By Johan Laubscher
1. The Weekend
Focussing on the weekend of 16 - 17 November 2013
2. The Events
- Macau GT Cup
- GT Asia
- TUSC Sebring Test
- Australian Sports Sedans
The 2013 Macau GT Cup was held as part of the annual Macau Grand Prix this weekend. The Macau GT Cup was held alongside the GT Asia season finale, running together on track this weekend. A number of GT Asia entrants were in the field. Four of the six Audi entries were also entered for the GT Asia finale.
The big news this weekend was the return of the reigning two-time Macau GT Cup champion, Edoardo Mortara, in his his #1 Audi R8 LMS Cup backed Audi R8 LMS ultra. He was joined by his teammate, Marchy Lee, in the #38 Audi Hong Kong Audi R8 LMS ultra, neither were entered as GT Asia competitors. Absolute Racing was also present with their regular three-car GT Asia team, along with another private Audi entry from IMS, all four entered in GT Asia. Absolute Racing, who competed with the team name of "Team R8 LMS Ultra," arrived as the leaders in the GT Asia teams' championship points standings and they were aiming to clinch the title this weekend.
Edoardo Mortara dominated practice on Friday by over two and a half seconds and he continued that form during the first qualifying session with a lap record setting provisional pole position, over half a second clear of the field.
The final qualifying grid was determined by the fastest times from the two qualifying sessions. The second session was dominated by Maro Engel in the Erebus Mercedes-Benz SLS GT3. Mortara was the highest Audi runner and qualified in second position on the grid. His teammate Marchy Lee qualified in eleventh, followed by Jeffrey Lee in seventeenth, Philip Ma in eighteenth, Francis Hideki Onda in twenty-sixth and Shim Ching in thirty-second.
The race itself got underway at 9:20 on Sunday morning and saw Maro Engel in the #36 Mercedes-Benz leading the way as Mortara dropped from second to fourth, being passed by Alexandre Imperatori in the #99 Porsche and Renger van der Zande in the #63 Mercedes-Benz. A massive crash collecting a number of competitors occurred on the first lap, thus prompting the first safety car. The race restarted a few laps later and the top four remained stagnant with another crash bringing out the safety car on the restart lap.
Marchy Lee had a good start to the race and had moved up to sixth by the second safety car. The pair of Absolute Racing Audis of Jeffrey Lee and Philip Ma had progressed well up to tenth and eleventh, well poised for the teams' championship title.
The race restarted for a second time and went green to the flag with racing. The top four remained stagnant until the fourth last lap when race leader, Maro Engel, slowed on track. This promoted Mortara up to third. He then managed a brilliant overtaking manoeuvre to take second away from van der Zande in the infield section of the track. Mr Macau then had two laps to try and pass Alexandre Imperatori in the Porsche for the lead.
Traffic came into play coming out of the hairpin on the penultimate lap and Mortara was able to grab the lead as chaos broke out behind him. Mortara continued to lead as Imperatori collected van der Zande going into Lisboa. Mr Macau continued to lead and brought his #1 Audi R8 LMS ultra home for his third consecutive Macau GT Cup victory, finishing ahead of Watts' McLaren and Imperatori's Porsche. Mortara also set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, a 2:19.550, the only driver to drop into the 2 minute 19 second bracket during the race.
Mr Macau had it all do and he was able to recover from fourth to first for victory. Marchy Lee rounded out the top four in fourth, ensuring that two Audis finished within the top four. Jeffrey Lee and Philip Ma rounded out the top ten in ninth and tenth respectively. Francis Hideki Onda finished seventeenth and Shim Ching unfortunately retired.
It was another terrific Macau Grand Prix weekend for the Audi entrants. This win for Mortara also marked his sixth straight victory at Macau, as he had won the previous five races that he had been entered for: the 2009 and 2010 Macau Formula 3 races, the 2011 and 2012 Macau GT Cup and the 2013 Audi R8 LMS Cup round at Macau. Edoardo Mortara continues to deserve his title of “Mr Macau”.
RacerLink [Sean Henshelwood]
2.2. GT Asia
The 2013 GT Asia Series concluded with the finale at Macau this weekend. The GT Asia season finale was held alongside the Macau GT Cup, running together on track. A number of GT Asia entrants were in the field. Four of the six Audi entries were also entered for the GT Asia finale, which included: Jeffery Lee (#7), Shim Ching (#78), Francis Hideki Onda (#86) and Philip Ma (#98).
