Friday, February 27, 2015

Super GT: Stéphane Ortelli joins Hitotsuyama Racing for endurance events in Japan

By Johan Laubscher

On Wednesday Hitotsuyama Racing announced that they will be returning to the 2015 Super GT with support from W Racing (WRT) from Belgium.

The Japanese Audi Sport customer racing team will be entering one Audi R8 LMS ultra with the 2014 driving duo of Richard Lyons and Tomonobu Fujii. It was mentioned that they will be joined by a third driver who could possibly be an Audi factory driver.

On Friday it was announced that a driver with extensive Audi R8 LMS ultra experience and a very strong track record with WRT will be joining the team in Japan - none other than Stéphane Ortelli.

He will be joining Audi Team Hitotsuyama for the endurance events this year, rounds two and five, the Fuji 500 km and the Suzuka 1000 km.

The 2015 Super GT season will get underway at Okayama from 4-5 April.

Photo credit: Audi Communications - Motorsport

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pirelli World Challenge: GMG Racing testing Sofronas' blue Audi R8 LMS ultra at The Thermal Club

By Johan Laubscher

It has been a busy week of testing for GMG Racing. The team was testing with Alex Welch's Audi R8 LMS ultra at the Circuit of The Americas earlier this week and then also went to the Thermal Club for further testing towards the end of the week.

The testing at the Thermal Club included James Sofronas in his newly re-coloured Audi R8 LMS ultra, now sporting a blue colour-scheme. Sofronas also had his first taste of the new Huracan Super Trofeo during the day's proceedings.

The 2015 Pirelli World Challenge will be getting underway at the Circuit of The Americas from 6-8 March.

Photo credit: GK Systems

Interview with Audi Sport TT Cup driver Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky - Part 2

By Tarek Ramchani

Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky is a young and talented driver from Sweden. She has successfully competed in the Volkswagen Sicrocco R-Cup taking a great win in this demanding single make series. Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky will compete in the newly formed Audi Sport TT Cup this year.

We were pleased to have an interview with Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky. A very interesting Q/A about her 2014 season in the Volkswagen Sicrocco R-Cup, her expectations for 2015 and more.

You can follow Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky racing news and updates on her official Facebook page, and her official Twitter account.

This is part two of the interview (Part one is here).

How great is for the Audi Sport TT Cup to share the weekends with a prestigious championship like the DTM?

Is one of the most important things in the Cup. Both regarding spectators, and also to get the chance to “show yourself” in the same area as your goal (DTM) is.

What are your targets for the upcoming 2015 season?

Like I said before, my goal is to do my own best, and hopefully that results in even results during the year, and to be a top driver.

Which race track is your favourite? 

A driver always likes the tracks where they’ve made good results, so for me of course Norisring is one of my favourites, but I also like “hilly” tracks like Red Bull Ring and Nürburgring.

You did some rallycross events in the past. How about a ride with EKS RX Audi team in FIA World Rallycross Championship?

That would be so fun! I really enjoyed testing RX, so if I’d get that opportunity I would definitely not say no to it!

Looking at Audi's full factory motorsport effort, do you prefer FIA WEC/Le Mans 24 Hours or the DTM?

Same here, I wouldn’t say no to anything if I would get the great chance to do one of these events, but my goal is definitely the DTM.

What are your dreams for the future within your motor racing career?

To drive the DTM, and to be a top driver there. That’s my dream.

Photo credit: Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky / Audi MediaVolkwagen Motorsport

Australian GT: Impressive qualifying and Trophy class pole position for Audi teams at Adelaide

By Tarek Ramchani

The 2015 Australian GT Championship has started at Adelaide, the opening round supporting the prestigious V8 Supercars. Six Audi R8 LMS and ultra cars are taking part in the event showing great performances and strong pace.

The Audi Sport customer racing and Melbourne Performance Centre squad performed very well in all of the free practice sessions and was able to do the same in the official qualifying session. A total of three Audi R8 LMS ultra cars made it into the Top 5 in qualifying.

