Hopes to claim the GT Trophy title.
The Equity-One Motorsport pairing of Dean Koutsoumidis and James Winslow heads to Highlands Motorsport Park at Cromwell on the South Island of New Zealand in just under a week in an effort to claim the team’s second Australian GT Trophy Class title, but the popular duo know they’ll have their work cut out for them.
Currently the Equity-One team holds P2 in the standings, just 32-points behind Melbourne Performance Centre stable-mate Rod Salmon, however they have been the form team over recent rounds and are looking to maintain that momentum in NZ.
Season 2014 has turned up a ‘mixed bag’ of results for the Audi R8 LMS team, but despite that they have been the most successful Trophy Class team of the year with five wins to Salmon’s four.
“The season started off brilliantly with the round win first time out at Sandown back in March,” Koutsoumidis reflected. “We were looking pretty good at round two at Phillip Island too, before an errant Lamborghini spun across the track taking me with them. That forced me hard into the earth wall at Siberia and ended our run. It also did some damage to the dynamics of the car too which we didn’t discover until Sydney - two rounds later.
“The MPC team sorted the car pretty quickly from there and we were back to our best at Sydney and at Sandown second time around.”
Back to their best meant that over the last five races, Koutsoumidis and Winslow have been victorious in four of them, reducing the points deficit to Salmon from 62 points to just 32.The #71 Equity-One Audi R8 isn’t the only thing that has performed strongly over recent rounds either, Koutsoumidis too emerging as one of the stars of the Trophy Class this season, the Victorian becoming the standout ‘amateur’ driver in the field.
“Dean has improved every race this year, but at Sandown last time around, it all came together,” Winslow explained. “He took another big step forward there, having learnt something he will keep with him the rest of his life as a driver. It was one of those things that just clicks with you at some point, and Sandown was that point for him.”
Whilst a 32-point deficit is by no means a guarantee of championship victory with 110 points still up for grabs in the final two 40-minute races, Koutsoumidis admits that it will be a big ask.
“Had it not been for the accident that took us out at Phillip Island we would most likely have been the championship points leaders heading to New Zealand, but we’re not and that’s just the way it goes. It’s certainly not over, but it will be a big ask, especially at a circuit where Rod [Salmon] was a race winner in 2013.
“It hasn’t been an easy year, but it has been a rewarding year, and to still be in with a shot at the title with one round remaining is great reward for the efforts of the entire team.
“I’ve also really enjoyed driving this year. James is right, something did click at Sandown, and as a result, I’ve really enjoyed my driving and the battles we’ve had with Rod and Nathan [Antunes - Salmon’s co-driver]. We can win this thing at Highlands. Yes, it will be a difficult mountain to climb, but we want to focus on winning the two races, and whatever happens to Rod is up to him, we won’t be focused on that!”