Wednesday, November 27, 2013

FIA GT: GT finale at Baku not worth the visit for Phoenix duo Ide/Winkelhock

Phoenix Racing Press Release

The final round of the FIA GT Series at Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, was not worth the visit for Markus Winkelhock and Enzo Ide from Team Phoenix Racing. 
In the end, the German-Belgian duo in the Audi R8 LMS ultra took twelfth place. After having led the race some of the time two drive-through penalties prevented a better final position.

It wasn’t car number five’s weekend, although Ide and particularly Winkelhock managed a good showing by setting very good lap times on the 4.38-kilometre city street circuit on the coast of the Caspian Sea. In the second free practice session, for instance, the #5 Audi was in position number two on the time sheets. In the first qualifying session Markus Winkelhock even achieved the best time in the red-white Phoenix-R8. But because the rear wing was found to be two high by the technical stewards in scrutineering the lap times were cancelled. Consequently, Winkelhock/Ide had to tackle the qualification race from the last row on the grid.

Both Phoenix drivers shone with strong performances and managed to recover into the top ten by the time the chequered flag fell. Ultimately the duo saw the flag in ninth place. In the main race Markus Winkelhock managed a very good start but in front of the chicane was heavily pushed out of the way by another car that he was forced to evade. Winkelhock subsequently advanced to third place and was even able to take the lead shortly afterwards. The sport stewards, however, rated the evasive manoeuvre as a short-cut and, at a late stage, decided to impose a drive-through penalty on the team, which caused car #5 to lose a lot of ground.

After the mandatory pit stop, which was unobjectionable from the team’s perspective, Enzo Ide took the wheel of the Audi, was able to make up ground and advanced to sixth place. The team, though, received another drive-through penalty, for a violation of the rules during the pit stop, according to the sport stewards. This cost another 30 seconds and more than twelfth place was no longer possible after these setbacks.

“It’s definitely frustrating. We absolutely had the speed, the car was running like a charm and I love city street circuits. But now we’ve finished without a good result,” said Markus Winkelhock. “It’s totally aggravating because the team, Enzo and I battled so hard and managed to advance all the way to the front from the last row on the grid. This just wasn’t our weekend at all.”

Photo credit: Phoenix Racing