Sunday, June 23, 2013

Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (22-23/06/2013)

By Johan Laubscher

1. The Weekend

Focussing on the weekend of 22 - 23 June 2013

2. The Events

  •           Le Mans 24 Hours
  •           VLN
  •           Superstars
  •           Superstars GT Sprint
  •           Brazil GT
  •           Option Cup
  •           NSW
  •           BTCC
  •           Austrian Hillclimb

2.1. Le Mans 24 Hours

The Le Mans 24 Hours, the showpiece of the season, was held this weekend. It was the ninetieth anniversary of the great French endurance classic. Audi Sport Team Joest entered three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars. They continued on from the Test Day and dominated all the sessions during the week, qualifying 1-2-3 with the #2 Audi on pole. The race got underway in changeable conditions and the Toyotas displayed very good pace, moving up to second and third, before a massive crash for an Aston Martin. Tragically the news emerged that Allan Simonsen, the Aston driver, had passed away due to his injuries. He was a very popular driver who will be sorely missed by everyone: R.I.P. Allan Simonsen. The race would become one of changeable weather and many hours behind the safety car. The #1 Audi lead early but suffered crippling mechanical problems which dropped them back, they did manage to recover to fifth overall by the finish. The #3 Audi also faced problems, including a puncture which cost them two laps. This left the #2 Audi out in front being chased by two Toyotas. The lap lead remained constant for most of the race. The #3 Audi was eventually able to catch the third placed Toyota, before the Toyota suffered an accident in the Porsche Curves. Ultimately, despite changeable weather in the last two hours, the one lap lead was maintained and the #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Kristensen / McNish / Duval came home to win Audi's twelfth overall Le Mans victory, followed by the #8 Toyota in second and the #3 Audi in third. 

2.2. VLN

The first VLN round following the Nürburgring 24 Hours was held this weekend. A total of ten Audis were entered, which included three Audi R8 LMS ultra cars. The race was stopped early due to a fatality. Wolf Silvester sadly passed away whilst driving an Opel in the event. The race was classified with the victory going to the #15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra with drivers Frank Stippler, Ferdinand Stuck and Johannes Stuck - however the result does become rather academic given the tragic events which had occurred. R.I.P. Wolf Silvester.    

2.3. Superstars

The Superstars headed to Zolder this weekend for round four of the championship. Audi Sport Italia arrived full of confidence, expecting the tighter Belgian track to suit their RS 5 quattro race cars. The team was joined by local Audi racing star, Laurens Vanthoor, in the silver #46 car. Vanthoor impressed during the free practice sessions. He was unable to take part in qualifying but his teammate and Audi Sport Italia regular, Gianni Morbidelli, was able to take pole position for the races on Sunday. During race one Morbidelli dominated at the front whilst Vanthoor came from behind and stormed through the field to finish second, completing an Audi Sport Italia 1-2. Race two saw a reverse grid and Vanthoor once again stormed through the field, this time taking the lead and dominating the race. Eventually Morbidelli was able to move up into the lead followed by Vanthoor, ensuring another Audi 1-2 finish.  

2.4. Superstars GT Sprint

The Superstars GT Sprint was also held alongside the Superstars at Zolder. The MTM Audi R8 LMS was at the event, driven by Thomas Schöffler and Laurens Vanthoor. They showed great pace and qualified on pole for race one and second for race two. They finished second in both of the races.

2.5. Brazilian GT

Round two of the Brazilian GT was held at Curitiba. The Ebrahim Motors Audi R8 LMS ultra (2012 spec) was sporting a new red/silver/white Audi driving experience livery. They were very fast this weekend and finished second during the first race. The Ebrahim pairing improved even further during race two when they claimed their first race victory of the season.

2.6. Option Cup

Absolute Racing entered a single Audi R8 LMS in the Option Cup. The series is based in Taiwan and this event was hosted at the Penbay International Circuit. The R8 LMS was driven by Jeffrey Lee and competed in the GT Challenge. He qualified on pole position.

2.7. NSW

Melbourne Performance Centre was at Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend, taking part in the third NSW Motor Race Championship round. Two MPC Audi cars were entered in the Production Sports Car category: the R8 LMS ultra of Rod Salmon and the R8 LMS of Dean Koustoumidis. This was the first weekend that the Koustoumidis Equity-One Motorsport R8 LMS was run by MPC, following a switch from Minda Motorsport. They used this weekend as preparation for the next Australian GT round, which will be held at SMP. The two Audis qualified 1-2 with Salmon on Pole. The Audi 1-2 was maintained during the first two races, with Rod Salmon taking victory in races one and three, and Koustoumidis winning race two.

2.8. BTCC

Croft hosted the fifth meeting of the British Touring Car Championship this weekend. Rob Austin Racing and their two Audi A4 NGTC cars were at the event and showed good initial pace during practice. However they qualified in the lower half of the top twenty. The first race saw both Audis improving as Austin got up to thirteenth and Bratt fifteenth. Race two yielded similar results as Austin finished in fourteenth and Bratt eighteenth. During the third and final race of the day Rob Austin was able to finish in eleventh. 

2.9. Austrian Hillclimb

The Seggauberg Hillclimb was held in Austria this weekend. The Marko Racing Audi A4 STW was entered in the event, and also appeared on the event poster.

2.10. Other Audi News

A set of demo laps were held before the start of the Le Mans 24 Hours. The laps included a procession of former race winning cars, including two Audi race cars. The 2006 race winning Audi R10 TDI was driven by Frank Biela and the 2012 winning R18 e-tron quattro was driven by Dindo Capello.

A new Audi Sport customer racing team has committed to the GRAND-AM Rolex Series. Fall-Line Motorsports will enter an Audi R8 GRAND-AM in the remainder of the season. They will debut their car at Watkins Glen next weekend.  

Audi Sport customer racing will be fielding an Audi R8 GRAND-AM at Watkins Glen next weekend. The car will be driven by Filipe Albuquerque and Edoardo Mortara. They were both part of the Daytona 24 Hours driving crew in the victorious Alex Job Racing Audi R8 GRAND-AM. The endurance events, such as The Six Hours of the Glen, Daytona 24 Hours and the three hour race at Indianapolis, form part of the North American Endurance Championship. The Audi Sport customer racing entry with Mortara and Albuquerque will be entered at Watkins Glen and Indianapolis, as they will fight for the title.

Franky Cheng Congfu from China will be debuting in the next round of the Audi R8 LMS Cup held in Ordos. He has already competed for Absolute Racing in the GT Asia series earlier this year.

Volkswagen Motorsport WRC driver, Jari-Matti Latvala, will be driving an Audi quattro rally car at the 2013 Estonia Rally. The event will take place from 19-20 July.

Terry Moss Racing in South Africa has launched a new team website and a new team logo. They field two Audi S4 race cars in the South African Bridgestone Production Car Championship, and they are the reigning 2011 and 2012 champions with lead driver Michael Stephen.

3. Next Weekend’s events (29-30/06/2013)

  •           Grand Am
  •           Blancpain Endurance Series
  •           V de V
  •           MSS
  •           SVRA
  •           GT Asia
  •           RCN
  •           Swedish GT
  •           Portuguese GT
  •           International Supercars
  •           French Rallycross
  •           Slovakia Cup

All photos are hosted at their respective website which are listed within the Weekend Round Up