Audi factory GT driver, Christopher Mies, took a very strong second place after a thrilling qualifying session. The #74 Audi R8 LMS ultra from JAMEC-PEM Racing set a best time of 1:21.53, only 0.0465s behind the pole setting Ferrari 458 GT3. Christopher Mies is sharing his Audi with Greg Crick.

Another Audi performing well was the #6 R8 LMS ultra from Skwirk/Beechwood Homes. Nathan Antunes took a very strong fourth place overall.

Steven McLaughlan and Steven Johnson, with the second entry from JAMEC-PEM Racing, were fifth fastest driving the #75 Audi R8 LMS ultra.

A very strong performance from Greg Taylor and Barton Mawer, they took the Trophy class pole position and a fine eighth place overall. The two drivers are sharing the #38 Audi R8 LMS from Greg Taylor Racing.

The remaining two Audis were outside the Top 10. Peter Fitzgerald driving the #2 Audi R8 LMS ultra Eva Racing/Evolve Technik was eleventh. Mark Griffith behind the wheel of the #19 Audi R8 LMS of Griffith Corporation Motorsport was eighteenth.

Photo credit: Christopher Mies / Australian GT

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Pirelli World Challenge: JCR Motorsports Announces Two-Car Program for 2015

JCR Motorsports Press Release

Milwaukee, WI – Feb 25, 2015 -JCR Motorsports announced today their return to Pirelli World Challenge competition with a two-car, two-class effort. Series veteran, team owner and driver of the No. 99 Kenda Tire/ Audi R8 Ultra Jeff Courtney will return to GT-A class competition while teammate Mitch Landry will take on the newly formed Porsche GT Cup class in his #97 Landry Racing Porsche 991 GT3 Cup car.

Courtney ran successfully in the initial season of GT-A competition, achieving fifth overall in the Championship point’s standings. Courtney proved to be a strong GT-A competitor, achieving four podium finishes in twelve races including a third place at the Long Beach Grand Prix, two third place finishes at Road America and a second place finish at Sonoma.  Courtney brings a wealth of knowledge to the table regarding the Audi platform and GTA class racing.

“After about one and one-half seasons with our R8 I believe we have learned quite a bit,” said Courtney. “I believe we have the right engineering and crew in place this season to put us in a better position than ever to be more competitive.  We are very happy and thankful to have all of our sponsors returning, including our main sponsors, Kenda Tire and We hope to make a strong run for the GT-A Championship.”

Former GTS competitor Mitch Landry will transition to the all-new Porsche GT Cup Class. Landry entered Pirelli World Challenge competition in the 2013 season and campaigned a Ford Mustang for two years achieving multiple top-ten finishes. Landry placed a competitive twelfth-place overall in the 2014 GTS Championship.

Landry is no stranger to the Porsche GT Cup class platform as he competed for two years in the IMSA GT Cup Challenge and finished third overall in 2011.

“We are looking forward to working with Jeff and the JCR Motorsports team,” said Landry. “I would like to thank my sponsors and family at Deep South and VersaCrane for allowing me the opportunity to race. The new Porsche GT3 Cup car is awesome to drive and the dependability is unmatched.  I hope to give the young guns some competition, as it looks like I will be the senior of the group - and to have some fun in the process.”

The Pirelli World Challenge 2015 season begins at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on March 6-8. Circuit of the Americas is a 3.4 mile track designed with Formula 1 in mind. The circuit includes 20 technical turns and dramatic elevation changes, notably a 133-foot climb that preludes Turn 1.

Live streaming will be available at Streaming for GT/GT-A/GT Cup Round 1 begins on Saturday, March 7 at 3:50 PM ET. Round 2 of GT/GT-A/GT Cup competition can be streamed live on Sunday, March 8 at 2:50 PM ET. Both races will be broadcasted on CBS Sports Network on Saturday, March 14 at 11:00 AM ET.

Photo credit: JCR Motorsports

Super GT: Hitotsuyama Racing joins forces with WRT for 2015 in Japan

By Johan Laubscher

Hitotsuyama Racing has announced that it will be supported by W Racing Team (WRT) for its 2015 campaign in the Japanese Super GT.

