Sunday, August 18, 2013

Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (17-18/08/2013)

By Johan Laubscher

1. The Weekend

Focussing on the weekend of 17 - 18 August 2013

2. The Events

  •           DTM
  •           FIA GT Series
  •           Grand-Am
  •           Brazilian GT
  •           Super GT
  •           Swedish GT
  •           Taiwan Speed Festival
  •           FIA Hillclimb
  •           Cup & Tourenwagen
  •           Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

2.1. DTM

The German DTM Championship was hosted at the Nürburgring short circuit for round seven of the championship this weekend. Free practice saw seven Audis within the top eight. Two Audis made it through to the top four in qualifying, with Molina placing third on the grid and Mortara in fourth, three Audis inside of the top ten. Championship points leader Mike Rockenfeller qualified in eleventh, right behind his rival Bruno Spengler. The race got underway with rain on the warm up lap, which caused mayhem at the start. Many of the Audis spun during the first two corners, including Mike Rockenfeller who went off in avoidance. Phoenix Racing then pitted Rocky early for wet tires, before the pitstop window opened. The move resulted in Rocky leading most of the race. It was a great recovery drive as he lead at the front, but the extra pitstop dropped him to fourth place, the highest Audi finisher. He was followed by three more Audis inside of the top ten: Adrien Tambay in sixth, Miguel Molina in eighth and Jamie Green in ninth. Mike Rockenfeller has defended his championship lead, he is now thirty-five points clear in first place.

2.2. FIA GT Series

Round four of the FIA GT Series headed to the Slovakia Ring. Only four of the regular five Audi entries were fielded this weekend, as Phoenix Racing decided to withdraw from the event. Three cars from Belgian Audi Club Team WRT and one from Team Novadriver. Balance of Performance has been the buzzword as of late, with the 2013 Audi R8 LMS ultra suffering under the current BoP. WRT decided to retrofit their three cars with the 2012 R8 LMS ultra specification, thus taking advantage of the older specification’s BoP, which is now less harsh than the 2013 version. It was a wise decision and it paid handsome dividends, as the WRT cars were running at the front all weekend long. The #12 Audi took pole position with Rast behind the wheel. During the Qualifying Race Rast lead in the beginning, but an early safety car period bunched up the field. Mayr-Melnhof took over from Rast and held the lead until being passed by Loeb, he ultimately dropped to fifth. The highest Audi was the #11 of Vanthoor and Ortelli, who had progressed up to second, despite their penalty in qualifying. Three Audis within the top ten was rounded out by the #13 WRT car in ninth. The main Championship Race saw Ortelli leading from the start, but his start was judged as a jump-start and the penalty dropped them back. By the end of the race the WRT Audis were running together 1-2-3 in the Pro-Cup class, positions two through fourth overall. The Audis finished in the order: #12 of Nikolaus Mayr-Melnhof and Rene Rast ahead of #11 Stéphane Ortelli and Laurens Vanthoor, and #13 of Edward Sandström and Frank Stippler. 

2.3. Grand-Am

Fall-Line Motorsports was back in the Grand-Am this weekend, taking part in round ten at Kansas Speedway. A week ago they withdrew their Audi entry at Road America due to lack of testing time since acquiring the car, but they were back this week, and with two new drivers in the Audi: Mark Boden and Bryan Sellers. They qualified tenth for the two hour forty-five minute race and finished fifth within the GT class.

2.4. Brazilian GT

The Brazilian GT Championship headed to Interlagos for round four of the 2013 season. It proved to be another successful weekend for the Ebrahim Motors Audi R8 LMS ultra. The Brazilian Audi squad got the weekend off to a good start by topping the first free practice session and finishing second during session two. They continued this impressive pace during qualifying as they netted third on the grid for race one and highlighted the day with pole position for race two. Race one saw the Ebrahim pair competing well as they improved from their starting position to finish second overall, yet another podium finish. The #20 Audi R8 LMS ultra lead from the pole during race two, and successfully defended the lead until the pitstops. Shortly after the stops the Audi unfortunately dropped to third. These positions remained constant until the dying moments of the race. An issue for the Ebrahim Audi saw them loosing time towards the end of the race, and they lost third to an Aston Martin GT4 just before the end, finishing fourth overall. The fourth overall was enough to still clinch third within the GT3 class and the Ebrahim brothers stood on the podium for the second time in the weekend.  

2.5. Super GT

The Suzuka 1000 km was round five of the Japanese Super GT Series this weekend. The Audi R8 LMS ultra of Hitotsuyama Racing was entered with their two regular drivers: Akihiro Tsuzuki and Richard Lyons. They qualified twelfth and finished the grueling endurance event in eleventh place within the GT300 class.

