Tuesday, September 16, 2014

FIA WEC: Kristensen looking to repeat last year’s WEC victory in Austin

Tom Kristensen Press Release

15 weeks after the Le Mans 24 Hours, the round in America marks the beginning of the overseas season in the WEC.

At Austin, Audi is returning to the short-tail body version with high downforce that had been used at the beginning of the season but not on the high-speed track at Le Mans. The sweeping corners of the roller-coaster track in the south of Texas featuring 20 directional changes were the scene of a thrilling exchange a year ago. After a distance of 1,031 kilometers and six hours of driving time, the victorious Audi was separated by only 23.6 seconds from its closest rival.

A year ago, Tom Kristensen won together with Loïc Duval and their former team-mate Allan McNish. Lucas di Grassi, a new member of the team since this season in car number 1, is the only Audi driver who has previously not been on the grid at Austin.

 "We're returning to Austin with great memories. A year ago, we drove for the first time on this new, absolutely fascinating track. In a sporting sense the race was a nice success as well, because we won and thus laid the foundation for our title win. With our good performance at Le Mans, we're now set on battling for victory. We're very happy that Loïc Duval is FIT again," says Tom Kristensen.

Photo credit: Audi Media

Monday, September 15, 2014

FIA WEC: Audi at Austin: Sights are set on repeating last year’s victory

Audi Press Release

  • Audi reaches for lead of WEC manufacturers’ standings
  • Adjusted rating of the hybrid sports cars
  • Eager anticipation of unusual roller-coaster ride in Texas

Ingolstadt, September 15, 2014 – Following its 13th victory at Le Mans, Audi is aiming to also grab the lead of the standings in the next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in North America. Before the fourth race of the season at Austin, Texas, on Saturday, September 20, World Champions Audi are trailing challenger Toyota by exactly one point in the manufacturers’ championship. In America, Audi is again meeting with its two fiercest rivals each having led laps at Le Mans in June.

15 weeks after the Le Mans 24 Hours, the round in America marks the beginning of the overseas season in the WEC. Several factors make for special suspense. At Le Mans, all three manufacturers of LMP1-H race cars took turns leading the race for several hours. In addition, the FIA and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) fine-tuned the rating of all hybrid race cars once more. The actual effects will only be visible in a race situation. However, Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich and Chris Reinke, Head of LMP, are not expecting any significant shifts in the relative STRENGTHS.

At Austin, Audi is returning to the short-tail body version with high downforce that had been used at the beginning of the season but not on the high-speed track at Le Mans. The sweeping corners of the roller-coaster track in the south of Texas featuring 20 directional changes were the scene of a thrilling exchange a year ago. After a distance of 1,031 kilometers and six hours of driving time, the victorious Audi was separated by only 23.6 seconds from its closest rival. A year ago, Tom Kristensen won together with Loïc Duval and their former team-mate Allan McNish. Lucas di Grassi, a new member of the team since this season in car number 1, is the only Audi driver who has previously not been on the grid at Austin.

The Le Mans winners Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer are sharing the cockpit in the number 2 sister car. In the drivers’ classification, they are trailing the Toyota leaders of the standings by 20 points. The best drivers can score 26 points per weekend in qualifying and the race, with a total of 130 points yet to be awarded until the season finale.

For Audi, the overseas season in America and Asia scheduled from September to November marks the beginning of a journey to several of the company’s most important sales regions around the world. The United States of America is an important growth market for the products with the four rings. From January to August, the company increased its deliveries compared to the same period in the prior year by 14.5 percent to 116,066 units, marking significantly faster growth than the total market.

TV viewers in Germany can watch the entire WEC race at Austin on Eurosport. On the internet, Audi will be providing reports about all practice and qualifying sessions and the race on Facebook (AudiSport), Twitter (@Audi__Sport), a news ticker on www.audi-motorsport.info, and on the Audi Sport App.

Topics of the weekend

-How will the balance of performance pan out in the WEC following Le Mans?
-Will the joint weekend of the FIA WEC and the United SportsCar Championship see a particularly large turnout of fans?
-Will Audi manage to leave Austin as the leader of the manufacturers’ standings?
-Which of the two Audi driver teams will make the stronger showing in Texas?

Quotes by the officials

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “A year ago, the WEC raced at Austin for the first time. We all have fond memories and are already looking forward to the track. This year, the WEC and the United SportsCar Championship are holding their races on the same day so the spectators can expect a great sports car weekend. Following Le Mans, we’re totally motivated to clinch a top-class result, as the results in the first two WEC races of the season did not match our expectations. But we also know how tough the competition is this year.”

