Sunday, September 22, 2013

Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (21-22/09/2013)

By Johan Laubscher

1. The Weekend

Focussing on the weekend of 21 - 22 September 2013

2. The Events

  •           FIA WEC
  •           Blancpain Endurance Series
  •           Swedish GT
  •           Super Taikyu
  •           Britcar
  •           Super GT Test (16-17 Sep)
  •           SCCA National Runoffs - GT2
  •           SCCA National Runoffs - STU
  •           HSR
  •           RCN
  •           French Rallycross
  •           Aus Sports Sedans
  •           Austrian Hillclimb
  •           Rallyday
  •           Arbö Admont Rallye 

2.1. FIA WEC

The FIA World Endurance Championship resumed in North America this weekend, for the Six Hours of Circuit of The Americas. Audi Sport Team Joest and their two Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars were entered. Their driver line-ups remained unchanged with the #1 Audi driven by Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Treluyer, and the #2 Audi by Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loïc Duval. The Audis topped the two Thursday test sessions with 1-2 results, the #2 ahead of the #1 and the lone Toyota. This result was repeated during the first practice session in wet conditions on Thursday. Toyota topped the second free practice ahead of the #2 and #1, followed by Audi topping the third session with another 1-2, Audi #1 leading the way on this occasion. Qualifying saw Audi #2 taking pole ahead of Audi #1 and the Toyota in third.

Audi lead from the start, but the Toyota was able to split the Audis on a restart. A massive battle ensued between the #1 Audi and the #8 Toyota, whilst the leading #2 Audi extended their lead. Fässler was eventually able to pass the Toyota. Shortly after the pass Fässler launched the car over the curbs while lapping a car, and subsequently also lost a legality panel at the rear following contact with a GT car. The #1 car lost time during the repairs for the curb and legality panel damage. Audi #2 continued to lead at the front. Audi #1 later suffered a fuse/electronics issue resulting in the car being stuck in gear and running slowly. It was a quick fix but this dropped them to fourth. Audi battled with Toyota at the front, as the #2 and #8 swapped positions on track and during pitstops, Audi was running single tire stints, whereas Toyota was double stinting. Ultimately the race was won by the #2 Audi when they double stinted their tires during the final stint, taking victory ahead of the #8 Toyota. The podium was completed with the #1 Audi in third.  

2.2. Blancpain Endurance Series

The finale of the 2013 Blancpain Endurance Series was held at the Nürburgring. This event was the fifth BES round and featured a special 1000 km race duration format. A total of five Audis were entered, three from Belgian Audi Club Team WRT and two from Phoenix Racing. The championship title fight came down to this weekend, with Frank Stippler and Christopher Mies fighting for the driver’s title and WRT for the team’s title. Only one Audi made it into the top ten during qualifying, the #13 WRT car of Mies, Stippler and Rast placed seventh. The race got underway with foggy and moist conditions. WRT and their #13 car were very competitive and moved forward inside the top ten. By half distance the #13 had gotten up to second, followed by three more Audis inside of the top ten. As the race progressed the #13 R8 LMS ultra battled with the Marc VDS BMWs and dropped to fourth place. A pitstop to replace the #13 car's brakes dropped them back, but later contact put the #13 completely out of contention. The problems for the #13 combined with issues for the #1 ended WRT's bid for the championship titles. Phoenix Racing, with their #16 car, were running well and placed within the middle of the top ten during the final hour, but they needed a brakes change with under twenty minutes to go, dropping them far back. Ultimately the sister Phoenix #6 Audi R8 LMS ultra was the best Audi finisher, as they finished tenth. The highest WRT Audi was the #1 in sixteenth place.

2.3. Swedish GT

The 2013 Swedish GT Championship came to a close at round six held at Mantorp Park. JB Motorsport had been unbeaten this year and they continued their good form this weekend. Their Audi R8 LMS was again piloted by Jan Brunstedt and Christer Lindholm. Only one Audi had been entered during the Swedish GT season, but a second Audi team took part in the season finale. Alfab Racing, who took part in the 2011 and 2012 Swedish GT seasons, entered their #7 Audi R8 LMS this weekend, driven by Erik Behrens and Daniel Roos. Qualifying saw the Audis dominate at the front, as Alfab Racing took pole ahead of JB Motorsport by just 0.246 seconds. The race itself saw Alfab Racing making it a victorious comeback as Roos and Behrens took the checkered flag. Brunstedt and Lindholm finished third in their #4 Audi R8 LMS. The Audi R8 LMS has been unbeaten in Swedish GT this year, as all seven races were won by the Audi GT3 race car: Six wins from JB Motorsport and one from Alfab Racing. 