2.6. Swedish GT

Round four of the Swedish GT was held at Anderstorp. The JB Motorsport team has continued their unbeaten winning streak with the #4 Audi R8 LMS. The car driven by Jan Brunstedt and Christer Lindholm qualified on pole and won both of the races. Brunstedt has been unbeaten in the Swedish GT so far this year, extending his overall championship lead even further this weekend.

2.7. Taiwan Speed Festival

The Taiwan Speed Festival is a four round series held at the Pen Bay International Circuit in Taiwan. Round three of the series was held this weekend and it was dominated by an Audi R8 LMS. The Audi Chinese Taipei Team (Absolute Racing / J-Fly Racing) entered one Audi R8 LMS driven by J-Fly Racing regulars: Marchy Lee and Jeffrey Lee. They were the only car entered in the GT-A class for this weekend. The Audi R8 LMS proved to be the class of the field as they topped qualifying and the race overall.

2.8. FIA Hillclimb

The Bergrennen St Ursanne Les Rangiers Hillclimb was held in Switzerland this weekend. It was part of the FIA Hillclimb Championship. The modified ABT-Audi TT-R of Vitver Vláďa was presented at the event, fielded by SVC Vitver Racing / SVC Náchod Motorsport.

2.9. Cup & Tourenwagen

The German Cup and Tourenwagen Trophy was at the Zolder Race Festival this weekend. A single Audi was entered, the Audi TT Mk1 of Franz-Josef Fischer. This was the final event of the 2013 Cup and Tourenwagen Trophy.

2.10. Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

The 2013 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion was held at Laguna Seca this weekend. Two very potent Audis made an appearance at the event, both owned by Eurospec Sport. They entered their 1988 Audi 200 Trans-Am (chassis #TA4) in Group 6B of the historic racing. Steve Zlotkin, the car's owner, was behind the wheel of the Audi 200 Trans-Am. The second Audi present was an Audi S4 GTO, also owned by Zlotkin at Eurospec, which was on display alongside the Audi 200 Trans-Am. This Audi S4 GTO is the ex-Stuck/Aberdein car which raced in the South African Wesbank Modifieds Championship from 1992-1994.

Eurospec Sport website

2.11. Other Audi News

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT released their Spa 24 Hours movie on Monday afternoon. It is a 52 minute film documenting WRT’s 2013 Spa 24 Hours. It is an excellent production and is well worth watching. The film, available in both English and French, can be seen HERE

DragonSpeed, the first North American team which acquired an Audi R8 LMS ultra during 2012, has expressed interest in running in the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge. This comes after the announcement that the World Challenge will be allowing FIA GT3 cars, in their full GT3 aerodynamic configuration, to take part in 2014. DragonSpeed mentioned their intentions via their Facebook page on Tuesday.

The FIA has decided that the BoP for the 2013 Audi R8 LMS ultra will remain unchanged following events at the Spa 24 Hours. It has widely been said that the Audi R8 LMS ultra is indeed suffering from the current imposed BoP, but it will be remaining unchanged.

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT switched back to the 2012 specification of the Audi R8 LMS ultra in Slovakia. WRT competed in round four of the FIA GT Series at the Slovakia Ring this weekend. They opted to retrofit their cars with the 2012 R8 LMS ultra specification, thus defining them as 2012 models and the older car BoP. They have noted that the 2012 Audi BoP is less harsh than the current 2013 Audi BoP, thus it was a beneficial move as they were well on the pace. The differences between the 2012 and 2013 Audi R8 LMS ultra can be seen HERE.

In 2014 the Japanese Super GT and the German DTM will be using a similar rule set. The new “DTM compatible” GT500 cars from Honda, Nissan and Lexus were revealed at Suzuka this weekend, during the Suzuka 1000 km event of the Super GT series. The new GT500 cars have DTM compatible chassis', but the engine regulations will be different in Japan and Germany during 2014, with identical regulations being envisioned in the years to come. More can be read HERE.

Honda / Nissan / Lexus press photos via RacerLink

Two of the Volkswagen Group’s leading race drivers swapped cars this weekend. Audi Sport DTM driver Mattias Ekström, and Volkswagen Motorsport WRC driver Sébastien Ogier, drove each other’s cars at the Nürburgring. Ekström was behind the wheel of Ogier’s Volkswagen Polo R WRC and Ogier drove Ekström’s Audi RS 5 DTM R17.

Phoenix Racing did not take part in the FIA GT Series event at the Slovakia Ring this weekend. The team decided to withdraw their car due to a combination of the damage and time constraints after the heavy crash suffered at the Spa 24 Hours, and the current Balance of Performance regulations. The team’s press release can be seen HERE

3. Next Weekend’s events (24-25/08/2013)

  •           VLN
  •           BTCC
  •           Pirelli World Challenge
  •           DMV TCC
  •           Norwegian GT
  •           French Rallycross
  •           Canadian Super Production
  •           AvD 100 Meilen

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