The Audi Team Hitotsuyama squad will again be entering one Audi R8 LMS ultra in the GT300 class of the Japanese series. This #21 entry will be driven by the team's duo from 2014, Richard Lyons and Tomonobu Fujii. The third driver for longer events will be announced later, but the possibility of the team being joined by an Audi factory driver also exists.

An Audi R8 LMS ultra from WRT arrived in Japan during January. The collaboration deal with WRT includes engineer and mechanic support from WRT at all of the Super GT events, including the addition of WRT's Pierre Arnaud as the team director of Audi Team Hitotsuyama.

The 2015 Super GT season will get underway at Okayama from 4-5 April.

Photo credit: Audi Communications - Motorsport

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

TSS: B-Quik Racing and Kiks continue with Audi R8 LMS in Thailand for 2015

By Johan Laubscher

B-Quik Racing will be continuing to run one Audi R8 LMS entry as part of its multi-car line-up in the Thailand Super Series this year. The team acquired an ex-Audi R8 LMS Cup vehicle last year and fielded it in the 2014 Thailand Super Series with Henk J. Kiks behind the wheel.

Kiks performed well in the Audi R8 LMS and showed very strong pace within the Super Car Class 2-GTM category. He is expected to build on the strengths of 2014, as he and the team moves into the new season.

The 2015 Thailand Super Series will get underway at the Chang International Circuit from 8-10 May.

Photo credit: B-Quik Racing

GT Open: Team Novadriver testing Audi R8 LMS ultra at Monteblanco

By Johan Laubscher

Team Novadriver was out testing the #58 Audi R8 LMS ultra at the Monteblanco circuit in Spain this week. It was the team's first shakedown test to check all of the systems following the rebuild of the car during the winter.

The Portuguese Audi Sport customer racing team fielded this #58 Audi R8 LMS ultra in the 2014 International GT Open with the driver paring of Cesar Campanico and Aditya Patel.

Team Novadriver has not yet announced their plans for 2015, but they are expected to do so during the coming weeks.

Photo credit: Team Novadriver

Monday, February 23, 2015

NPCC: Engen Xtreme’s Stephen finishes tops at Zwartkops

Engen Motorsport Press Release

Engen Xtreme’s Michael Stephen, driving an Audi S4 Quattro, kicked off his bid to reclaim the National Production Car Championship by coming out tops in Round One of the 2015 season at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday.

The three-time former champion, who was beaten to the title by Johan Fourie in 2014, qualified on pole in Race One on Saturday and was hoping to turn it on from the get-go.

“I was just not able to beat the Chev (Michael van Rooyen) across the line in Race One, so finished second. In Race Two it was a strategic decision to finish in a position to provide a good grid start for the final race of the day, rather than simply focusing on a higher placing in the second race,” said Stephen afterwards.

Starting Race Three on the front of the grid, Stephen soon had the rest of the field in his rear-view mirror. “I managed to overtake Hennie (Groenwald) in the first lap and then just had to defend against Gennaro (Bonafede) until the finish to take the win in the third race – and first overall for the day.”

New rules for the 2015 season have seen the production car field equalised as far as possible to keep competition between the various teams as close as possible, which sees the Audi S4 Quattro competitors of the Engen Xtreme team relying on their Quattro system to give them an edge in the corners while they lose in terms of straight line power to the front wheel drive cars.

“It can't get any better as a start to the season,” added Stephen. “The racing was very good, I had a hard tussle in each of the races and the series had three different winners on the day.”

For Stephen’s Engen Xtreme teammate Simon Moss (38), the first round of the season proved a mixed bag of results.

“I was on pace this weekend, I finished fifth, fourth and sixth in each of the races today,” says Moss. “In the last lap of Race Three I had to make an all-or-nothing decision to fight off Gary (Formato). I decided to risk it and went around the outside, hit something in the outfield and launched the car. It didn't work out.”

