By Johan Laubscher
1. The Weekend
Focussing this week on the weekend of 16 - 17 March 2013
2. The Events
- Sebring 12 Hours
- SA Production Cars
- VLN Test
- BES Test Paul Ricard
- BES Test Monza
- SCCA U.S. Majors
- Super GT Test
- BTCC Test
- British GT Test
- Austrian Hillclimb
2.1. Sebring 12 Hours
The 61st Sebring 12 Hours took place this weekend. This was the last Sebring held under the current ALMS banner, as the new United SportsCar Racing series will be taking place in 2014. Audi arrived at the last LMP1 Sebring with a two-car team. Two Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars were entered, the #1 being 2012 spec and the #2 car being 2013 spec. The cars did very well during the practice sessions and topped qualifying by taking a 1-2. A mere 0.009 seconds separated the two Audis. The race saw the Audis lead from the front. The gap between the cars seesawed due to various incidents but the battle for the lead remained. In the end the #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Marcel Fässler, Benoît Tréluyer and Oliver Jarvis came home to take Audi's eleventh overall Sebring victory. More can be read HERE.
2.2. SA Production Cars
Killarney in Cape Towe hosted round 2 of the South African Bridgestone Production Cars. Michael Stephen arrived as the championship leader and all four Audi S4 cars were entered. The BMWs had the pace during practice / qualifying and dominated race one. Melvill Priest achieved the highest Audi finish in race one by finishing on the podium. The Audis of Sipuka and Priest achieved podium results in the second race. The third and longest race on the day saw a fantastic 1-2-3 Audi S4 result as Gennaro Bonafede took the win ahead of Stephen and Sipuka. Tschops Sipuka was the overall winner on the day in his S4.
Audi Motorsport in South Africa FB page
2.3. VLN Test
The VLN Championship had scheduled its annual test day for this weekend. However the bad weather conditions forced the organisers to cancel the test day in favour of safety. The first round of the championship is set to take place next weekend. Multiple Audi teams are expected to be at the first round.
Møller Bil Motorsport FB page
2.4. BES Test Paul Ricard
The official Blancpain Endurance Championship test days took place this week. Paul Ricard hosted the first two days of testing on Tuesday and Wednesday. Seven 2013 Audi R8 LMS ultra cars were present in France, among a total of over sixty GT3 entries. Three cars from Belgian Audi Club Team WRT and two each from Phoenix Racing and Saintéloc Racing.
Blancpain Endurance Series website
2.5. BES Test Monza
Many of the Blancpain Endurance Series teams traveled to Monza after the Paul Ricard tests. The Italian track hosted the second set of BES tests on Thursday and Friday. The BES entries shared the track with a WTCC test as well. The two Phoenix Racing cars and one WRT car took part in the Monza test days.
2.6. SCCA U.S. Majors
The SCCA U.S. Majors were at Road Atlanta this weekend. The Limitless Racing Audi R8 GRAND-AM of Dr Jason Lee was at the event. They qualified third for race three and held fourth during the race, until a last lap pass saw the Limitless Racing team take their first SCCA U.S. Majors podium finish.
Limitless Racing FB page
2.7. Super GT Test
The official Super GT test days were hosted at Okayama in Japan. Hitotsuyama Racing and äpr racing each had one Audi R8 LMS ultra at the test, with the former being a brand new 2013 car. The latest generation car proved to be very competitive at the tests.
Hitotsuyama Racing FB page
2.8. BTCC Test
Many of the BTCC teams were testing at Brand Hatch this week. One of the Rob Austin Racing Audi A4 NGTC cars also took part. The team entered the car of Will Bratt at the test, which featured a plain white body with newly updated aerodynamic components. The most notable change has been the addition of a new front bumper configuration. The team will be testing their second car next week.
Phil Laughton Photography FB page
2.9. British GT Test
Phil Laughton Photography FB page
2.9. British GT Test
The British GT Championship held a test day at Rockingham this week. Three Audi teams were present at the test. M-Sport Racing and United Autosports each had one Audi R8 LMS ultra car on site. A third older Audi R8 LMS was also entered by Blendini Motorsport.
2.10. Austrian Hillclimb
The Austrian Hillclimb Championship held the Bergrallye Lödersdorf this weekend. The Audi A4 STW of Andreas Marko and an Audi S2 were at the event.
race-action.com FB page
2.11. Other Audi News
Audi Sport had a very special display on site at Sebring. A number of Audi LMP race cars were on display, representing each type of Audi Le Mans Prototype which has won at Sebring. An Audi R8 LMP, Audi R10 TDI, Audi R15 TDI and an Audi R18 TDI were on display.
Audi Sport Media
The Moller Bil Motorsport TT RS was revealed this week. The team have been working very hard on their new car since it arrived a few weeks ago. They will be competing in the VLN Championship, running in the SP3T class.
M-Sport was spotted testing at Oulton Park this week. The first images of the car have confirmed that the team has acquired a 2013 specification Audi R8 LMS ultra for the British GT Championship.
LMS Engineering was set to take part in the VLN this year. They had planned to compete in the SP3T class with the #1 Audi TT RS. However this is no longer the case as the team announced their withdrawal from the 2013 VLN season this week. Various parts supply issues surrounding their SP3T engine has prompted the team's very difficult decision.
Team Novadriver from Portugal have been very busy testing their newly updated Audi R8 LMS ultra cars. They were at Estoril this week following their tests at Braga last week. Both of their cars were seen in naked carbon whilst they tested in Spain. One of the team's two cars is already in full 2013 specification and their second car is in an intermediate upgrade stage, only needing the new rear diffuser and wing to be fitted.
The upgrade to 2013 specification has been completed by Twin Busch Motorsport. The team have upgraded their older Audi R8 LMS. They will be competing in the VLN Championship.
Blendini Motorsport have acquired the Audi R8 LMS which was used by Wessex Vehicles in Britain during 2012. The Blendini team are planning to enter the R8 LMS in the Brtish GT Championship this year.
BR Racing FB page
3. Next Weekend’s events (23-24/03/2013)
- Kerrick Sports Sedans
- SCCA World Challenge
- V de V
- Portuguese GT
All photos are hosted at their respective website which are listed within the Weekend Round Up