Thursday, July 4, 2013

BES: Audi R8 LMS ultra topped the Spa 24 Hours Test Day

By Johan Laubscher

The Spa 24 Hours is the next big 24 Hour race on the schedule for 2013. It will be round four and the annual highlight of the Blancpain Endurance Series. Audi has won the race on the two previous occasions, with WRT in 2011 and Phoenix Racing in 2013. The preparations for the 2013 edition have started well with an Audi topping the time sheets at the Test Day.

Seven Audi R8 LMS ultra cars took part in the Test Day which was held on Wednesday, 3 July. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, Phoenix Racing, United Autosports and "Audi AG" (Audi Sport customer racing) all fielded cars on the day. 

Big news emerged during the morning when Belgian Audi Club Team WRT announced their plans for the Spa 24, which included the addition of a fourth WRT Audi R8 LMS ultra. The driver line-ups also received a shuffle as three more drivers were added to the WRT squad: André Lotterer, Mattias Ekström and Marcel Fässler. The official provisional Spa 24 Hours entry list was also released during the proceedings of Wednesday morning. The list includes nine Audi R8 LMS ultra cars, four from Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, two each from Phoenix Racing and Sainteloc Racing and one from United Autosports

The Test Day was split into two sessions, the first held from 09:00-12:00 and the second from 13:00-18:00, on a day which proved to be cold and wet. 

Three Audis placed within the top ten during the first morning session. The highest Audi was the #1 driven by Stéphane Ortelli, Laurens Vanthoor and Rene Rast, who finished with the fifth fastest time. The focus then switched to the second afternoon session which saw the fastest overall laps of the day. This time a total of four Audis were inside the top ten, including an Audi on top of the time sheets. The #13 WRT Audi R8 LMS ultra topped the day as the only car to drop below the 2 minute 37 second barrier, with a fastest time of 2:36.887.

All twelve of Belgian Audi Club Team WRT's drivers were at the Test Day. Mattias Ekström and Marcel Fässler may not have been listed on the Test Day entry list, but they were on site and behind the wheel of the WRT Audi R8 LMS ultra cars.

Test Day results for any 24 Hour race are often mostly academic, as testing is a far cry from an actual 24 hours race. A total of over seventy GT3 cars will be taking part in the race this year, including the top GT3 teams in Europe, so it will be very competitive. But it is great to see the Audi cars currently showing good pace at Spa. The race itself is scheduled for the weekend of 27-28 July. 

With no factory Audi teams at Spa this year, it will be up to the Audi Sport customer racing teams to defend the Audi race wins at the Spa 24, where it could possibly be three wins in a row this year.

The results from Test Day are available at RIS Time Keeping via the links below:
Test Day Session 1 Results
Test Day Session 2 Results

The seven Audi entries at the 2013 Spa 24 Hours Test Day:

Pro Cup: 

#1 - Belgian Audi Club Team WRT
 - Audi R8 LMS ultra (2013)
Stéphane Ortelli, Laurens Vanthoor, Rene Rast

#2 - Belgian Audi Club Team WRT - Audi R8 LMS ultra (2013)
Nikolaus Mayr-Melnhof, Matt Halliday, Rahel Frey

#6 - Phoenix Racing - Audi R8 LMS ultra (2013)
Oliver Jarvis, Christopher Haase, Harold Primat

#13* - Belgian Audi Club Team WRT - Audi R8 LMS ultra (2013)
Edward Sandström, Frank Stippler, Christopher Mies

#16 - Phoenix Racing - Audi R8 LMS ultra (2013)
Enzo Ide, Anthony Kumpen, Markus Winkelhock

#160 - AudiAG - Audi R8 LMS ultra (2013)
Andre Lotterer

Pro-Am Cup:

#125 - United Autosports - Audi R8 LMS ultra (2012)
Will Bratt, Alan Li, Jody Firth

*Mattias Ekström and Marcel Fässler were not listed on the original Test Day entry list, but they did take part. 

Photo credit: Fabian Wiedl