Saturday, July 27, 2013

Rolex Series: Unfortunate end for the Audi R8 GRAND-AM in the NAEC

By Johan Laubscher

The Grand-Am Rolex Series headed to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend, for the Brickyard Grand Prix. This event was the eighth round of the Rolex Series, and more importantly, it was the third and final round of the North American Endurance Championship. Two Audi R8 GRAND-AM teams were again entered in the GT class for this event.

The North American Endurance Championship consists of the three endurance races within the Rolex Series, namely: The Daytona 24 Hours, 6 Hours of the Glen, and the Brickyard Grand Prix (3 Hours). The Alex Job Racing Audi R8 GRAND-AM won the Daytona 24 Hours in January, driven by Filipe Albuquerque, Oliver Jarvis, Edoardo Mortara and Dion von Moltke. This resulted in Audi drivers leading the NAEC standings. Thus a factory Audi R8 GRAND-AM was entered for the six hour event at Watkins Glen, entered under the name of Audi Sport customer racing, run by quattro GmbH and Kettler Motor Werks. The #24 factory Audi was driven by Filipe Albuquerque, Edoardo Mortara and Dion von Moltke, whilst Oliver Jarvis was taking part in the Blancpain Endurance Series that weekend. Watkins Glen also saw the debut of another new Audi team in the Rolex Series, Fall-Line Motorsports, who are entering a single Audi R8 GRAND-AM.

It was a difficult event at Watkins Glen, but even so, the #24 Audi Sport customer racing squad arrived at Indianapolis with a chance at clinching the NAEC title. The factory Audi would only be driven by two drivers this weekend, due to the shorter race duration. These two drivers were Audi Sport Team Rosberg's Filipe Albuquerque and Edoardo Mortara, but Dion von Moltke was on site supporting the team as well. The Fall-Line Motorsports Audi R8 GRAND-AM was driven by Al Carter and Brett Sandberg.

The factory Audi squad showed excellent pace all weekend, and qualified in third for the three hour event, followed by the Fall-Line Motorsports entry in ninth. Filipe Albuquerque took the green flag in the #24 Audi R8 GRAND-AM and remained within the front battle for the first hour. He was running as high as second for the majority of his stint and things were looking good. 

Unfortunately tragedy struck within the second hour. The #94 BMW M3 lost control in the in-field section and collected Albuquerque from behind. The resulting damage ended the #24 Audi’s race and their bid for the NAEC title. The incident can be seen at 2:57 minutes in the highlights video embedded below.

Further back the Fall-Line Motorsports Audi R8 GRAND-AM soldiered on well and came home for a top ten result, finishing ninth within the GT class. The race was eventually won by the #61 Ferrari 458.

The Brickyard Grand Prix results can be seen HERE.

This event concluded the three-round North American Endurance Championship, but the Grand-Am Rolex Series will now head to Road America for round nine in August. 

Photo credit:
Audi of America