19 January 2023 |

Launch Racing take GT Trophy class on debut

Launch Racing’s Michael Kokkinos started the 2022 Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS season as the oldest rookie and finished on the ultimate high as GT Trophy Class champion by the final round.

Kokkinos’ solo drives in his Audi R8 LMS Ultra GT3 at Queensland Raceway and The Bend led to podium finishes at each event to set up a tilt at class victory at the season ending VALO Adelaide 500.

Sitting second in class standings behind defending class winner Brad Schumacher sharing the similar Audi R8 LMS GT3 Ultra from Valmont Racing heading into the VALO 500, Kokkinos placed third, first and first in each of the three 40-minute races to achieve his maiden round victory to take the GT Trophy title.

“In a weekend fuelled with chaos and carnage, the team at MPC did the math and kept reminding me that I needed to have three clean races to have any chance of taking out the title,” Kokkinos reflected.

“One incident is all it was going to take to change the outcome, and it did, fortunately for me it fell in my favour.”

“I had some great battles out there with the likes of Brad Schumacher, Sergio Pires, Scott Taylor and Matthew Belford, as I believe the tactical decisions made by MPC proved to be the difference between taking a title home or not at the finale.”

Melbourne Performance Centre boss Troy Russell paid credit to Kokkinos’ dedication and commitment towards honing his race craft and for his ability to race clean.

“Michael was impressive,” Russell remarked.

“Never having raced on a street circuit before, and in a weekend where the main highlight were big accidents, safety cars, red flags, restarts and with some of the best drivers buckling under the pressure, he kept his cool and stuck to the team plan. The end result wasn’t surprising to me.”

It’s been a strong finish to the season for MPC’s rookie and Kokkinos is already back on track prepping himself to do it all again for 2023. The question remains if Kokkinos will defend the GT Trophy title, or step up into the AM Class in a new set of wheels?

“The biggest thrill in all of this was the opportunity to be on track with some of the best Pro/Am drivers and teams in the world,” Kokkinos said. “Sharing track time with the likes of Chris Mies, Kelvin van der Linde, Shane van Gisbergen, Broc Feeney, Jamie Whincup, Garth Tander and Pro/Am champion Yasser Shahin not to mention the talented Fraser Ross and Liam Talbot was a huge buzz.  It has me thinking about what to do and where to place the team and I for the coming season.”

Launch Racing and Kokkinos will reveal its program for 2023 in due course.