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May 27, 2014 - 06:15 AM
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Dramatic End To The Phillip Island Weekend For Equity-One Motorsport
Posted by: newsla on May 27, 2014 - 06:14 AM
Sports Cars
Dramatic End To The Phillip Island Weekend For Equity-One Motorsport


Heading into the Phillip Island ‘101’ round of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli with the Trophy Class points lead, Equity-One Motorsport team-mates Dean Koutsoumidis and James Winslow knew the target was on their backs, but dual Australian Formula 3 champion Winslow admitted that they weren’t too concerned.

 

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“We came down here testing last week, and Dean was running easily in the 1:30s, which is the first time he’s done that, and he did it comfortably,” the Englishman - who it has just been revealed, will drive at the biggest sportscar race in the world next month, the 24 Hours of Le Mans - revealed.

“It’s a combination of being comfortable in the car, but also having someone with experience like James who can assist me as a coach. Most people who compete at a high level have coaches, and motorsport is no different, and I’m finding it incredibly valuable..” Koutsoumidis beamed on reviewing the practice times from Friday’s official practice sessions.

Fifth on aggregated times in the damp and testing conditions, the Equity-One Motorsport Audi R8 LMS was looking good during qualifying, Winslow posting the seventh fastest time, but while the Melbourne Performance Centre [MPC] team were high-fiving, Winslow looked less than impressed..

“I’m a racer, and I could see pole, no problem at all, but this is a team sport and they felt that on strategy, it was wiser for us to start back from the front row to eliminate some of the extra time penalty we would incur during the compulsory pit stop [CPS] versus the guys on the grid in front if us. They were right of course, but I wanted pole.. [laughs].”

Starting from the fourth row of the grid, Koutsoumidis charged off the line, battling hard with pole-sitter Steve McLaughlan and the sister MPC Audi of Rod Salmon - the three teams who made up the Sandown Trophy Class podium.

“I got a great start and was having a fantastic battle with Steve and Rod, but also staying mindful that we would leap-frog them both during the CPS,” Koutsoumidis explained.

“My times were great, we weren’t losing too much time to the leaders and ultimately I’d managed to break clear of both Steve and Rod and started battling with Roger Lago in the Lamborghini.. I was having an absolute ball, it’s probably the most comfortable I’ve ever been in the Audi, and funnily enough, consistently as fast or faster than I’d ever been around Phillip Island!”

Tragically though, fate - or rather - an errant Roger Lago intervened, and Koutsoumidis was eliminated from the race after just 19 laps.

The Equity-One Motorsport Audi had only just been taken by Lago the lap prior, so Koutsoumidis was still within striking distance to take position eight back from the former series regular after he became caught up in slower traffic.

Coming through Southern Loop and into Honda corner (turn four), Lago seemed reluctant to pass Keith Kassulke in the Ascari. This allowed the door to open on the inside of Honda corner, but Koutsoumidis eased out of the power to give the two cars room to go side-by-side after Lago began to look for a way past.

On the exit the two cars in front ran wide, so Koutsoumidis shot the Audi down the inside, but as he effected the pass, the Lamborghini clipped the Ascari as it made its way down the outside, turning it across the circuit and into the left rear wheel of the Equity-One Audi.

From there Koutsoumidis was a passenger as the Audi spun down the wet grass into the infield, righting itself just as it approached an earth embankment.

The onboard footage shows a quite dramatic impact with the wall - the end result.. game over..

“I was just minding my own business, but I could see Roger and Keith holding each other up on the exit of Honda, and there was plenty of room down the inside, so I went for it,” Koutsoumidis explained.

“I was most of the way past, then bang, around I went. I thought both Keith and Roger were fighting too hard for position, but it looks like Keith was just holding his ground and Roger might have gotten onto the wet ripple strip which turned him across in front of the Ascari, and straight into me..

“What can you say.. right place at the wrong time..”

“Yes, it’s disappointing,” Winslow admitted from pit lane, “but on a positive note, Dean’s pace was exceptional. He was doing everything we needed him too and we were well positioned to be on the outright podium, and certainly, in with a good shot of winning the Trophy Class for the second round in a row.”

Damage to the front of the mid-engined Audi was not insignificant, however the MPC team were soon planning repairs to be ready for the third round of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli on the V8 Supercar program at the Townsville street circuit on July 4-6.


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