Chris Reinke (Head of LMP): “The entire squad thoroughly prepared for the remainder of the season because we’re aiming to defend our WEC titles. At Austin, Loïc Duval will be back on board after having successfully completed his medical checks, receiving his license again and doing a test for us at the beginning of September. In terms of technology, we’re returning to the body version with high downforce and have optimized the operation of our hybrid system for Austin. We’re set on battling for victory in Texas.”

Ralf Jüttner (Team Director Audi Sport Team Joest): “The track at Austin should suit us well and the whole squad is looking forward to it because we experienced a great event a year ago. In the balance of performance there have been a few minimal shifts. We’re going to have a little less diesel energy available to us per lap but the flow rate, which has an influence on engine power output, is a little higher now. At the same time, Toyota and Porsche received refueling flow limiters that have minimally increased in size. This will provide them with a slight advantage during pit stops. I’m expecting a very thrilling race in which we’re aiming to battle for victory.”

Facts and quotes by the Audi drivers

Lucas di Grassi (30/BR), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
-Is driving a race at Austin for the first time
-Together with Tom Kristensen is in third place of the standings
“In the second half of the season, we’re set on attacking. We led the race at Le Mans some of the time. And we finished as the runners-up, just like we previously had at Spa. There are five more races coming up and we’re separated from our team-mates by only six points. Anything is still possible this year. I’m eager to see what it will be like to drive the Audi R18 e-tron quattro on the Circuit of the Americas. All of my team-mates are raving about it.”

Loïc Duval (32/F), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
-Won at Austin last year together with his two team-mates
“When we drove at Austin for the first time last year, we immediately won. This victory was an important milestone on the way to winning the World Championship. The track is wonderful. Many of the 20 corners are very challenging. In addition, the vertical differences make the track very special, plus we all enjoyed the city of Austin with its musical scene and flair.”

Tom Kristensen (47/DK), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
-Celebrated victory at Austin a year ago
“We’re returning to Austin with great memories. A year ago, we drove for the first time on this new, absolutely fascinating track. In a sporting sense the race was a nice success as well, because we won and thus laid the foundation for our title win. With our good performance at Le Mans, we’re now set on battling for victory. We’re very happy that Loïc Duval is FIT again.”

Marcel Fässler (38/CH), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
-Is the only Swiss to date to have won the Le Mans 24 Hours
-Has had a particular liking for American race tracks for a long time
“I enjoy driving in America very much and can hardly wait to return to this great race track at Austin. After Le Mans, the gap to the front runners has clearly shrunk. Now we’re aiming to make up further points to keep the Championship thrilling.”

André Lotterer (32/D), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
-In 2012 was WEC Champion with Marcel Fässler and Benoît Tréluyer
-Is currently in second place of the standings together with his team-mates
“The victory at Le Mans was fantastic. Now we’re back in contention for the Championship. I’m confident that our Audi will be capable of winning at Austin. After a long break, we’re traveling to Texas highly motivated. The track is great, and so is the entire environment.”

Benoît Tréluyer (37/F), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
-In June, won the Le Mans 24 Hours with Audi for the third time
-In July, was on the grid of the Spa 24 Hours with his two team-mates
“I’m very much looking forward to Austin because both the city and the race track exude a special atmosphere. Unfortunately, we were only third in the race last year due to an incident but our lap times were good. This year, following our victory at Le Mans, we’re going to battle for the title.”

The Audi drivers at Austin

Lucas di Grassi (BR): * Aug 11, 1984 in São Paulo (BR), residence: Monaco (MC); married to Anna; height: 1.79 m; WEIGHT: 75 kg; Audi driver since 2012; Le Mans victories: 0; WEC races: 6; WEC victories: 0; WEC pole positions: 0; fastest WEC laps: 1; best result WEC Austin: –

Loïc Duval (F): * Jun 12, 1982 in Chartres (F); residence: Geneva (CH); married to Gaëlle, two sons (Hugo and Martin); height: 1.78 m; weight: 70 kg; Audi driver since 2012; Le Mans victories: 1; WEC races: 13; WEC victories: 4; WEC pole positions: 2; fastest WEC laps: 1; best result WEC Austin: 1

Marcel Fässler (CH): * May 27, 1976 in Einsiedeln (CH); residence: Gross (CH); married to Isabel, four daughters (Shana, Elin, Yael and Delia); height: 1.78 m; weight: 78 kg; Audi driver since 2008; Le Mans victories: 3; WEC races: 19; WEC victories: 7; WEC pole positions: 2; fastest WEC laps: 1; best result WEC Austin: 3

