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Audi Looking for Third Successive Victory at Bathurst

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ZETLAND, AUSTRALIA – Feb 5, 2013: After dominating the 2011 and 2012 running of the annual Bathurst 12-Hour event, Audi will again return this weekend [February 8-10] looking for its third consecutive victory, with both local and internationally run teams in contention for the title.

Multiple V8 Supercar champion Craig Lowndes will again line up for the German marque, with regular co-driver Warren Luff alongside, but this year the two Bathurst ‘veterans’ will join 2012 Audi recruit Rod Salmon for the event, while reigning Bathurst Champions [2011/2012] Christopher Mies [D] and Darryl O’Young [HK] will also form part of the local Audi assault.

Seven Audi R8 LMS race cars will be among the record 50+ local and international entries at this year’s Bathurst 12-Hour, with four locally prepared cars joined by entries from reigning teams champions Pheonix Racing [D], United Autosports [USA] and Dragonspeed [USA].

For Lowndes and Luff, 2013 presents a chance to make amends for losing to Mies/O’Young and Mark Basseng in 2011 by a mere seven tenths of a second, and failing to finish after an on-track incident last year – on both occasions partnered by Melbourne’s Mark Eddy.

This year they join Sydney businessman Rod Salmon, who also has two Bathurst 12 Hour victories to his name (2008/2009). After Mark Eddy announced he would retire from GT competition early last year, Lowndes and Luff were without a confirmed drive at Bathurst this year until Salmon purchased a new Audi R8 LMS ultra.

With his 2011/2012 team-mates moving to the other Melbourne Performance Centre prepared R8 LMS ultra, Eddy elected to sign experienced sports car drivers and ‘good mates’ Marc Cini (who shares ownership of the car) and Dean Grant to join him at Bathurst, and to make things interesting, two-time Bathurst winner Christopher Mies as well.

While the two high-profile local entries in their R8 ultras are expected to figure in the outright results, fellow Audi recruits Dean Koutsoumidis and Peter Conroy should not be discounted. Koutsoumidis has turned limited laps in his R8 LMS - purchased in late 2012 from Rod Salmon - but the experienced sports car pilot has already declared himself happy with his new purchase, a car he will share with regular co-driver Andrew McInnes and fellow Victorian Simon Middleton. Convinced that they too needed a ‘hired gun’, they quickly signed Darryl O’Young to tackle the 12-hour event.

And after campaigning a limited program of events in 2012, former Production Car star Peter Conroy too could surprise a few people in the R8 LMS he is sharing with reigning World Touring Car Champion Robert Huff and multiple international Formula 3 star, James Winslow, they may all be relative ‘rookies’ in the German-built machine, but all are accomplished drivers and keen to impress at Bathurst.

Rod Salmon (MPC/ Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra):
“It will be nice to join Craig and Warren who have really been the form drivers in the last two Bathurst 12-Hour races, in a car that has proven the benchmark in recent years. They were unlucky not to take the win in 2011, and fate intervened last year, so they’re both hungry for that first 12-Hour victory.”

Warren Luff (MPC/ Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra):
“There are so many elements to winning an endurance event, especially at somewhere as demanding as Bathurst. The weather can play a part, strategy calls on pit stops can play a part - there’s a lot of elements that need to be considered, but I know we have the car, we have the team, and really, with Rod as a former winner, and the experience Craig has here as well, I think we’re in as good a position to win the event as anyone.

Mark Eddy (MPC/Network Clothing/Hallmarc Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra):
“Marc [Cini] and I had been talking about it [doing a variety of international endurance events] for a while, and one thing led to another. We were in the closing stages of 2012 and we thought we’d better do something about it. We rang Audi Sport in Germany about a new R8 ultra, and they would have sent one, but unfortunately it would have been touch and go as to whether it would have arrived in time [for Bathurst].

“They suggested that the car which Edoardo Mortara [Audi factory DTM pilot] took to victory at the Macau Grand Prix was sitting on the docks in Hong Kong waiting to be transported back to Germany, so we decided to take that.”

Darryl O’Young (Minda Motorsport/Equity-One Audi R8 LMS GT3):
"I'm very excited to be back for the 12-Hours of Bathurst in the Audi R8 LMS,” O’Young said. “It’s one of my favorite races of the season as Mount Panorama is a spectacular circuit to drive on. “I have to thank the team at Minda Motorsport and Equity-One Mortgage Fund for giving me the opportunity to return to the race and try for a three-peat. It wouldn't have been fun watching the race from the sidelines.” Opening practice for the 2013 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour begins on Friday, February 8 at 7:45am, with qualifying at 7:45am on Saturday (February 9), with the 12 Hour race underway at 7:00am on Sunday, February 10.