Sunday, September 1, 2013

Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (31/08-1/09/2013)

By Johan Laubscher

1. The Weekend

Focussing on the weekend of 31 August - 1 September 2013

2. The Events

  •           FIA WEC
  •           DTM Test
  •           Zolder 24 Hours
  •           ADAC GT Masters
  •           MMER
  •           Audi R8 LMS Cup
  •           Italian GT
  •           Portuguese GT/ International Supercars Series
  •           Super Taikyu
  •           Superstars GT Sprint
  •           Superstars
  •           SA Production Cars
  •           RCN
  •           Belgian Historic Cup

2.1. FIA WEC

The FIA World Endurance Championship resumed in Brazil this weekend. Interlagos played host to round four of the championship. Audi Sport Team Joest entered two Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars, both in the “short-tail” configuration. The #1 was driven by Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Treluyer, the #2 by Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loïc Duval. Toyota only entered a single TS030 and topped the first practice session, followed by Audi grabbing a 1-2 during the second and third sessions. The 1-2 was maintained in qualifying, as the #1 Audi crew took pole ahead of the #2 Audi and the Toyota. Audi lead the way from the start with McNish leading. The Toyota was unfortunately retired after a crash whilst lapping a LMP2 car. LMP1 then became an Audi vs Audi in-house battle, which saw the lead alternating during the race. The race was decided when the #2 Audi lost its right rear wheel following a pitstop. Oddly enough the wheel separated from the car and bounced off the wall back onto the rear deck of the car. This incident prompted two related, but separate time penalties, the first for speeding in pitlane and the second for an unsafe pit release. They lost a considerable amount of time and their shot at victory. By the end of the six hours the #1 Audi squad were victorious ahead of their teammates in Audi #2. 

2.2. DTM Tests

A three-day test was held at the Red Bull Ring in Austria this week. All three of the DTM’s manufacturers were present: Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Wet and mixed weather was on offer during the test. Four drivers were present for Audi. Mike Rockenfeller and Mattias Ekström were both on hand to drive the Audi RS 5 DTM. Two more drivers were also on site, Lucas di Grassi and Nico Müller. The latter two drivers were offered to take part in order to test with the RS 5 DTM for the first time.

2.3. Zolder 24 Hours

The Zolder 24 Hours was held this weekend. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT entered one Audi R8 LMS ultra, driven by Laurens Vanthoor, Anthony Kumpen, Enzo Ide and Bert Longin. WRT was the favourite ahead of the event and they backed this up by topping all of the sessions. They took pole position with a Zolder GT3 lap record breaking lap time. WRT lead from the start and continued to lead into the night. They suffered a gearbox issue and lost a lot of time replacing the gearbox, rejoining the track thirty-two laps down on the leaders. They recovered well and moved into the top three by the time dawn broke over Zolder. During the morning they had recovered up to second when a suspension problem lost them even more time, putting them out of contention for race victory. They rejoined in fourth overall and managed to recover to third. The podium result looked safe, but with an hour to go the WRT Audi was back in the pits with further mechanical issues. They lost third place in the process and got out on track with thirty minutes to go, to finally claim fourth overall and third in the GT class after a very long 24 hours event. 

2.4. ADAC GT Masters

EuroSpeedway Lausitz played host to round six of the ADAC GT Masters. Six Audi R8 LMS ultra cars were entered from Prosperia C.ABT Racing, MS Racing and YACO Racing. Qualifying for race one saw three Audis within the top ten, lead by the #27 Audi in second. The grid for race two had two Audis in the top ten, lead by the #28 Audi in sixth. Race one saw three Audis within the top ten, lead by the #28 Audi in fifth. The second race again saw the #28 as the leading Audi, as they finished third on the podium. They were followed by the #27 Audi in sixth, two Audis within the top ten.

2.5. MMER

The Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race (Sepang 12 Hours) was held this weekend. Four Audis took part, all run by Absolute Racing. Three Audi R8 LMS Cup team cars took part, entered in the GTC class. One Audi was entered in the top GT3 class, the #777 J-Fly Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra driven by Jeffrey Lee, Marchy Lee, Adderly Fong. Onda’s #888 Audi R8 LMS ultra was also entered and on site, but it was withdrawn from the event during the week running up to the race. The #777 Audi was the best placed during qualifying, having taken tenth spot. Alex Yoong took pole in the GTC class, behind the wheel of the #66 R8 LMS. The race began at midnight on Sunday morning and continued through the dark and into the daylight. The #777 Audi R8 LMS ultra progressed steadily and made it into the top three. An unfortunate issue with the brakes cost them time and they ultimately finished seventh overall. There was an 1-2 Audi finish within the GTC class, as the #66 Audi R8 LMS finished first in class, eighth overall.

2.6. Audi R8 LMS Cup

The Audi R8 LMS Cup was also at Sepang this weekend, running as a support event for the MMER. This completed a very busy week for Absolute Racing, who runs the entire Audi R8 LMS Cup grid, along with the addition of the four MMER entries. Alex Yoong took victory in race one, in front of his home crowd in Malaysia. He was joined on the podium by Marchy Lee and Cheng Cong Fu. Race two was again won by the local hero, Alex Yoong. He finished ahead of Cong Fu Cheng and Adderly Fong.

