just six one thousandths slower than former Bathurst champion Murphy..

Stopping from sixth place, the #6 Skwirk car rejoined in seventh place with car-owner Rod Salmon behind the wheel.

Behind Salmon, Koutsoumidis was on a mission. Between coaching from Macrow and the experience he’d gained from McInnes over the course of the last couple of seasons, the reigning Trophy Class champion was committed, and he was hauling Salmon in, lap after lap.

“I could see him ahead of me, and I was making up big ground under brakes, so I just focused on getting my line right, and braking late to see whether I could catch him before the flag.”

Two laps from home he was right on Salmon’s tail. “Once I was on his tail I applied the McInnes technique,” he laughed. “I always watch him [McInnes] work his way onto the back of another car and then start to weave a little to loom large in their mirrors and force them into a mistake, so that’s what I did, and Rod left the door open. That was all I needed. It’s nice to be the hunter for a change instead of the prey..!”

Salmon too was happy with his weekend, and impressed by the pace of Talbot. “I just need to get my pace up earlier in the stint and I’ll be right,” he admitted with a shrug, “but Liam was impressive, even despite the spin. I can’t wait for race two!”

Race two was scheduled for a 6:00pm start, with the two car owners lining up in the eerie darkness ahead of their second 40-minute race.

Sporting an impressive array of lights that Audi use in their international endurance programs, Salmon had arguably the brightest ride of all, and he used it to good effect, locking onto the tail of the Koutsoumidis car early.

By lap two they were running fifth and sixth after McMillan spun the Lamborghini at turn four, but five laps later the two Audis were in the wars at the very same place on the circuit.

With Salmon large in Koutsoumidis mirrors, the Equity-One driver went into the turn off line and onto the ‘marbles’ on the outer edge of the corner, spinning under brakes. Salmon took the advantage and nipped up the inside, but the Koutsoumidis car lurched back forwards as he went through, the two cars making heavy contact, with the front of the #71 Audi hitting the right rear wheel of Salmon’s car.

Both cars continued on into the darkness, although Koustoumidis was now without his high beam headlights, and suffering from a deflating from left front tyre.

Forced to hold on until the 50% mark, Koustoumidis retained sixth position, but fell back as Matt Kingsley passed him ahead of the compulsory pit stop [CPS].

Salmon too stopped early for his change, a decision which would weigh heavily in their favour once the Safety Car was deployed for Steve McLaughlan’s stricken Viper, Talbot finding himself fourth on the restart, right on the tail of Murphy and Tony Quinn.

As the pair in front of him fought over the second step of the podium, Talbot too maintained an impressive pace to be classified fourth at the line, with the Koutsoumidis car unable to match their early pace after the stop with poor visibility costing Macrow time. That, and the fact that during the Safety Car period the Equity-One team dropped a lap to the leaders.

“We’ll fix the car, no drama,” Koutsoumidis admitted afterwards. “It’s mostly cosmetic, but it was a bit hard to run around in the dark without high beam..”

Whilst they were forced to start from the sixth row, the disadvantage the Equity-One team had from their driver parity adjustments thanks to Macrow’s grading as a ‘Master’ driver (12 seconds extra over and above the Skwirk team) meant that in all likelihood, the two cars would come out after their CPS on track together.. it was game on, take 3!

Talbot got another strong start to lock in onto the tail of the fight for the lead between Murphy, Klark Quinn and Tony Quinn.

Macrow was brilliant through the opening lap, moving from 12th to sixth, before overtaking the McMillan Lamborghini two laps later.

With Tony Quinn moving into the lead, Talbot was right in the box seat in the Skwirk Audi, the rookie receiving no time penalty during his CPS, whilst the drivers immediately in front of him were stopping an extra 12 to 24 seconds longer.. now it was down to Salmon.

Macrow was the first of the two cars in, dropping to seventh in the process. Five laps later Talbot followed Tony Quinn down pit lane, with the Aston rejoining in front of Salmon, the Audi driver rejoining in second, immediately ahead of Klark Quinn who before the end of the lap had dropped the Audi back to third.

Koutsoumidis was right behind Quinn, and he closed as Salmon allowed the Porsche driver and the recovering Greg Murphy through, the two Audis again battling over position, this time for fourth place.

Koutsoumidis applied pressure over the closing laps to take the position away under brakes into turn six, four laps from home.

Salmon wasn’t out of the wars yet though, with the charging Justin McMillan closing in over the final laps to be on the Audi’s tail on the run into turn four last time around.

McMillan braked hard as he shot down the inside, but contact ensued as Salmon moved across to cover. Both spun as a result, with Salmon recovering to cross the line with the left front of his Audi looking very second hand.

Further forward though the Equity-One team were beaming after what was their most successful run of the season, and arguably Dean Koutsoumidis’ best drive in a GT car.

“Honestly, I think the pressure of having Tim in the car pushed me to want to do a better job for him, so I was forced to go outside my comfort zone and allow the team to try things with the car to improve the speed with Tim behind the wheel,” he explained.

Whilst his smile was wide, the news later in the day that the result had moved him to third in the outright championship points was almost more than he could handle.. “Are you kidding me..!?”

Whilst disappointed with the final lap contact, Salmon too was happy with the weekend’s result, admitting to having enjoyed his on track battles with team-mate Koutsoumidis, but after another master stroke employing the services of young gun Liam Talbot, he also admitted to enjoying his racing more than he has done in a while.