2.4. Super Taikyu

The Japanese Super Taikyu Endurance Championship headed to Suzuka for round six. The event was split into three forty minute races/heats. Nova Engineering entered their Audi R8 LMS ultra, driven by Seiji Ara and Shohei Yuzawa. Qualifying on Saturday yielded fourth, second and fifth place starting positions for the three races respectively. Race one followed the qualifying sessions, with Yuzawa driving to a fifth place finish. Races two and three were held on Sunday. The second race saw Seiji Ara starting from second position and competing very well. He brought the Audi home to the finish for Team Nova's first podium result with their Audi, finishing third overall. The third and final forty minute sprint race saw Shohei Yuzawa behind the wheel. He started from fifth and collected the team's third top five result for the weekend by finishing fourth.

2.5. Britcar

Silverstone hosted the Britcar 1000 this weekend. This was round six of the MSA British Endurance Championship. The Simpson Motorsport Audi R8 LMS team, one of the newest Audi Sport customer racing teams, took part in the event. They again performed very well this weekend, after taking a class victory on their debut with the car at Brand Hatch last time out. Qualifying yielded eleventh place place overall, third in class. They competed well during the 1000 km event, running within the overall top ten and at the front of Class 2. By the end of the long endurance race the #46 Audi R8 LMS crossed the line in sixth place overall, a well deserved second in class. 

2.6. Super GT Test (16-17 Sep)

The Japanese Super GT held an official test sessions at Twin Ring Motegi this week. The tests took place on Monday and Tuesday. Hitotsuyama Racing was present and took part with their 2013 Audi R8 LMS ultra. The team’s regular two drivers, Akihiro Tsuzuki and Richard Lyons, were joined by Oliver Jarvis for the test day. The first day was cancelled due to severe weather conditions. The #21 Hitotsuyama Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra placed seventh during the morning session and eleventh during the afternoon session. Jarvis, who has competed in Japan for many years, was included in the test to assist Hitotsuyama Racing. Audi Japan and Audi Sport customer racing made the decision to add Jarvis to the test day line-up, however it has been mentioned that Jarvis will not be competing in any of the Super GT races.

2.7. SCCA National Runoffs - GT2

The SCCA National Championship Runnoffs took place at Road America this week. The Runoffs is the annual highlight in the SCCA National and Regional calendars. Originally three Audis had been entered for the Runoffs, including two Audi R8 GRAND-AM entries. The first Audi R8 GRAND-AM was that of Limitless Racing and Dr Jason Lee, who had qualified for the Runoffs GT2 class by competing in the 2013 SCCA U.S. Majors this year. The second R8 GRAND-AM was originally entered by Fall-Line Motorsports for Mark Boden, however the team switched to a Porsche 911 GT3 for the weekend, thus dropping the Audi R8 GRAND-AM count to only one car. The third Audi car was entered in the STU class, discussed in point 2.8 below.  It was a steep learning curve for Limitless Racing as their driver, Dr Jason Lee, had never competed at Road America before. Despite this, Dr Lee was able to put in respectable lap times and continued to improve with each session. He ultimately qualified eighteenth within GT2 during the first dry session, behind the wheel of his #08 Audi R8 GRAND-AM. The race took place on a drying track. Dr Lee was able to progress very well and got up to eleventh overall on the first lap, but he would suffer on his wet tires later during the race. He was involved in a number of battles, trying to defend his position. Ultimately he lost places and dropped to twenty-fifth overall after the full-course yellow, finishing twelfth in class.

2.8. SCCA National Runoffs - STU

SCCA National Championship Runnoffs STU class saw the return of Joel Weinberger and his Continental Racing Audi A4. This A4 is one of the ex-Stasis SCCA World Challenge touring cars. Weinberger had previously won the STU class at the 2011 Runoffs and he again performed well this year. Qualifying for STU saw Weinberger suffering a brakes issue which dropped him back, this after he had been running at the front during practice. The team managed to fix the issues for qualifying on day two, but with unfavourable weather conditions the times were not bettered from day one and he would line up ninth for the STU race. At 8:45 am local time the STU grid got underway in very wet conditions. Weinberger, armed with quattro, was able to progress well through the field. He steadily moved up to third, his eventual finishing position. The original second place finisher was disqualified during the post-race technical inspection, thus Weinberger was classified in second place in the final results.

2.9. HSR

The Atlanta Historic Races were held at Road Atlanta this weekend, it was a HSR - Historic Sportscar Racing event. One Audi was entered, the Audi R8 (#606) entered by GMT Racing and driven/owned by Travis Engen.

2.10. RCN

Round seven of the RCN took place at the Nürburgring. A total of eight Audis took part, including: TTS, TT, A4, S3, A3 and Coupe.

2.11. French Rallycross

The French Rallycross Championship held the Rallycross de Normandie round this weekend. Two Audi cars were entered: the Racing Team Jagu Audi A1 driven by Yvonnick Jagu, and the ex-Jagu Audi A3 of Jimmy Terpereau.

2.12. Aus Sports Sedans

The Australian Kerrick Sports Sedans held its fourth round at Phillip Island this weekend. The Audi A4 Silhouette of Darren Hossack did well by qualifying second and first for the first two races. He finished second in the first race of the day, but unfortunately retired from race two and did not take part in race three.