2.7. Italian GT

Imola again hosted the Italian GT Championship this weekend, round five. Audi Sport Italia was split between the Italian GT at Imola and the Superstars at Donington, but despite of this both Audi R8 LMS ultra cars were present at Imola. They qualified third and seventh for race one, followed by fourth and eighth for race two. The first race saw the #5 Audi starting from pitlane and ultimately finishing seventh, whilst their teammates in the #4 suffered contact at the start and finished fourteenth after losing time for repairs. Race two saw the #4 Audi finishing fifth, whilst their teammates unfortunately did not start the race in the #5 Audi.

2.8. Portuguese GT/ International Supercars Series

Portimao hosted GT Racing this weekend, in the form of the fourth Portuguese GT round and the third Supercars International Series round. These two series were once again combined this weekend. Team Novadriver were entered with their pair of Audi R8 LMS ultra cars. They qualified second and third and finished the event with yet another victory for the #1 car, followed by the #10 in third. This victory for the #1 Novadriver driver squad clinched the Portuguese GT driver’s title for Cesar Campanico, Carlos Vieira and Mikko Eskelinen.

2.9. Super Taikyu

The Super Taikyu was at Okayama this weekend. It was round five of the season and it was a three hour event. The Nova Engineering Audi R8 LMS ultra made its third consecutive appearance in the series, driven by Seiji Ara and Shohei Yuzawa. They qualified seventh overall for the three hour endurance event. By the end of the first hour they had dropped outside of the top ten, but they had recovered to sixth place overall by the end of the second hour. Ultimately they finished in seventh place overall.

2.10. Superstars GT Sprint

Donington hosted the Superstars GT  Sprint and Superstars Series this weekend. The MTM Audi R8 LMS with championship points leader Thomas Schöffler was entered. Schöffler was joined by factory Audi driver, Oliver Jarvis, as his co-driver. They qualified on pole for race one and third for race two. The first race saw the pairing finish third, followed by another third in race two.

2.11. Superstars

The Superstars Series was also at Donginton, but only one Audi was entered. With Audi Sport Italia being split between Imola and Donington they again decided to only enter one Audi RS 5 quattro, the #45 with Gianni Morbidelli. He qualified fourth and battle at the front during race one, despite the severe performance penalties. He was battling for third and second when the leading group all slipped on oil dropped by a Lexus. Morbidelli unfortunately spun, but recovered to finish fourth, right behind his title rival. Race two saw Gianni Morbidelli battling for the lead with his title rival, Thomas Biagi. He finally passed Biagi for the lead during the second half of the race and held it to take victory, despite the performance penalties.

2.12. SA Production Cars

The South African Bridgestone Production Cars headed back to Zwartkops Raceway for round seven. All four regular Audi S4s were entered, from Terry Moss Racing and VMP Motorsport. The cars showed well during practice and Michael Stephen qualified as the leading Audi in fourth place. Race won was dominated by the BMW team and the highest Audi was Stephen in fourth. Race two saw the reverse grid and the Audis lead from the front. It was an Audi S4 1-2-3 finish, with Melvill Priest winning ahead of Bonafede and Sipuka. Race three was a race of attrition and it finished with a double podium, as Gennaro Bonafede finished second ahead of Stephen in third. Stephen remains the clear championship points leader.

2.13. RCN

The sixth RCN event was held at the Nürburgring this weekend. A total of seven Audi race cars were entered, including Audi Coupe, TTS, TT, A3 and S3 cars.

2.14. Belgian Historic Cup

The Belgian Historic Cup was a support event for the Zolder 24 Hours. The yellow/orange Kamei/Nothelle Audi Coupe was entered, driven by Patrick Schreurs and Johan Aerts. It is the same Audi Coupe which André Lotterer has driven in recent Belgian historic racing events.

2.15. Other Audi News

The provisional 2014 Dubai 24 Hours entry list was revealed this week. Thus far it includes two Audi teams. Rotek Racing has entered their SP4T Audi TT RS and the Red Camel - team has entered their privately built Audi R8 V8 race car.

The 2013 SCCA National Runoffs entry list was released during this week. Three Audis will be competing in the classes at Road America this year. The first Audi includes the Audi A4 B7 of Joel Weinberger, entered by the Continental Racing team. Weinberger is entered in the STU class, a class which he won at the Runoffs in 2011. His Audi A4 is an ex-Stasis SCCA World Challenge Touring Car. Two Audi R8 GRAND-AM cars conclude the Audis on the 2013 entry list. The first R8 GRAND-AM is from Limitless Racing. Dr Jason Lee has been competing in the 2013 SCCA U.S. Majors and he has qualified to compete in the SCCA GT2 class. The final Audi is the Audi R8 GRAND-AM from Fall-Line Motorsports. Mark Boden will be piloting the blue Fall-Line Audi in the Touring 1 class. 

All of the cars competing in the FIA WEC in Brazil carried a special tribute this weekend. It was a tribute to Allan Simonsen, who tragically lost his life during the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours. All the cars had a sticker with Simonsen’s name and the Danish flag.

The second Istook Motorsports TT RS build is progressing well. The team already competes in the Pirelli World Challenge with their white TT RS, with Don Istook behind the wheel.

3. Next Weekend’s events (7-8/09/2013)

  •           Grand-Am
  •           British GT
  •           French GT-Tour
  •           Dutch Supercars Challenge
  •           BRCC
  •           Barcelona 24 Hours
  •           SVRA
  •           GT Cup
  •           DMV TCC
  •           GT Open
  •           Swedish GT
  •           Brazilian GT
  •           French Rallycross
  •           AvD 100 Meilen
  •           Super GT

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