Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Interview: Laurens Vanthoor talks about the Spa 24 Hours and the new Audi R8 LMS

By Antoni Coppi

Laurens Vanthoor will compete in the demanding Spa 24 Hours endurane race driving a new Audi R8 LMS from Audi Sport Team WRT. The 2014 Blancpain GT Series champion won the event last year and will be joined by René Rast and Markus Winkelhock.

We had a quick chat with Laurens Vanthoor at the Spa 24 Hours test day about the upcoming Belgian classic and more.

What are your expectations for the Spa 24 Hours?

The new car already won at the Nürburgring 24 Hours but we know it's not going to be easy. The target will be of course to win the race again or at least secure a podium.

Now we have to work more on the Pirelli tires.

How different is the new Audi R8 LMS compared to the Audi R8 LMS ultra?

For us drivers the new car is better, quicker and has a better fuel efficiency. Everything has been improved (TC, ABS...) compared to the seven-year old first generation model.

That said, it won't be that obvious to see very big improvements on track. After all GT3 racing is all about Balance of Performance.

Spa 24 Hours vs Nürburgring 24 Hours, which one is harder?

I would say the Nürburgring 24 Hours. Both races are very hard with intense traffic but the Nürburgring circuit is really challenging.

For me that endurance event has everything in order to be considered as the hardest race in the world.

Photo credit: Audi Media

Audi Sport TT Cup: Perfect weekend for Nicolaj Møller Madsen at the Norisring

By Tarek Ramchani

Nicolaj Møller Madsen had an amazing weekend at the Norisring. The Danish driver was simply the best in the second round of the Audi Sport TT Cup in the Nuremberg street circuit.

Strong performances in the qualifying session as well. Third fastest in race 1 qualifying and then fifth for the second one.

Nicolaj Møller Madsen clinched a podium in the opening race on Saturday with difficult weather and track conditions. On Sunday he crossed the finish line victrious after great battles with Jan Kisiel.

Two strong race results enough to take the overall lead in the drivers' championship point standing. Nicolaj Møller Madsen has now a total of 85 points, 20 more than his closest rival Jan Kisiel.

The next round in the Audi Sport TT Cup will be held at the beautiful Red Bull Ring, August 1st and 2nd. Nicolaj Møller Madsen will be the man to beat at the challenging Austrian track.

Photo credit: Audi Media

Blancpain Sprint Series: Six Audis for the Moscow Raceway round

By Tarek Ramchani

The Blancpain Sprint Series is moving to Eastren Europe this weekend. The Moscow Raceway will host the fourth round of the 2015 season.

A total of eighteen GT3 race cars will enter the Russian event including six Audi R8 LMS utlras coming from three different teams.

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT will field four Audi R8 LMS ultras. The #1 car will be driven by series points leaders Laurens Vanthoor and Robin Frijns who won four straight races in BSS. The #2 car will be shared by Christopher Mies and Enzo Ide. The #3 Audi will have Stéphane Ortelli and Stéphane Richelmi behind the wheel. The #4 R8 LMS ultra will be driven by Frank Stippler and James Nash.

Phoenix Racing will be in Moscow with a single car effort. Markus Winkelhock and Niki Mayr-Melnhof will be sharing the #6 Audi R8 LMS ultra.

ISR Racing from the Czech Republic will enter the event with one Audi R8 LMS ultra. The #75 car will be driven by Marco Bonanomi and Filip Salaquarda.

Moscow Raceway Entry List

Action at the Moscow Raceway will start on Friday with two practice sessions. The qualifying session, the qualifying race and the main race will be held on Saturday.

Photo credit: Blancpain GT Series

Audi R8 LMS Cup: B-Quik Racing heading for triple header in Taiwan

B-Quik Racing Press Release

After a seven week break Audi’s pan-Asian ‘R8 Cup’ series resumes action at Penbay International Circuit this coming weekend (4-5 July) and for driver Daniel Bilski and the B-Quik team, as well as for the ‘one make’ championship itself, it will mark a first ever visit to the Taiwanese racetrack.

With two rounds and four races of the 2015 season completed, held at Zhuhai, China, in March, and Yeongam, Korea, in May, B-Quik Racing has enjoyed a very promising start to its first ever campaign in the ‘R8 Cup’.

Daniel, racing in the hotly competitive Amateur Cup (AM) already has a win to his name and is handily placed in the championship points’ standings. Current classification leader, Ashraf Dewal, has 55 points, while Daniel is in second place on 46 points. He also has a useful gap over the driver behind him, Jacky Yeung, who has 32 points.

