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Bathurst 12 Hour: Bathurst can be so cruel.

Bathurst can be so cruel…
Skwirk.com.au/MPC Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra
2014 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour
Mount Panorama, Bathurst (7-9 February)

It all started so well, the Melbourne Performance Centre [MPC] prepared Skwirk.com.au Audi looked fantastic as it rolled off the truck at Mount Panorama, and after working on a variety of setup ‘tweaks’ during Friday’s three practice sessions, car-owner Rod Salmon and 12-Hour team-mates Warren Luff, Jason Bright and Liam Talbot were more than ready to take on qualifying and begin their assault on the podium.

Sadly the plan lasted just two laps before Jason Bright suffered a spin at one of the most unforgiving parts of the circuit, impacting the wall hard at Reid Park, the car stopping mid-track at right angles to the flow of traffic. The session was red-flagged and Bright was ultimately transferred to hospital as a precaution. Despite MPC’s best efforts, the car was too badly damaged to repair in time for Sunday’s 6:15am race start so it was withdrawn late in the day.

“An impact like that requires significant repairs to the chassis, and we just don’t have the facilities or the time to make repairs that we’d regard as safe enough to compete properly,” MPC’s Troy Russell confirmed.

The team were obviously shattered by the result, especially after working so hard to find what they felt was the ideal setup to be in the mix with the leaders come 5:00pm Sunday afternoon.

“Obviously it’s very disappointing, but the most important thing is that Brighty is okay,” Warren Luff confirmed afterwards. “Cars can be repaired, but people are harder to replace. It’s obviously very unfortunate, and Jason will be incredibly disappointed, it’s disappointing for the team, but this is what motorsport can be like sometimes.
“I’ve seen the on-board footage - there has been a really nasty bump on that corner going into Reid Park, which has been unsettling the car the whole time and we think that has started the situation. I haven’t had a chance to have a proper debrief with Jason yet, I had a quick chat with him in the medical centre - he’s alert and talking, but still a little bit groggy after being knocked out.
“It’s my fourth year here at Audi, but I’ve only had one result - that’s what makes win and podiums so special because you know what it takes to get there. I think we were in a really good position for the race tomorrow, the boys have been working really hard - we were making sure the car was going to be fast right through the race, we weren’t interested in being heroes in qualifying because it really doesn’t matter where you start, it’s about being there at the end. 
“Obviously the entire track is far smoother now thanks to the resurfacing, some parts of the track don’t have any bumps now, but then a lot of people have been saying that there are new bumps appearing in different places, especially where Jason had his issue, a lot of people have been complaining that there is a bump right there when the car is fully loaded. It’s a 170 kmh corner and you now have this bump there that really upsets the rear of the car.”

For car-owner Rod Salmon - a two-time Bathurst 12-Hour winner - the result only added to the pain of the team’s 2013 DNF which occurred mid-race as a result of slight contact with the wall coming down the mountain.

“Bathurst is such a challenge - I think that’s why you keep coming back,” he shrugged afterwards. “It looks like he might’ve pulled fourth gear a little too early, based on the data, and that’s the end result, a car that’s pretty much stuffed, we can’t fix it.

“I gave Luffy and Brighty a pep talk last night and I said ‘We’re back in 15th, what are we doing back there?’ They said we were fine and that the track was fine, just to give them a cold track and we will be in the 2:06’s. When Jason went out he was already one and a half seconds up [on his best lap time] and he was only a third of the way around the circuit - he was on for a 2:07 and we would have been up the top. He was 18 kmh faster around that bend than his fastest yesterday, and he was 6 kmh faster than any other Audi had been through that corner - cars have limits and unfortunately he found it.”

For Liam Talbot, his first time at Bathurst with an outright car had proven a great experience, and he was looking forward to carrying on the success that he and Salmon had achieved at the 2013 season ending Highlands Motorsport Park event in New Zealand.

“It’s interesting, people talk about emotion up here and I’ve got no history of that,” he admitted. “But as soon as it [the accident] happened, all this emotion came from somewhere, it was quite overwhelming. The first thing was to ensure Brighty was okay, that was my first concern. It’s pretty scary because that could happen to anyone, even someone as experienced as Jason. After that it was disappointment that I wouldn’t get the chance to improve across the race and get some more valuable miles, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. We’ll rebuild and look to start the Australian GT season on a high.”

For the crack Melbourne Performance Centre outfit the clock is now ticking to have the car repaired ahead of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli season opener at Sandown Park in Melbourne at the end of March [28-30].

2014 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour

Race [12-Hours] (Mount Panorama, Bathurst - 8 February)
01. 88. Edwards/Bowe/Lowndes/Salo (Ferrari 458 Italia - A) - 296-laps
02. 84. Primat/Jaeger/Buhk (Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 - A) - 296-laps
03. 63. Davison/Le Brocq/Crick (Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 - A) - 296-laps
04. 37. Quinn/Quinn/Kirkaldy/Van Gisbergen (McLaren MP4-12C/Pirelli - A) - 296-laps
05. 3.  Frey/Rast/Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS ultra - A) - 296-laps
06. 25. Patterson/Lux/Winkelhock (Audi R8 LMS ultra - A) - 294-laps
07. 1.  Schneider/Engel/Bastian (Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 - A) - 291-laps
08. 4.  Grove/Bamber/Barker (Porsche 997 GT3 Cup - B) - 286-laps
09. 12. Calvert-Jones/Davison/Long (Porsche 997 GT3 Cup - B) - 284-laps
10. 9.  Cini/Eddy/Mies (MPC Audi R8 LMS ultra/Pirelli - A) - 278-laps
DNS. 5. Salmon/Luff/Bright/Talbot (MPC/Audi R8 LMS ultra/Pirelli)

Qualifying (Mount Panorama, Bathurst - 8 February)
01. 1.  Schneider/Engel/Bastian (Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3) - 2:03.8586
02. 88. Edwards/Bowe/Lowndes/Salo (Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) - 2:03.9421
03. 37. Quinn/Quinn/Kirkaldy/Van Gisbergen (McLaren MP4-12C/Pirelli) - 2:04.0006
04. 63. Davison/Le Brocq/Crick (Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3) - 2:04.2563
05. 32. Kelly/Chiyo/Buncombe/Reip (Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3) - 2:04.8228
06. 23. Lago/Russell/Kox (Lamborghini Gallardo FLII GT3) - 2:05.0320
07. 9.  Cini/Eddy/Mies (MPC Audi R8 LMS ultra/Pirelli) - 2:05.5919
08. 3.  Frey/Rast/Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS ultra) - 2:05.5946
09. 25. Patterson/Lux/Winkelhock (Audi R8 LMS ultra) - 2:05.7175
10. 48. McMillan/Richards/Wood/Lilley (Gallardo FLII GT3/Pirelli) - 2:06.3498
31. 5. Salmon/Luff/Bright/Talbot (MPC/Audi R8 LMS ultra/Pirelli) - 2:20.0235


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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 Audi Sports Customer racing transporter, BluFi Wireless Australia and Questek Australia.

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