Tom Kristensen (DK): * Jul 07, 1967 in Hobro (DK); residence: Hobro (DK); single (partner: Hanne), two sons (Oliver and Oswald) and one daughter (Carla Marlou); height: 1.74 m; weight: 72 kg; Audi driver since 2000, Le Mans victories: 9; WEC races: 19; WEC victories: 4; WEC pole positions: 0; fastest WEC laps: 2; best result WEC Austin: 1

André Lotterer (D): * Nov 19, 1981 in Duisburg (D); residence: Tokyo (J); single; height: 1.84 m; weight: 74 kg; Audi driver since 2010; Le Mans victories: 3; WEC races: 19; WEC victories: 7; WEC pole positions: 4; fastest WEC laps: 6; best result WEC Austin: 3

Benoît Tréluyer (F): * Dec 07, 1976 in Alençon (F); residence: Gordes (F); married to Melanie, one son (Jules); height: 1.78 m; weight: 68 kg; Audi driver since 2010; Le Mans victories: 3; WEC races: 19; WEC victories: 7; WEC pole positions: 3; fastest WEC laps: 2; best result WEC Austin: 3

All Austin winners (since 2013)

2013 Loïc Duval/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish (Audi)

Track info

Track length: 5.513 km
Race duration: 6 hours
Qualifying record on this track: Loïc Duval/Allan McNish (Audi), 1m 48.355s (183.164 km/h), Sep 21, 2013
Race record on this track: Benoît Tréluyer (Audi), 1m 47.375s (184.836 km/h), Sep 22, 2013
Pole position 2013: Loïc Duval/Allan McNish (Audi), 1m 48.355s (183.164 km/h), Sep 21, 2013
Fastest lap 2013: Benoît Tréluyer (Audi), 1m 47.375s (184.836 km/h), Sep 22, 2013

FIA WEC World Championship titles
2012 Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (Audi)
2013 Loïc Duval/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish (Audi)

Benoît Tréluyer about the track at Austin

“A year ago, we raced at Austin for the first time. We immediately liked the circuit in Texas a lot. The clearly noticeable vertical differences are unusual for a new track. We approach the first corner on a steep uphill section, can barely sense the apex, have to shift down into first gear, and then find ourselves in a very wide left-hand turn. It is followed by a sequence of really fast and a few slower corners before we drive through a hairpin. Following a long straight, we reach a narrow section that is typical for many new circuits. After a final fast and two slow sections we’re back at the start and finish. The great atmosphere in Texas matches this beautiful and modern race track. We really enjoy competing in the USA with the WEC.”

Schedule (local times; CEST – 7 hours)

Thursday, September 18
14.45–16.15 Free practice 1
19.30–21.00 Free practice 2

Friday, September 19
10.20–11.20 Free practice 3
18.35–19.00 Qualifying LMP1 and LMP2

Satuday, September 20
17.00–23.00 6-hour race

Photo credit: Audi Media

Sunday, September 14, 2014

DTM: Timo Scheider clinches third place for Audi

Audi Press Release

  • First podium of the season for the two-time DTM Champion
  • Miguel Molina and Mike Rockenfeller score points as well
  • DTM manufacturers’ classification remains open
Ingolstadt/Lausitzring, September 14, 2014 – Audi driver Timo Scheider clinched third place, marking his first podium result of the season, at the Lausitzring in front of 58,000 spectators (throughout the weekend).

On an initially wet track, the two-time DTM Champion in the AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Phoenix was in the group of front runners from the beginning of the race. On lap 22, Scheider advanced to third place, continuously made up ground to the second-placed Christian Vietoris after switching to slicks, and drove the fastest race lap in the process. However, the Mercedes Benz driver fended off his attack on the final lap.

“My race was good in what very difficult conditions at times,” said Scheider. “I didn’t even notice all the things that were happening behind me. I’m very happy for my guys that I finally brought home a podium result. It almost turned out to be second place. ‘Thank you’ to Audi and Team Phoenix for a superb JOB.”

Scheider was the only Audi driver at Lausitz who had a reason to cheer. On a wet track, almost all the Audi drivers were complaining about a lack of grip, resulting in excursions, spins and collisions. With Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM) from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline in ninth place and Scheider’s team-mate Mike Rockenfeller (Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM) in position ten, two other Audi drivers finished in the points.

Edoardo Mortara in the Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM finished the race in 16th place. The Italian was the only driver in the field to start the race on slicks. However, the tire gamble did not pan out, as Mortara was lapped twice.