The visit to Penbay will mark the halfway point of the ‘R8 Cup’ season so the stakes are starting to climb. The track, located near Donggang in Taiwan’s Pingtung Country on the southern part of the island, only opened for racing in 2011 and is designed to FIA Grade 2 standard. The circuit is 3.527 km long with 16 turns.

This will be the one make series’ first visit to Penbay so that means a lot of the drivers in action this coming weekend will have to get up to speed with the track and that scenario also applies to Daniel. So, just as was the case during the last round of the R8 Cup at Yeongam, it will be a second consecutive new circuit for the Australian to learn from scratch and to prepare himself he's been spending time in the simulator.

There will be an extra twist in the tale in Taiwan though as this coming weekend will see the only ‘triple header’ of the R8 Cup season. That means the bumper helping of AM Drivers’ championship points on offer are going to be crucial to everyone making a serious challenge for the title. It’s certainly an event that could make or break title hopes, even if it’s still only the halfway stage in the championship.

The ‘extra’ race is being added to the programme to compensate for the second race of the year (in Zhuhai), which had covered less than 50% of the planned distance when red flags were waved. While the race result officially stood, championship points couldn’t be awarded due to the distance covered at that point and this weekend’s additional race is being squeezed in as a substitute.

However Daniel and the B-Quik team are quietly confident that they can continue to maintain the positive momentum they have enjoyed so far this season and are look forward to taking full advantage of the ‘triple header’, keep firmly focused on collecting as many championship points as possible, and continue to mount a serious push for the AM title.

Qualifying and the first race of the weekend, which has a 1615 start time (all times are local), will take place on Saturday 4 July while the second and third races will start at 0945 and 1400, respectively, the following day, Sunday 5 July.

Daniel Bilski: “After the great results we achieved in Korea, I’m really looking forward to the triple-race weekend in Taiwan. The pressure is definitely on with the points’ gaps in the championship standings being very tight. It shows how tough this championship is and with the level of talent on the grid, I’m sure the racing will be super-close. It will be very important to score consistent points in all three races in Taiwan and I’m looking forward to pushing my pace up a notch. It will be my first time at the Penbay circuit, so I’ve been spending as much time as I can in the Sideways Driving Club Simulator in Hong Kong to learn the track, which looks very challenging, so it’s going to be tough. It appears to be very tight and overtaking will not be easy but I’m confident the whole B-Quik Racing team will do everything possible to push for maximum points on the weekend."

Photo credit: B-Quik Racing

Audi titles in the STCC - Swedish Touring Car Championship

By Tarek Ramchani

The Audi brand has a very successful history in the Swedish Touring Car Championship or simply STCC.

The Four Rings clinched no less than five outright drivers' titles, five teams' titles and three independent drivers' titles. Audi won in two different eras, first in Super Touring and then in Super 2000.

It all started in 1999 and the golden Super Touring era with the legendary Audi A4 STW, the car that dominated all over Europe and beyond.

The first title came with none other than Mattias Ekström. Eki clinched the overall title in the very last round at Mantorp Park that year driving a factory backed Audi A4 STW from Kristoffersson Motorsport (KMS).

Two years later in 2001 it was the turn of Roberto Colciago. The Italian driver took the championship title driving once again an Audi A4 STW from Kristoffersson Motorsport.

Roberto Colciago was able to defend his title in 2002, driving again for Kristoffersson Motorsport. That was the final year in official competition for the all conquering Audi A4 STW. The Super Touring era ended in the STCC.

New rules and new era in 2003, the Super Touring cars gone, the STCC opted for the new Super 2000 regulation which had a successful launch in the FIA European Touring Car Championship (ETCC).

Audi was back in the STCC with a brand new car, the Audi A4 S2000 based on the B6 road going model. The cars were entered once again by Kristoffersson Motorsport and proved to be successful right from the start. Fredrik Ekblom gave Audi a fourth title in five years.

In 2005 Audi replaced the Audi A4 S2000 B6 by the new Audi A4 S2000 B7. Audi had a strong season that year but didn't win the title but all was set for a successful 2006 campaign.

Thed Björk driving for Kristoffersson Motorsport gave Audi a fifth drivers' title in the STCC. That was the last title for Audi in the Scandinavian based Touring Car Series.

Photo credit: STCC

Audi Sport TT Cup: Double podium for Doreen Seidel at the Norisring

By Tarek Ramchani

Doreen Seidel joined the the Audi Sport TT Cup field as a special guest star at the Norisring. The 2008 German Playmate of the year was behind the wheel of the #99 Audi TT racer.

