Monday, September 23, 2013

BES: Phoenix Racing with Primat/Jarvis/Haase is best placed Audi team in Blancpain Finale

Phoenix Racing Press Release

Phoenix Racing’s home race and finale of the Blancpain-Endurance-Series (BES) at the Nürburgring ended for Phoenix Racing with tenth place for the #6 Audi R8 LMS ultra with the Swiss Harold Primat, Briton Oliver Jarvis and the German Christopher Haase. 
As a result, Phoenix Racing was the best placed Audi team. Team Boss Ernst Moser was, however, dissatisfied because the second Phoenix-Audi, the #16 R8 with the Belgians Enzo Ide and Anthony Kumpen and the German Markus Winkelhock, finished the six-hour race 17 minutes before the checkered flag due to a gearbox defect.

“Without the retirement, we would have had both cars in the top ten, the best car in fifth place. That would have been okay,” said Ernst Moser. “The balance of performance has indeed been adjusted, it is better but still isn’t enough to be able to aim for the podium.”

The big Blancpain-Endurance finale – the 1000-kilometer race at the Nürburgring – started very promisingly for Phoenix as both R8 cars ranked around the top ten during free practice and in pre qualifying. The disappointment followed when the fight for grid positions began: 19th position for the #16 Ide/Kumpen/Winkelhock and 28th position for the #6 Primat/Jarvis/Haase. Markus Winkelhock: “In free practice we were among the quickest, but in qualifying I had a lot of traffic on my first attempt and in the second attempt I didn’t put a lap together. Two tenths faster and we would have been sixth instead of 18th. The championship is incredibly close.” Christopher Haase had a similar experience: “I knew that a position in the top ten was possible. I started my run late, but just couldn’t find a clear lap.”

Under the watchful gaze of Miguel Molina, Audi DTM driver for Audi Sport Team Phoenix, it was Markus Winkelhock in the red-white R8 LMS ultra who made a particularly good start and immediately slipped into the top ten. “The start was really good, but the Audi’s top speed is still not good enough, so that several cars overtook me again on the straight.” Nevertheless, the #16 gradually made its way up the leader board and after two of the six hours the trio held seventh position. “Before I returned to the pits after my second stint we were even leading for a while,” reported Winkelhock. A top five position was within reach, as the gearbox temperature started to climb. As a result, Enzo Ide, who drove the final stint, was fighting with his hands tied behind his back, and could eventually no longer change gear and parked the Audi in the pits 17 minutes before the checkered flag. “Everybody did a great job since we moved up from 19th to fifth place. My first stint was really good, in the second stint the gearbox broke at the end. These things happen – that’s racing,” said the Belgian. His compatriot Anthony Kumpen was obviously disappointed. “That was really bad luck, especially as our pace was really okay in the race.” Markus Winkelhock’ summary: “A great shame for the team to lose a top five finish just before the end of the race. And a shame that there were not more spectators at the Nürburgring to watch this fabulous race with a unique field of 50 GT3 cars. They missed something really special.”

Starting from 28th on the grid, the road to the front was even further for the second Phoenix R8. “The start was difficult; you really had to be careful in this extremely packed field. I think I made up about ten positions, but overtaking is only possible with great risk. And then on the straights we are too slow and lose one or two places again.” After an hour, the #6 held 18th position, after three hours tenth place. Primat/Jarvis/Haase ran as high as eighth place. Having to change brake pads, however, cost valuable time even though the team completed the job in record time. “Furthermore, after steering wheel was misaligned after contact with another car and the car didn’t handle so well afterwards,” said Christopher Haase. The black-white Primland R8 finally crossed the finish line in tenth place and ninth in the Pro Class after six hours of racing. “We knew that we were faced with a tough race from 28th on the grid. The better balance of performance didn’t really gives bring us a step forward. We did our best and managed to finish in the top ten in the end. It’s okay that we were the best Audi as a result.” Oliver Jarvis saw things the same: “That was a hard job. The team did a fantastic job, the pit stops were excellent and when all is said and done the result is good when you take into account the circumstances. The best Audi in tenth position – need I say more? The rules made our life very difficult.”

“All the drivers and the entire team did an excellent job. We made up time thanks to our strategy and fast pit stops, the team deserve huge credit for this,” said Team Boss Ernst Moser after the BES finale. “2013 was not, however, Audi’s year in the Blancpain Endurance Series. There are such years, but the cards are shuffled again for 2014 and then I hope that we can fight again on a level playing field for podium places.” 

Photo credit: Phoenix Racing