Both Audi RS 5 DTM cars of Audi Sport Team Rosberg retired with shifting problems following contacts. While Jamie Green in the Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM was still classified in 17th place, Nico Müller had to park his Financial Services Audi RS 5 DTM in the pits after just 14 laps.

Adrien Tambay had to park his Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM with a damaged right front suspension shortly before the end of the race following an incident of contact and Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM) did not see the checkered flag either. At the start, the Swede dropped from second to sixth place and lost further ground due to an excursion into the gravel trap. The race was ‘over for good’ following a failed pit stop at which the left front wheel of his RS 5 DTM was not properly tightened.

As a result, the decision in the 2014 DTM drivers’ classification was made early in favor of BMW driver Marco Wittmann. In the manufacturers’ standings the narrow gap between BMW and Audi has remained unchanged at 18 points and is therefore still open.

“Congratulations to Marco Wittmann on winning the title,” said Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport. “He’s been on a similar roll this year as Mike Rockenfeller was in the past season. Congratulations also to Timo Scheider on his first podium finish this year. We’ve got analyze for our own purposes why things weren’t going well particularly with the rain tires on the initial laps.”

In two weeks from now the next DTM race is coming up at Zandvoort (the Netherlands).

Photo credit: Audi Media

Italian GT: At Vallelunga race two Dindo Capello, Emanuele Zonzini grab runner-up spot

Audi Sport Italia Press Release

  • Audi pair now is six points adrift of leading Ferrari 458 duo
  • Capello, Zonzini ninth try finally bring them back into the Top3
Campagnano di Roma, Italy – Audi Sport Italia's R8s had their best balance right for the final day of the fifth Italian GT meeting at Vallelunga: their drivers may haven't clinched either pole positions or fastest laps, but after a difficult Saturday race, which wound up with Capello, Zonzini in P5 and Mapelli, Schoffler in P8 both cars had stepped up to challenge, and when time to pit came one was leading as the other was lying fourth not far behind, both close in the time sheets to the series top performers. As it is, Capello didn't miss the chance to grab a well deserved second place; however Schoeffler, who planned to build on the lead that Mapelli had built, didn't had the chance to do so as the rear axle didn't budge when the air jacks went down. The Italian-German duo retirement means that they now trail new leaders Raffaele Giammaria, Lorenzo Casè by six points, as the #27 Ferrari claimed P6 today.

A quick look to yesterday's race starting grid seemed harbinger of a Saturday where it all could come together for Dindo Capello and Emanuele Zonzini to return to a Top3 finish, without further waiting: they were starting from P5, moreover they'd be spared time penalties at the mandatory pit-stop. Unfortunately the plan did not take into account problems with gear shifting that blighted the 3-time Le Mans winner stint. However they managed to seal off the Saturday as best Audi crew on track, as a staff tweak at the pit-stop seemed to solve the problem. Therefore Zonzini climbed back into fifth position overtaking the Ferrari that claimed the win at Paul Ricard as race time was expiring. Schoeffler tiptoed outiside and inside the Top10 throughout his stint at Autodromo Piero Taruffi, handing the #6 Audi to team mate Mapelli in P10, with a 10-second time levy waiting for him due to Paul Ricard podium finish. The Lombard driver moved past a couple of rivals grabbing the three points awarded to eight place, an outcome that let rivals Casè-Giammaria slip by as new series leader, although by a lone point, as the Ferrari pair pole position translated into third position. The race again saw the Mirko Bortolotti and Giacomo Barri's Lamborghini cruise to win.

The race one results were obviously disappointing, but the Audi camp was hardly wrenching, as everybody knew that Mapelli and Zonzini would have take on Sunday's race from the front row and row two respectively. Pole sitting Bortolotti's car sputtered away from the lights, giving fellow front row sitter Mapelli an opportunity to make an immediate challenge which wound up with the former Italian GT champ taking the lead from Casè and Frassineti's Ferrari. His solid drive made sure that he would not have relinqueshed the lead until lap 16, when he pitted as last of the leading cars to do so. Sadly a mechanical problem prevented his team mate Schoeffler from continuing their chase to the third season win, as the German could not even restart the #6 Audi to resume the fray. Luckily for the Audi Sport Italia colors, this time out team mates Capello and Zonzini were on their way back to the Top3, a position that had escaped them since their win in the Misano Adriatico opener. Zonzini finished his stint after a consistent drive in fourth place, and Capello made the most of the time handicaps that the leading cars had to cope with, grabbing a well deserved second place although squeezed in a sandwich between the Ferraris of sporstcar specialists Alex Balzan and Matteo Malucelli.