A former competitor in the Volkswagen Sirocco R-Cup, Doreen Seidel told us before the Norisring race weekend that she is targeting strong performances in the "Monaco of DTM". Our interview with Doreen Seidel

Doreen Seidel finished both Audi Sport TT Cup races and took the guests podium twice. In the first race - a very wet one - she ended in ninteenth place and third among the guest starters. In the second race she was seventeenth overall and again third best guest driver.

Doreen Seidel was happy at the end of the rainy race 1: "The race was better than I expected to be. It was really difficult out there in the rain and I'm happy to finish P3 of the guest starters"

She was again satisfied with the second podium in Sunday's race 2 but not with her racing pace: "Finished on the podium again, but I'm still not happy about the pace"

Photo credit: Audi Media

Monday, June 29, 2015

DTM: Mattias Ekström delighted with Norisring performance

By Tarek Ramchani

Mattias Ekström had a phenomenal DTM race 2 at the Norisring. The Audi ace had a breathtaking battle with the 2012 champion Bruno Spengler for the final spot on the podium.

Fans on site and the thousands of people watching across the world enjoyed one of the greatest Touring Car battles in recent years. Eki with a heavier Audi RS 5 DTM resisted very well to the Bruno Spengler's assaults with a lighter and competitve BMW M4 DTM.

The battle lasted until two laps to go. Mattias Ekström with degraded tires was forced to give up position three to the Canadian driver. Eki crossed the finish line fourth but was delighted with his performance and enjoyed a hard but fair battle with Bruno Spengler.

“The second race was a thriller. The battle for position three was fun. Unfortunately, my tires degraded three or four laps before the end under the high weight. That’s why I couldn’t defend my advantage anymore.”

“I knew my limit, made room for Bruno Spengler, and he managed a good maneuver. He was always very fair to me in the past too, so I let him have this chance. He deserves the trophy.”

“I’m not disappointed by the race result at all, because you have to remember how great our disadvantage was in terms of weight. It’s been one of the best races in my career. The race was impeccable and my team found a good set-up.”

The next race for Mattias Ekström in the DTM will be at Zandvoort next month. A place where Eki always performed very well.

Photo credit: Audi Media

BTCC: Mixed fortunes for RAR duo Austin & Abbott in Croft's races‏

Rob Austin Racing Press Release

Rob Austin Racing achieved three points finishes and a best result of seventh in Sunday’s Dunlop British Touring Car Championship races at Croft but the Worcestershire team will be grateful for the mid-season break after both its Exocet AlcoSense Audis – driven by Rob Austin and Hunter Abbott – again sustained considerable damage thanks to some rough on-track tactics from rivals.

After qualifying a season’s best seventh fastest on Saturday Rob chose race one of three to run Dunlop’s soft compound tyre. While its performance – as expected on the abrasive Croft track surface – eventually fell away it was a gamble that did pay dividends as it enabled him to set the race’s seventh fastest lap time early on to give him seventh on the starting grid for race two.

Holding on to the leading train of cars he held this position to the finish – briefly enjoying a fine battle with Gordon Shedden’s Honda for sixth – and for race three he would again start seventh.

“That’s when it all went wrong,” said Rob. “I felt comfortable in that position early on and knew a lot of the others now had to run the soft tyre. The race I felt was going to come to us but then, for the second meeting in a row, people simply started driving into my car.

“The second hit up the back sent me into another car so we had to retire with heavy front and rear-end damage. It’s utterly needless. I had a perfectly good hard but fair battle with Shedden – really enjoyable in fact – but then you get some drivers who just don’t seem to know how to do it. Not impressed really as you expect better at this level.”

Hunter’s car also suffered considerable rear-end damage in race three when he was nursing his soft compound tyres. “It’s frustrating because it happened right near the end when I was on for a point," said Hunter. "Instead that point went to the driver who smashed into the back of me and then very nearly sent me into the barriers.

“But there are some positives to take from the weekend. OK, race one I had a typical touring car rub with another driver and came off second best with a quick spin but still fought back to only just finish just outside the points . More importantly I set the ninth fastest lap time to give me P9 for the race two grid – my best starting position in the BTCC.

“Race two was very hard fought with a group of us together. Andrew Jordan managed to squeeze past me which cost me momentum and a couple more were able to come by as well. Twelfth place in the end was still promising but without that one moment I felt I could have had P7. Again the pace was good.”