Unfortunately for Moss a fairly consistent race weekend saw the final race result push him down the order, potentially costing him one or two places in the overall standings. “I remain upbeat, however, with good pace at the start of the season and having completed three demanding races in the first round.”

The Engen Xtreme team will return to Zwartkops Raceway during the 2015 season, making the experience and race data collected during Round One a valuable asset which will come into play later this year. For Stephen and Moss the plan is continued pressure on the production car field while amassing as many points as possible to ensure they are in a commanding position in the standings come the crucial final rounds of the year.

Round Two of the National Production Car Championship will see the Engen Xtreme team in competition at Killarney in Cape Town on Saturday, 11 April. This will be the first of three coastal rounds of the championship that will have the team racing in both Port Elizabeth and East London before returning inland.

Photo credit:

Pirelli World Challenge: New livery for GMG Racing's Alex Welch Audi R8 LMS ultra

GMG Racing tested the Audi R8 LMS ultra at the Circuit of the Americas preparing the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge season.

The car is driven by team's regular Alex Welch, who will compete within the GT-A class in the demanding North American sportscar series.

Here is a look at Alex Welch 2015 Audi R8 LMS ultra livery.

Photo credit: GMG Racing

FARA: Overall top ten for ANSA Motorsports Audi R8 LMS entries at the Homestead 200

By Johan Laubscher

It was the opening round of the 2015 FARA (Formula & Automobile Racing Association) season this past weekend. The series hosted the Homestead 200 at Miami Speedway, featuring sprint races and a two-hour endurance race.

ANSA Motorsports was out in force with a fleet of customer race cars, including three Audi R8 LMS entries in the MP-1a class. The team's #4 and #33 Audi R8 LMS cars had been seen on track during 2014 and these were joined by the #22 Audi R8 LMS this weekend, the ex-JB Motorsport R8 LMS from Sweden having its debut race weekend in North America.

Eric Johnson was behind the wheel of the #4 Audi R8 LMS (ex-MTM Motorsport). John Herlihy drove the blue/black #33 Audi R8 LMS. The new addition, the #22 Audi R8 LMS, was driven by Chris Fountas and Angel Benitez.

Qualifying saw Fountas and Benitez netting sixth place overall for their debut with the R8 LMS. Eric Johnson qualified nineteenth and John Herlihy twenty-fourth.

Four sprint races were held, two each on Saturday and Sunday. The duo of Fountas and Benitez finished eleventh and fifth on Saturday and nineteenth during the second race on Sunday. Neither of ANSA's other Audi R8 LMS cars competed on Sunday, but Johnson finished twelfth during race one and Herlihy was fifteenth and sixteenth on Saturday.

The highlight of the weekend was the Homestead 200 held on Sunday afternoon. The ANSA Motorsports Audi R8 LMS squad performed well and all three of the entries finished within the overall top eleven cars.

John Herlihy led the Audi charge by finishing eighth overall, fourth in the MP-1a class. Their teammates in the #22 Audi R8 LMS, Chris Fountas and Angel Benitez, finished tenth overall, ahead of Eric Johnson in the #4 Audi R8 LMS who crossed the line in eleventh. This ensured two Audi R8 LMS entries in the overall top ten and positions four through six in class.

The next round of the FARA series will be the Spring Challenge from 18-19 April.

Photo credit: 
Angel Benitez

Pirelli World Challenge: Audi teams testing Audi R8 LMS ultra cars at COTA

By Johan Laubscher

A number of Pirelli World Challenge teams were testing at the Circuit of The Americas this weekend. GMG Racing and JCR Motorsports were amongst the teams present at COTA.

GMG Racing were running two of its 2015 entries, Alex Welch in the #76 Audi R8 LMS ultra and Alec Udell in the new Porsche GT-Cup. This was the first time that Welch's new livery was seen in full.

JCR Motorsports fielded their #99 Audi R8 LMS ultra at the test days, also sporting a new sliver livery for Jeff Courtney.

The 2015 Pirelli World Challenge will be getting underway at the Circuit of The Americas from 6-8 March.