Friday, July 26, 2013

Spa 24 Hours: Phoenix Racing expect a difficult 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps

Phoenix Racing Press Release

Temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius on Saturday and thunderstorms and heavy rain on Sunday – Phoenix Racing expect a difficult 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps at the weekend. 

The grid positions after Thursday evening’s qualifying are also anything but easy for the pair of Phoenix driver trios of Enzo Ide (B), Anthony Kumpen (B) and Markus Winkelhock (D) in #16 Audi R8 LMS ultra and Harold Primat (CH), Oliver Jarvis (GB) and Christopher Haase (D) in #6 Audi – because with start positions 27 for Ide/Kumpen/Winkelhock and 30 for Primat/Jarvis/Haase the expectations were not met. Phoenix enters the second and third best Audi in the high-caliber field consisting of 65 GT3 sportscars. Only one R8 made the cut for the Top 20 qualifying, in which the grid positions from one to 20 are set on Friday evening. The 24h classic on the Grand Prix track in the Belgian Ardennes, the fourth round of the Blancpain Endurance Series (BES), starts at 16:30 on Saturday. 

“When just one Audi breaks into the Top 20 qualifying then you know exactly where you are. We saw the indications of this previously at the Blancpain race at Le Castellet where we were simply too slow on the straights and the balance of performance has not changed since then. It’ll be a tough race,” explained Phoenix Team Boss Ernst Moser on Thursday evening.
After the spectacular presentation of the drivers and cars on Wednesday through the small Belgium town Spa, the two Phoenix squads appeared to be in good form after taking sixth (#6) and twelfth (#16) in free practice on Thursday morning. However, when the three part qualifying session started in the evening, the state of play was quickly apparent because the two Phoenix Audis were stuck in midfield. “We need to find at least a second, which we lose solely on the straights,” stated Ernst Moser.

Markus Winkelhock (D), #16 Audi R8 LMS ultra: “The grid position is not what we expected. In view of the car’s balance of performance, it wasn’t possible to squeeze more out of the R8. We are the second best Audi and are 27th on the grid. However, Phoenix is in good shape and we expect unsettled weather conditions. There is still everything to play for, and I look forward to the race with a positive frame of mind.”

Anthony Kumpen (B), #16 Audi R8 LMS ultra: “We are ten kilometers slower on the straights compared to the other cars. I drove a small long-run in night practice which was reasonably consistent. The car felt good. Now we need a good strategy and good pace to move up through the field during the race. I’m hoping for a hot race and for unsettled weather conditions. It doesn’t look so good for us after qualifying but anything can happen. I love Spa and have finished on the podium here quite often. The circuit is big fun to drive.”

Enzo Ide (B), #16 Audi R8 LMS ultra: “The R8 is made for endurance races and we also rely on the qualities of this car for this 24-hour race. Our set-up is quite okay for the race and I feel comfortable in the car. Now it’s a question of driving consistently quick, having no problems, making good pit stops and having some luck on your side, which is what you need during a 24-hour race. Spa is my favorite race track, but I don’t have a home advantage as Belgian.”

Harold Primat (CH), #6 Audi R8 LMS ultra: “I drove my first ever laps in the dark around this challenging track today. Hmm, you can’t have enough light! It wasn’t an easy qualifying session for us; the Audi is short on power compared to the competition. The car feels comfortable for the race, and we must do everything possible to get through without problems.”

Oliver Jarvis (GB), #6 Audi R8 LMS ultra: “All in all, the day was okay. We worked carefully through our program. We are too slow on the straights due to the balance of performance of the car; we are much stronger in the corners- This makes overtaking in the race difficult for us. However, we also can’t take any unnecessary big risks, and must not make problems for ourselves. Spa is an indescribable sensation for every driver. The difference between our Audi Le Mans prototype and the GT3 Audi R8 is enormous. I can still improve in the R8 and hope that I can find a good rhythm after my first stint.”

Christopher Haase (D), #6 Audi R8 LMS ultra: “We started free practice with a good car balance. We initially lost a little grip in qualifying, because the track conditions had changed. We worked on this. We now have a good base, even though we didn’t make Top 20 qualifying. However, a 24-hour race isn’t just won from the front row of the grid. I’m certainly looking forward to the race as Spa is one of my favorite race tracks.”

Photo credit: Phoenix Racing