Both RAR Audis will now be transported back to base in Pershore where they will undergo full rebuilds and further developments before the BTCC season resumes with its next three races at Snetterton, Norfolk on the weekend of Sat 8/Sun 9 August.

Photo credit: Rob Austin Racing

VIDEO: Highlights of the two Audi Sport TT Cup races at the Norisring

You missed the two Audi Sport TT Cup races at the Norisring live? Don't worry, here are two great video highlights of both races.

Read our race 1 report: Shaun Thong wins Norisring race 1
Read our race 2 report: Nicolaj Møller Madsen wins a thrilling Norisring race 2

Race 1 Highlights

Race 2 Highlights

Photo credit: Audi Media

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Pirelli World Challenge: Mike Skeen narrowly missed the podium in Road America race 3

By Tarek Ramchani

Mike Skeen had another strong race at Road America. The Audi driver took a strong fourth place overall in the third and final Pirelli World Challenge race at the famous Elkhart Lake circuit.

Behind the wheel of the #2 Audi R8 LMS from CRP Racing, Mike Skeen was among the strongest in the demanding GT field. He battled well for the top spots and narrowly missed the podium.

Another driver who performed well in the Road America third race was James Sofronas. The GMG Racing team owner finished the in eleventh place overall driving the #14 Audi R8 LMS ultra.

Jeff Courtney was sixteenth with the #99 Audi R8 LMS ultra from his own team JCR Motorsports.

Three Audis did not finish the race. Drew Regitz (#24 Audi) and Walt Bowlin (#30 Audi) were taken out right after the start. The it was the turn of Alex Welch, his #76 Audi R8 LMS ultra from GMG Racing went off the track and caught fire. Fortunately, Alex Welch was unharmed.

Race victory went to James Davison with a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3. Ryan Dalziel was second with a Porsche 997 GT3 R. Olivier Beretta was third driving a Ferrari 458 GT3.

Photo credit: Pirelli World Challenge

TUSC: Paul Miller Racing Audi takes third at the 6 Hours of the Glen

By Tarek Ramchani

The Paul Miller Racing Audi team has clinched a great podium result at the 6 Hours of the Glen, one of the four major races in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

The #48 Audi R8 LMS shared by Christopher Haase, Dion von Moltke and Bryce Miller started the race from pole position.

The 6-hour race was highlighted by the bad weather and difficult track conditions. Many cars went off the track including in the upper Prototype class. In the closing stages of the race the lone Audi entry in the event was running fourth within the GT Daytona class.

With less than 10 minutes to go, one the Porsche GT Americas went of the track and that allowed the Paul Miller Racing Audi to take thrid place and a GTD podium.

A great result for the North American Audi Sport customer racing team and big points for both Christopher Haase and Dion von Moltke in their battle for the GTD drivers' championship title

Photo credit:

DTM: Mattias Ekström narrowly missed the podium in Norisring race 2

By Tarek Ramchani

Mattias Ekström had a great and heroic DTM race 2 at the Norisring. The Audi ace narrowly missed the podium with a heavier Audi RS 5 DTM car, the only Audi driver inside the Top 10.

Mattias Ekström carrying the race retro livery on his Audi RS 5 DM had an amazing battle with pole sitter BMW's Bruno Spengler for the final spot on the podium. The Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline driver resisted very well to Bruno Spengler's assaults in the second half of the race.

Unfortunately he was forced to give up position three with two laps to go. Nevertheless it was a fantastic race from The Swedish ace, Eki showing once again he is one of the best drivers in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters.

Up ahead it was a 1-2 Mercedes-Benz victory with Robert Wickens ahead of team-mate Christian Vietoris.

Drama for Jamie Green who was running in ninth place but was forced to have a pit-stop in the closing stages of the race after a contact with the BMW of Maxime Martin. The DTM points leader lost a complete lap and ended the race in ninteenth place. However the Briton was able to keep his championship point lead.

All of the other Audi drivers were outside the Top 10. Adrien Tambay (Audi Sport Team Abt) was fourteenth. Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Team Abt) was fifteenth. Timo Scheider (Audi Sport Team Phoenix) was seventeenth. Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline) was eighteenth.

Two Audi drivers did not finish the race. First it was Mike Rockenfeller (Audi Sport Team Phoenix) at the start of the race then it was the turn of Nico Mueller (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) in the very closing stages.

The next round of the DTM will be held at the popular Circuit Park Zandvoort in the Netherlands, July 10th-12th.

Photo credit: Audi Media