By Johan Laubscher
1. The Weekend
Focussing this week on the weekend of 4 - 5 May 2013
2. The Events
- FIA WEC
- Audi R8 LMS cup
- SA Production Cars
- Italian GT
- Swedish GT
- British GT
- Brazilian GT
2.1. FIA WEC
The Six Hours of Spa was the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The headlines for the weekend featured the variety of cars entered by Audi and Toyota. Each entered one low downforce Le Mans specification car. The #3 Audi was the low downforce “long-tail”, whereas the #1 and #2 Audis were in the more suited high downforce specification. The Audis dominated the practice and qualifying sessions with a string of 1-2-3 results. The race itself saw a good battle between Audi and Toyota, alternating the lead on pitstops for the first four hours. The battle continued until the #7 Toyota unfortunately retired due to technical problems. In the end the race finished as an Audi 1-2-3, with the cars finishing in their number order of Audi #1 ahead of #2 and #3.
The DTM season got underway at Hockenheim. The series has had a number of changes, most notably the new DRS and option tires. The Audi teams performed well during the sessions and pole position went to Timo Scheider in his RS 5 DTM, in what was a chaotic and weather affected qualifying session. The race saw Timo lead at the start, but many issues and retirements dropped the Audis down the field. Ultimately the top placed Audi was Scheider who finished in sixth, after a very good recovery drive.
2.3. Audi R8 LMS Cup
The second season of the Audi R8 LMS Cup held its first round of the year this weekend. The event took place at Zhuhai in China. Twenty Audi R8 LMS cars are taking part in the championship this year. Alex Yoong and Andre Couto were the race winners at this round.
2.4. SA Production Cars
The South African Bridgestone Production Cars Championship were at Zwartkops this weekend, in Pretoria, South Africa. The four regular Audi S4 entries were present at the event, which was dominated by the BMW team. Despite the BMW domination, the second race victory went to the reigning champion, Michael Stephen, in his Terry Moss Racing Audi S4. Stephen remains the clear leader in the championship points standings.
2.5. Italian GT
The Italian GT got their season underway at Misano. Audi Sport Italia are once again entering a two-car team this year. Two Audi R8 LMS ultra cars, both in 2013 specification. A difficult qualifying session was followed by an unlucky race with the cars finishing in sixth and eighth, after one start from the back of the gird and the other suffered a penalty. The second race was another hard race for the team, finishing seventh and ninth.
2.6. Swedish GT
Round one of the Swedish GT was held at Knutstorp, alongside the new-look STCC. JB Motorsport have entered their Audi R8 LMS and performed very well this weekend. A good tire strategy saw the team claim victory on the very last lap of the race.
2.7. British GT
The British GT held round two of the championship over the long holiday weekend, running from Sunday until Monday. Three Audi teams were entered at Rockingham, an Audi R8 LMS from Blendini Motorsport, a 2012 Audi R8 LMS ultra from United Autosports and a 2013 Audi R8 LMS ultra from M-sport.
2.8. Brazilian GT
The streets of Sao Paulo hosted the first round of the Brazilian GT Championship. Ebrahim Motors have continued to enter their Audi R8 LMS ultra. This year they will receive support from Audi Brazil, competing in a red/silver Audi Top Service livery. The team were very fast during all of the sessions and qualified very well, consistently within the top four. During the two races they were very competitive and finished second in both races, collecting valuable points.
Thruxton is the fastest circuit in Britain, and hosted the third round of the British Touring Car Championship. Rob Austin Racing have been plagued by low top speed performance this year. It was evident at Donginton, but even more so at Thruxton. The team struggled for pace and qualified in the lower half of the field. The three races on the day yielded similar results for the team and their Audi A4s, as they were confined to the rear of the grid.
Round two of the RCN took place at the Nürburgring this weekend. Five Audi cars took part in the series which is similar to the VLN, including the TT RS (SP4T) of Rotek Racing.
Round five of the Japanese European Touring Car Challenge (ETCC) was held at Fuji Speedway this weekend. K's Frontier (Team KRM) has acquired the ex-GAINER Audi R8 LMS ultra and took part in the ETCC Super Cars Battle, as a shakedown of their new car. The 2012 specification Audi R8 LMS ultra was seen in the 2012 Japanese Super GT, when it was entered by GAINER DIXCEL. K's Frontier entered the #32 R8 LMS ultra with Taiyo Iida as the driver. They qualified third and won the race. The long-time Porsche team has mentioned that they are evaluating the R8 LMS ultra and that it may be a possible race vehicle for them in 2014, for the Super Taikyu Endurance Series.
2.12. Other Audi News
Iron Man 3 was released internationally this week. Audi Sport had previously announced that Adrien Tambay would be racing at Hockenheim with an Iron Man 3 livery, round one of the DTM. The theme was further continued this weekend as Tambay and his crew had special Iron Man themed suits.
Belgian Audi Club Team WRT are planning to compete at round three of the French GT-Tour. The third round of the series will be at Spa and WRT are planning to enter two cars, as part of their preparation for the Spa 24 Hours this year.
The Audi R8 LMS Cup cars have been updated for the 2013 season. Last year sixteen cars took part in the first season of the series and a total of twenty cars are competing in 2013. The cars are all in the original R8 LMS specification, but they have received a few updates this year. The first visual addition is that of the front dive-planes / double side splitters on the nose of the cars, this greatly aids downforce. The second major update has been the installation of new engine mapping, which has improved the performance, especially under acceleration.
Audi R8 LMS Cup website
The Audi R8 LMS Cup has begun streaming the races live on the internet, featured on the official website of the series. It is a great addition for Audi fans worldwide, as this one-make Audi championship, with twenty R8 LMS cars, can now be watched live online.
Audi R8 LMS Cup website
3. Next Weekend’s events (11-12/05/2013)
- ADAC GT Masters
- Spanish GT
- GT Asia
All photos are hosted at their respective website which are listed within the Weekend Round Up