2.13. Austrian Hillclimb

The Bergrennen St. Agatha was held in Austria this weekend. The Marko Racing Audi A4 STW was amongst the entrants, driven by Andreas Marko.

2.14. Rallyday

The annual Rallyday was held at the Castle Combe circuit. Current WRC championship leader and Volkswagen works driver, Sébastien Ogier, was present and competed with an Audi quattro A2 rally car. Stig Blomqvist was also present, driving an Audi Sport quattro S1 E2 rally car.

2.15. Arbö Admont Rallye 

The Arbö Admont Rallye was held in Austria this weekend. A number of Audi rally cars took part, including an original ex-factory Audi Sport quattro. A total of seven Audis were entered.

2.16. Other Audi News

The 2014 FIA World Endurance Calendar was released this weekend. It has remained unchanged from 2013 with the same events being featured next year.

Official Test - 28-29 March                        
Silverstone - 18-20 April
Spa-Francorchamps - 9-10 May
24 Heures du Mans Test - 01 June           
24 Heures du Mans - 14/15 June                                               
Sao Paulo - 29-31 August (TBC)                                       
Circuit of the Americas - 19-21 September                  
Fuji - 10-12 October                                      
Shanghai - 31 Oct - 1 Nov                                                 
Bahrain - 13-15 November

The 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Calendar was released on Friday. The calendar features a combination of the older Grand-Am and ALMS calendars, but unfortunately some events were dropped: notably Lime Rock, Mid Ohio etc.

Rolex 24 at Daytona - Jan. 25-26
Twelve Hours of Sebring - March 15
Long Beach - April 12 - (Prototype and GTLM only)
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca - May 4
Detroit Belle Isle - May 31 - (P, PC and GTD only)
Six Hours of The Glen - June 29
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park - July 13
Indianapolis Motor Speedway - July 25
Road America - August 10
Virginia International Raceway - August 24 - (GTLM/GTD race; PC race)
Circuit of The Americas - September 20
Petit Le Mans - October 4

Melbourne Performance Centre completed testing at Phillip Island on Wednesday, the eleventh of September. They tested two Audi R8 LMS cars for two new customers: Steve McLaughlen and Robert Marshall. It was revealed this week that Marshall rolled his R8 LMS at the test, but fortunately the car had not sustain structural damage and MPC has already begun repairing the vehicle. Both cars will debut with their new owners at round four of the Victorian State Circuit Racing Championships in October.

Audi Sport Italia will be back with two Audi RS 5 quattro race cars at Imola next weekend, round seven of the Superstars Series. At the previous two rounds Audi Sport Italia had only entered one RS 5 quattro for Gianni Morbidelli. They did this because of a clash with the Italian GT calendar during each of those weekends, thus they only ran one car as the team’s resources were spread between the two events each time, one RS 5 in Superstars and two Audi R8 LMS ultra cars in Italian GT. The driver of the team’s silver #46 Audi RS 5 quattro is yet to be announced, but the team has hinted that it will be an Italian driver.

The Istook Motorsports Audi TT RS race car was part of the Audi Corral at the Circuit of The Americas this weekend. Don Istook competes in the SCCA Pirelli World Challenge with this #01 Audi TT RS. His team is also busy preparing a second TT RS race car for the series.

The Alex Job Racing (AJR) Audi R8 GRAND-AM was on display at the Circuit of The Americas this weekend. This is the car that won the 2013 Daytona 24 Hours GT class. The vehicle is now owned by Alex Welch, who acquired the R8 a few months ago. Welch also competes with one of the GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS cars in the SCCA Pirelli World Challenge.

Fourtitude on tumblr

An Audi R8 was also on display, located near the AJR Audi R8 GRAND-AM at the Circuit of The Americas. This Audi R8 is chassis #605, owned by Audi North America. It is the 2005 Le Mans winning car and the car which won the R8's final race at ALMS Lime Rock in 2006.

Onefastaudi FB page

A number of passenger rides were on offer for Audi and their guests at COTA this weekend. Many journalists were taken out on track in an Audi R8 V10 road car with Marcel Fässler behind the wheel. Audi’s VIP guests were treated to passenger laps in the #24 Audi Sport customer racing Audi R8 GRAND-AM race car. The car was driven by three race drivers during the laps: Dindo Capello, Dion von Moltke and Al Carter. Fourtitude’s George Achorn was among the VIP guests who enjoyed a ride with the R8 GRAND-AM.

3. Next Weekend’s events (28-29/09/2013)

  •           DTM
  •           ELMS
  •           BTCC
  •           Grand-Am
  •           Superstars
  •           Superstars GT Sprint
  •           ADAC Procar
  •           Dutch Supercars Challenge
  •           SVRA
  •           FIA GT Series
  •           DMV TCC
  •           Audi endurance experience (24-25 Sep)
  •           Norwegian GT
  •           Race Trophy Austria
  •           AvD 100 Meilen
  •           VLN
  •           ADAC GT Masters
  •           Option Cup

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