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May 28, 2014 - 03:02 PM
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Australian Nathan Antunes Joins GT Asia Series Field In Autopolis
Posted by: newsla on May 28, 2014 - 02:57 PM
Sports Cars
Australian Nathan Antunes Joins GT Asia Series Field In Autopolis

Just a week after claiming the second-placed trophy in the Australian GT Championship at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit, Sydney’s Nathan Antunes will join the GT Asia Series field at the Autopolis Circuit in Japan alongside former series champion Dilantha Malagamuwa in the Dilango Racing Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 GT3.


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A former Formula BMW and German F3 race winner, Antunes has spent the bulk of the last eight years as a driver coach at Sydney Motorsport Park, where he made his GT3 debut in 2013 alongside dual Bathurst 12-Hour champion Rod Salmon in an Audi R8 LMS ultra.

A relative unknown to the Australian motorsport community, Antunes very quickly ranged onto their radars after putting the Audi in P2 during qualifying, just seven one hundredths of a second off the all-conquering Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG.

During the two races Antunes was one of few drivers in the field to get close to the Mercedes, although they were unable to improve on a third placed result in the opening race and just missed a podium result for the round, but the young Sydney-based driver had done enough, and the GT world had started to take notice.

“I had a fantastic time, and I couldn’t thank Rod [Salmon] enough for giving me the opportunity,” Antunes said at the time.

Sadly despite showing just how capable he was behind the wheel of a GT car, the affable Australian was also tagged as a one-track specialist, something he was keen to dispel at the Phillip Island circuit during the second round of the Australian GT Championship last week.

It didn’t take long either, the former junior karting star put Salmon’s Trophy Class Audi R8 LMS to the top of the timesheets in just the opening session on the Grand Prix circuit in damp, testing conditions.

Adding further proof to his stock as a professional GT driver, he improved his time again to be fourth in qualifying, the team holding him back to ensure that their starting position didn’t give them too great a time penalty during their compulsory pit stop.

In the end a poorly placed Safety Car impacted their track position, dropping them effectively one lap down after picking up the field immediately ahead of them and allowing the race leaders to join the tail of the field ahead of the restart.

Despite the setback Antunes charged through the field to claim seventh place and second in Trophy Class.

“It was disappointing that the Safety Car dropped us a lap down because Rod [Salmon] was leading the Trophy Class at the time,” Antunes explained post-race. “That said, we finished with a straight car, we gained valuable championship points, and Rod now leads the series points, so all up I’d say that in itself was a win!”

During Antunes’ Phillip Island campaign, he was also able to finalise a deal with Dilango Racing to jump into the team’s Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 GT3 alongside the former series champion for the Autopolis round of the GT Asia Series.

“I can’t wait,” he smiled after accepting the second placed trophy at Phillip Island. “I do driver training with Lamborghini Cars Australia, so I know something about the cars, and I’ve seen them in action during the Australian GT Championship, but this will be my first time behind the wheel of the car.

“I’m excited too by what I can help Dilantha, Takuma Aoki and the team achieve through my years as a driver coach. I know they are both very experienced racers in their own rights, but if I can assist in any way in helping them and the team improve, it will be a win, regardless of what the results sheets say at the end of the day!”

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