Photo credit: Audi Sport Italia

Formula E: Lucas di Grassi snatches win after dramatic last corner crash

Formula E Press Release

Audi Sport ABT’s Lucas di Grassi stole victory in the inaugural Formula E Evergrande Spring Beijing ePrix after Nicolas Prost and Nick Heidfeld crashed in a last corner battle for the lead.

Heidfeld walked away unscathed from a nasty looking incident after contact with Prost left him unable to control the car and flipped into the tyre barrier.

As the pair approached the final corner the Venturi driver dived up the inside in an attempt to the take the lead. The Frenchman moved left to defend and inevitably lead to their wheels colliding.

Heidfeld said: “I thought it was going to be a very big crash as well. Once I hit the kerb it felt like I was in the air forever. I closed my eyes and waited for the impact and then I thought ‘Oh that was lucky!’ I have a small pain in my calf but apart from that I’m perfectly fine.”

After clambering out from underneath the car Heidfeld, clearly aggravated, confronted Prost. However, Di Grassi won’t complain as he picks up the full 25 points and with it takes the lead of the championship.

He said: “Firstly, I’m happy Nick [Heidfeld] is ok and it shows how safe these cars are. To win the race is like a dream come true. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. The team did a great job all through practice and qualifying, yes we made a few mistakes but overall I’m extremely happy to be the first ever winner of a Formula E race.”

Andretti driver Franck Montagny finished runner-up nearly three seconds adrift of Di Grassi as the Brazilian’s team-mate Daniel Abt crossed the line in third place. On return to the pitlane Abt was handed a time penalty for exceeding the battery consumption. The German driver used 28.2kW of the allocated 28kW available.

Katherine Legge and Jaime Alguersuari were also penalised for being over the limit.

Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird was eventually promoted to claim the final place on the podium. Andretti’s new signing Charles Pic put on a strong display to finish fourth ahead of Karun Chandhok.

Mahindra team-mate Bruno Senna retired on the opening lap after being squeezed between the two Amlin Aguri cars. The Brazilian broke his left-front suspension and consequently brought out the Qualcomm Safety Car.

Despite topping four of the five pre-season tests, e.dams-Renault’s Sebastien Buemi failed to finished after retiring on lap 19.

Takuma Sato picked up two points for Amlin Aguri posting the fastest lap of a 1.45.101 in the final moments of the race.

After a dream start in the first ever Formula E race in Beijing, Lucas di Grassi begins his title assault on the Barcelona World Cup.

The next ePrix takes place in Putrajaya on November 22.

Photo credit: Auto Racing Live by Michelin

Saturday, September 13, 2014

DTM: Audi on front row of the grid at the Lausitzring

Audi Press Release

  • Mattias Ekström secures grid position two
  • Four Audi RS 5 DTM cars in the top six
  • Fog and rain make for difficult conditions
Ingolstadt/Lausitzring, September 13, 2014 – The two-time DTM Champion Mattias Ekström in his Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM will be starting the race at the Lausitzring from the front row of the grid. With four RS 5 DTM cars in the top six Audi is in a very good overall position for round eight of the season.

The spectators’ patience at Lausitz was tested on Saturday. Due to fog the rescue helicopter was grounded until the late afternoon. As a result, the DTM cars were able to go out on track for the first time at 4 p.m. And instead of two one-hour sessions the teams only had 15 minutes of free practice to prepare for qualifying.

In addition, a partially wet track made for difficult conditions which the Audi drivers, on the whole, managed to handle well. When the first part of qualifying had to be interrupted due to an excursion of a BMW driver Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM) was at the front of the field. The two-time DTM Champion again set the fastest time in the extended second section (Q2).

In the crucial third segment (Q3) Mattias Ekström struck. The Swede missed the pole position by merely 0.057 seconds and will be starting in a DTM race from the front row again for the first time since August 2013 (Moscow). “It was an impeccable performance. I drove without making mistakes and am happy,” said the Swede who before the race at the Lausitzring is in second place of the standings. “We’re enjoying this day and are looking forward to the race.”

Jamie Green (Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM) and Timo Scheider secured grid positions three and four. With that, drivers from Audi Sport Teams Abt Sportsline, Rosberg and Phoenix are starting from the first two rows. The strong performance by the Audi drivers was completed by Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM) taking sixth place.

Title defender Mike Rockenfeller in the Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM in tenth place just barely missed the leap into the top eight. Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM), Adrien Tambay (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM) and Nico Müller (Audi Financial Services Audi RS 5 DTM) secured grid positions 13, 18 and 20.