For Talbot though, he showed that he could run with the best of them, having all but matched pace with the leaders through the opening stanza of the race. “That was one of the most fantastic experiences I’ve ever had in my life,” he beamed. “I can’t thank Rod enough for giving me that opportunity.”

For the Melbourne Performance Centre team their attention turns to New Zealand for the championship finale at the new Highlands Motorsport Park on November 8-10. Unlike many of the AGT teams, MPC has a strong relationship with NZ, having campaigned a team of V8 Supertourers in recent seasons, and they will be hoping to employ some of their local knowledge to help their teams finish the 2013 season off strongly.

2013 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli
Qualifying 
[3 August] Queensland Raceway, Ipswich

01. 23. Roger Lago - Lamborghini Gallardo LP560 GT3 [CHAMP] - 1:08.4726
02. 7. Tony Quinn - Aston Martin Vantage GT3 [CHAMP] - 1:08.6870
03. 1. Klark Quinn - Porsche GT3-R [CHAMP] - 1:08.8606
04. 88. John Bowe - Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 [CHAMP] - 1:09.1791
05. 29. Greg Murphy - Chevrolet Corvette Z06.R GT3 [CHAMP] - 1:09.8530
06. 6. Liam Talbot - Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra [CHAMP] - 1:09.9612
07. 48. Justin McMillan - Gallardo LP600+ GT3 [CHAMP] - 1:10.3284
08. 71. Tim Macrow - Audi R8 LMS GT3 [CHAMP] - 1:10.6543

Race#1 - 40-minutes [3 August] Queensland Raceway, Ipswich

01. 7. Tony Quinn - Aston Martin Vantage GT3 [CHAMP] - 31-laps
02. 1. Klark Quinn - Porsche GT3-R [CHAMP]
03. 88. John Bowe - Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 [CHAMP]
04. 29. Greg Murphy - Chevrolet Corvette Z06.R GT3 [CHAMP]
05. 23. Roger Lago - Lamborghini Gallardo LP560 GT3 [CHAMP]
06. 48. Justin McMillan - Gallardo LP600+ GT3 [CHAMP]
07. 71. Dean Koutsoumidis/Tim Macrow - Audi R8 LMS GT3 [CHAMP]
08. 6. Rod Salmon/Liam Talbot - Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra [CHAMP]

Race#2 - 40-minutes [3 August] Queensland Raceway, Ipswich

01. 1. Klark Quinn - Porsche GT3-R [CHAMP] - 28-laps
02. 29. Greg Murphy - Chevrolet Corvette Z06.R GT3 [CHAMP]
03. 7. Tony Quinn - Aston Martin Vantage GT3 [CHAMP] 
04. 6. Rod Salmon/Liam Talbot - Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra [CHAMP]
05. 25. Brendan Cook/Matt Kingsley - Porsche GT3 Cup [CHALLENGE] 
12. 71. Dean Koutsoumidis/Tim Macrow - Audi R8 LMS GT3 [CHAMP] - 26-laps

Race#3 - 40-minutes [4 August] Queensland Raceway, Ipswich

01. 1. Klark Quinn - Porsche GT3-R [CHAMP] - 33-laps
02. 29. Greg Murphy - Chevrolet Corvette Z06.R GT3 [CHAMP]
03. 7. Tony Quinn - Aston Martin Vantage GT3 [CHAMP] 
04. 71. Dean Koutsoumidis/Tim Macrow - Audi R8 LMS GT3 [CHAMP]
05. 6. Rod Salmon/Liam Talbot - Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra [CHAMP]
06. 48. Justin McMillan - Gallardo FLII GT3 [CHAMP]

Keep track of round three of the Australian GT  Championship presented by Pirelli via the AGT website - www.**australiangt**.com.au and via Facebook; AustralianGT

The fifth round of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli will be televised on SBS Speedweek on Sunday, September 1 from 2:00pm AEST (check local guides for confirmation).

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2013 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli
GT Championship points 
(after five rounds of six)
1. Klark Quinn (540 points), 2. Tony Quinn (423), 3. Dean Koutsoumidis (276), 4. John Bowe (272), 5. Rod Salmon (262), 6. Greg Murphy (245), 6. Roger Lago (234), 7. Jack Le Brocq (220), 8. Justin McMillan (195), 9. Peter Edwards (190), 10. Andrew McInnes (154), 11. Liam Talbot (134), 12. Craig Baird (133), 13. Tim Macrow (122), 14. Jim Manolios (70), 15. Christian Klien (70), 16. Nathan Antunes (63), 17. Andrew Taplin (59), 18. Van Gisbergen/Kingsley (54), 19. Simonsen/Salo (50), 20. Steven Richards (46), 22. James Winslow (42), 23. Ivan Capelli (37), 24. Middleton/O’Young (30), 25. Ross Lilley (28), 26. Slade/Holdsworth/Hackett (26), 27. Mok Weng Sun/Griffin (25), 28. Lowndes/Luff (21), 29. Roloff/Schneider/Jaeger (19), 30. Russell/Kox (16)

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Melbourne Performance Centre is proudly supported by Skwirk.com.au, One World Bar, 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.

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
info@melbourneperformance.com
www.melbourneperformance.com www.facebook.com/MelbournePerformance
Photo credit: Melbourne Performance Centre 

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Tags audi, aussie, australia, gt, r8

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