“We’ve got to be happy with four RS 5 cars among the top six – especially since the conditions today were extremely difficult,” said Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport. “I’m particularly pleased that Mattias (Ekström) has regained his former qualifying form. It’s been a long time since he started from the front row. We know how strong he is in the race. That gives rise to hopes for tomorrow. But Jamie (Green) and Timo (Scheider) clinched very good starting bases as well.”

The race at the Lausitzring will start at 13.30 on Sunday. ARD will start to air live coverage 13.15 (CEST). Mattias Ekström’s team director Hans-Jürgen Abt, who led Audi factory driver Lucas di Grassi to the historic victory in the inaugural race of the new FIA Formula E Championship in Beijing (China) on Saturday, will arrive at the Lausitzring in time for the race.

Photo credit: Audi Media

Pirelli World Challenge: Unbelievable bad luck hit Mike Skeen Audi in Utah race 1

By Tarek Ramchani

Audi driver and Pirelli World Challenge title contender Mike Skeen faced an unbelievable bad luck in yesterday's race 1 in Miller Motorsport Park in Utah. Overall it was a very hard race for the Audi squad with a single R8 LMS ultra within the Top 10.

The Audi driver of the #2 CRP Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra finished down in twenty-third place after a technical issue on his CRP Racing machine. Mike Skeen lost big points in the title battle against Cadillac's Johnny O'Connel, who finished second.

The best ranked Audi R8 LMS ultra was the #21 car from GMG Racing driven by Andrew Palmer in seventh place. Alex Welsch ended in twelfth place driving the #95 Audi R8 LMS ultra from GMG Racing. Jeff Courtney was fifteenth driving the #99 Audi R8 LMS ultra from JCR Motorsport. Brent Holden was sixteenth driving the #44 Audi R8 LMS ultra from GMG Racing.

Overall race victory went to Guy Smith driving the #88 Bentley Continental GT3 from Dyson Racing Team Bentley. Johnny O'Connel was second with the works #3 Cadillac CTS-V.R from Cadillac Racing. Third place to Butch Leitzinger with the #08 Bentley Continental GT3 from Dyson Racing Team Bentley.

Utah race 1 results can be seen here.

Race 2 is set for today, Mike Skeen chances to clinch the title are very slim, the Audi squad will fight for the manufacturers' title against Cadillac, the two brands with 85 points each.

Photo credit: Pirelli World Challenge /  Melissa K. Smith

Monday, September 8, 2014

World RX: Tidemand fifth in France after impressive effort

Pontus Tidemand Press Release

here was nothing but maximum attack in Pontus Tidemand's plan for the French round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship this weekend. After an opening day that he describes as the best one in his World RX journey so far, semi-final and final was a fact. The podium was within reach when Pontus caught a puncture in the middle of the ongoing final battle. He finished fifth - and thereby beat his previous best World RX result.

Pontus came to the eighth round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Loheac with confidence and a good feeling about the weekend. There was no doubt that the goal was to offer the competitors a proper fight, something that he incorporated from start. Already in the first of the four qualifying heats, he was second fastest overall and followed it up in the best possible manner with times that put him in third place for the Sunday finals. In the semi-final, he impressed big by quickly taking the lead, holding onto it through all six laps and be the first one to cross the finish line.

In the final, Pontus gave his all, but when he suffered a puncture, there was not much he could do. He ended up fifth overall, but was also rewarded with the Monster Energy Supercharge Award for being fastest to reach the first corner in the Supercar final.

"I have had my best weekend in the World RX so far, both when it comes to the feeling and the top five result" says Pontus. "It is obviously disappointing to be so close when bad luck strikes, but this is rallycross and anything can happen during a race. Apart from the puncture, everything has been running perfectly with the car and the team and I was able to be among the three fastest all through the qualifying heats and also win a semi-final."

Now awaits a short but well deserved recharge for Pontus and EKS before it is time for the next round of the World RX series, which takes place at Estering in Germany in two weeks' time.

Photo credit: Pontus Tidemand

BTCC: Robb Holland adds to BTCC points tally at Rockingham

Rotek Racing Press Release

Rotek Racing and Robb Holland continue to take strides forwards in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) after securing more points in a frantic raceday at Corby’s Rockingham Motor Speedway (7 September).

Despite having never raced on the Corby circuit prior to this weekend, Rotek Racing’s Holland was quick to pick up from where he left off at Knockhill, as the BTCC crossed back over the border into England for the eighth meeting of Britain’s premier motor racing championship.

Having scored the team’s first point at Snetterton last month, Holland’s sole objective was to add to that tally as he lined-up 24th for the first of the weekend’s three races.

As the vast array of touring cars lined-up on the grid for the first time, the four red lights went out and Holland, who was one of seven drivers that opted to start on the softer, but less durable Dunlop tyres, wrestled his Audi’s wheelspin and fell into the clutches of the faster-starting Glynn Geddie as the 31-car field sprinted towards the banked Turn 1.

Holland latched onto the rear wing of his United Autosports rival throughout much of the 18-lap contest, which was interrupted by the Safety Car following a heavy collision between Lea Wood and Warren Scott at the Deene hairpin.

The Oakley Motorsports-backed Holland became embroiled in several bumper-to-bumper battles with the more experienced drivers on the grid, before making an opportunistic dive up the inside of Marc Hynes at the Brook chicane to snatch 21st on the final lap.

With six places separating him and the points, Holland lined-up on the grid for the second race full of determination, aiming to propel his new-for-2014 Audi S3 saloon up the leaderboard.

The Denver-domiciled driver was able to negotiate his way around the 1.94mile circuit and avoid the many frantic battles to bring his car home in an impressive 19th place after using some muscle to defend his position from several established drivers, despite lacking mechanical grip on the harder compound Dunlop tyres.

As engine notes rose and exhausts popped and banged for the final time at Rockingham, Holland once again negotiated his way through the ensuing contact to sit on the cusp of a points-paying position by the close of the opening two tours.

As the race reached the halfway point, Holland was overtaken by the Crabbies-liveried Ford Focus ST of Jack Clarke, which looked to have denied the Silverstone and Nürburgring team of yet more points. But, in the dying laps, Holland threw caution to the wind and slipped passed the United Autosports Toyota Avensis of Glynn Geddie to move back into the 15th for another point.

“We learn something new every weekend, so we’re constantly improving the setup on the car,” said Holland. “The surface here at Rockingham is really abrasive and, as we haven’t put a lot of pressure on the tyres in the last couple of races, we weren’t aggressive on the setup. This worked for the beginning of the races, but we noticed some considerable drop-off towards the end. We were hoping that we’d go with the soft tyres early and then everyone else would be using them in race three and fall off, which they did, but as we saw them drop-off as well, we weren’t able to capitalise.

“It always feels good to pick up points in this series, considering how tough it is, and shows that we are taking the necessary steps forward. Rotek Racing works really hard in between races to put a car together that is going to be an improvement over the last race, which I think this car was. I feel we are now midfield and challenging for points and the teams around us are aware of that. Now we’ll look to Silverstone, where hopefully we will continue moving upwards.”

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) will resume at The Home of British Motorsport, Silverstone, in three weeks’ time (27-28 September).

For more on Rotek Racing, visit the official www.rotekracing.com website, ‘like’ the team’s Facebook page or follow @rotekracing on Twitter.

Photo credit: Rotek Racing

BTCC: Victory for Rob Austin, Exocet Racing at Rockingham

Rob Austin Racing Press Release

Worcestershire’s Rob Austin (Evesham) celebrated his 100th Dunlop British Touring Car race weekend in the best possible style with a hugely popular victory at Northamptonshire’s Rockingham circuit this afternoon.

Rob won the third of the day’s three races by leading every lap in front of the live ITV4 cameras. Notably his win is the first for his Audi in Exocet Racing colours and the second of his career after he also won at Rockingham 12 months ago.

The win capped the most competitive showing to date this season for his Pershore-based Rob Austin Racing squad which prepares his and team-mate Hunter Abbot’s Audis. Indeed Hunter was also one of the stars of the day as he made up a staggering 17 places in race 1 to finish in 14th in his AlcoSense Breathalysers Racing machine (problems in qualifying meant he started 31st and last). That was just two places behind Rob in 12th as he reached his landmark BTCC century in race 1.

In race 2 Rob and Hunter were on the move again as they finished in excellent fifth and 10th positions respectively – the first time this year that both RAR-run cars had crossed the line inside the top 10. While Rob was able to achieve the win in race 3, though, there was heartbreak for Hunter whose car retired on the opening lap with damage following contact from a rival.

Meanwhile Rob’s win in race 3 has elevated him to a fine ninth position in the BTCC drivers’ standings.

“I feel a party coming on! What a day...” commented Rob. “I was unhappy with qualifying only 13th fastest yesterday but it seems 13 is lucky for some! To win again is something else and it gives everyone in the team another massive lift following our strong showing in the previous rounds at Knockhill.

“We’d opted to run the softer compound tyre in race 3 so I really had to nurse it in the opening laps and with the ‘old master’ (and former double champ) Alain Menu right behind me it was a balancing act between keeping him just out of reach but not overcooking the rubber. At mid-distance I decided to get the hammer down and then in the closing laps, when I could feel the tyres start to fade, I’d got enough of a lead over him.

“But the win is not just down to me of course. Everyone in the team goes to incredible lengths behind the scenes whether that’s back at base in Pershore or in our pit garage at the track – last night the boys were here until midnight working on both cars, going through the data and making the set-up better on both cars. But that is what it takes and it’s paid off.

“I’m also delighted for Hunter today. It’s still his first season at this level and I’ve been saying for a while he was going to be one to watch. Hopefully the pace and racecraft he’s demonstrated this weekend will really make people sit up and take notice.”

Hunter said: “I’m very satisfied with how the first two races panned out – in race 1 it was great fun overtaking so many people but I certainly don’t think I could have wrung any more from the car! In race 2 I got trapped behind a slower driver for several laps which was frustrating but once past I flew which again showed just how competitive we’ve been here.

"Race 3… what can I say except I’m gutted? Like Rob I’d gone for the soft tyre option and who knows where I might have got to – I was already up to eighth when I got harpooned from the rear.

“But there are some massive positives to take from the weekend and I can’t wait for the next three races at my home circuit of Silverstone in three weeks (27/28 Sept).”

Photo credit: Rob Austin Racing / Phil Laughton Photography

Sunday, September 7, 2014

BRCC: Maiden win for PK Carsport Audi R8 LMS ultra at Spa-Francorchamps

By Tarek Ramchani

PK Carsport scored a great victory yesterday at Spa-Francorchamps with their brand new Audi R8 LMS ultra. The Belgian Audi Sport customer racing team was impressive in the Belgian Racing Car Championship (BRCC) 3-hour endurance race

The winning #1 Audi was shared by Anthony Kumpen, Bert Longin and Frank Belien. The three drivers finished ahead of the #100 Aston Martin V12 Vantage and the #99 Porsche 997 GT3-R.

After a lot of bad luck in the opening rounds of the BRCC, PK Carsport drivers, team members and the Belgian Audi Club were delighted with this great race win.

Another Audi team entered the BRCC round 5 with an old specification R8 LMS, JB Motorsport from Sweden. The #3 car in the hands of Jan Brunstedt, Mikael Bender and Magnus Dybeck finished in a strong fourth overall and took a fine GTP class victory.

BRCC round 5 results can be seen here.

Photo credit: BRCC

Saturday, September 6, 2014

BTCC: Austin vows race day fightback at Rockingham‏

Rob Austin Racing Press Release

Worcestershire’s Rob Austin (Evesham) was disappointed to qualify a much lower than anticipated 13th for tomorrow’s three Dunlop British Touring Car rounds at Northamptonshire’s Rockingham circuit but believes he can still fight for podium results in the races.

The Exocet Racing Audi star set a best qualifying lap time of 1m23.578s to give himself a seventh row starting position when he lines up on the race 1 grid tomorrow.

Rob commented: “I am very, very, very disappointed – gutted in fact. I couldn’t get the car working to its optimum and even though I am only four tenths of a second off fourth the level of competition in the BTCC means I’m a lot further back than I was aiming for – I really felt a top six was on the cards.

“It’s left me needing to do a lot of overtaking in race 1 tomorrow to give myself a good grid position for race 2 but I believe we have the pace in race trim to come back at a lot of the cars ahead of us. Podiums are still possible and that is what I am going for, but race 1 will play a big part in that. Right now I’m off for a long, quiet sit down and a big think into the night…”

For Rob’s team-mate Hunter Abbott (Maidenhead), this afternoon’s qualifying session ended early when his AlcoSense Breathalysers Racing Audi cruelly suffered a terminal loss of drive on his first flying lap. It meant he was unable to set a competitive lap time so will have to start tomorrow’s opening race from 31st and last on the huge grid.

Hunter said: “I was towards the end of the lap and suddenly there was virtually nothing when I put my foot down. Luckily there was just enough left to crawl back to the pit lane in first gear but that was it, game over. The team really went to town on the car to try and fix it and get me back out there, but clearly it’s something major that's gone wrong.

“It is frustrating as Rob and I had set near-identical lap times in the earlier second free practice session. I was confident of qualifying inside the top half but now I’ve really got it all to do tomorrow. But Rob obviously had a win here last year and we know the Audi is very good in race trim around here as well so let’s see how far I can get…”

Tomorrow’s three BTCC races from Rockingham will be broadcast live as part of a mammoth seven hour show on ITV4 (10.45am-5.45pm).

Photo credit: Rob Austin Racing / Phil Laughton Photography