The big news this weekend was the return of the reigning two-time Macau GT Cup champion, Edoardo Mortara, in his his #1 Audi R8 LMS Cup backed Audi R8 LMS ultra. He was joined by his teammate, Marchy Lee, in the #38 Audi Hong Kong Audi R8 LMS ultra, neither were entered as GT Asia competitors. Absolute Racing was also present with their regular three-car GT Asia team, along with another private Audi entry from IMS, all four entered in GT Asia. Absolute Racing, who competed with the team name of "Team R8 LMS Ultra," arrived as the leaders in the GT Asia teams' championship points standings and they were aiming to clinch the title this weekend. They were leading the standings ahead of Clearwater Racing and Craft Racing.
Qualifying was split over two days, with the first session on Friday and the second on Saturday. The first session concluded with Jeffrey Lee topping the times as the fastest GT Asia entrant in fourteenth overall. The final qualifying grid was determined by the fastest times from the two qualifying sessions. The GT Asia 'pole position' went to Mok Weng Sun in his McLaren MP4-12C, who qualified fourteenth overall. Jeffrey Lee was the highest GT Asia Audi qualifier and he lined up in fourth place, seventeenth overall. Philip Ma qualified in fifth, eighteenth overall. Francis Hideki Onda qualified in twelfth, twenty-sixth overall and Shim Ching lined up seventeenth, thirty-second overall.
The race itself got underway at 9:20 on Sunday morning and up front there was a battle between the front running Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Audi cars. Further back the GT Asia competitors were looking for passing opportunities and to stay clear of incidents. A large crash during the opening few corners unfortunately took out a number of the GT Asia runners. Fortunately the three Absolute Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra cars made it through the carnage and survived the opening laps. Their main challengers for the teams' title, Clearwater Racing, were unfortunately collected in the incidents that brought out the first two safety cars.
Jeffrey Lee and Philip Ma were running together and moved up into the top ten overall. They maintained their positions to the flag, with Lee finishing ninth ahead of Ma in tenth. This translated into third within the GT Asia runners for Marchy Lee and fourth for Ma. The GT Asia ranks was lead by Li Zhi Cong in the #2 Porsche ahead of Frank Yu in the #30 Craft Racing Aston Martin. Francis Hideki Onda finished seventeenth overall, taking tenth within GT Asia, ensuring that all three of the Absolute Racing Audis finished within the GT Asia top ten, vital for the teams' championship points standings. Shim Ching unfortunately retired from the race.
These results were enough to crown Absolute Racing with the 2013 GT Asia teams’ championship title. Well done to the entire team, who competed as “Team R8 LMS ultra” during 2013.
2.3. TUSC Sebring Test
The first official TUDOR United SportsCar Championship test days were held at Sebring this weekend. A total of four Audi R8 LMS cars were entered by three different teams. Flying Lizard Motorsports entered two cars and Fall-Line Motorsports and Paul Miller Racing both entered one car each. These Audi R8 LMS cars were entered in the GT Daytona class (GTD).
The Flying Lizard Motorsports cars included Seth Neiman, Spencer Pumpelly, Dion von Moltke, Nelson Canache, Oliver Jarvis and Marco Bonanomi as the drivers. The team team’s two cars carried the numbers #35 and #45.
The Fall-Line Motorsports #46 Audi R8 LMS was driven by Christopher Mies, Charles Putman, Charles Espenlaub, Bryan Sellers and Al Carter. The Paul Miller Racing #48 R8 LMS had Bryce Miller and Benoît Treluyer behind the wheel.
All four cars showed good pace within the GTD class during the test sessions at Sebring.
All four cars showed good pace within the GTD class during the test sessions at Sebring.
The Historic Sportscar Racing series (HSR) held the annual Daytona Historic Races this weekend. One Audi was entered at this event. Travis Engen and his Audi R8 (chassis #606) were entered. His car is prepared and run by GMT Racing.
2.5. Australian Sports Sedans
The Australian Kerrick Sports Sedan Series held its fifth and final round at Sandown Raceway this weekend. The Audi A4 Silhouette of Darren Hossack did well by qualifying second on the grid for both of the races. He finished second in the opening two races and unfortunately did not finish race three.
2.6. Other Audi News
It was a very busy week leading up to the first TUDOR United SportsCar Championship pre-season test at Sebring. Two big announcements were made regarding new Audi Sport customer racing teams. The first announcement came on Monday, when it was revealed that long time Porsche entrants, Flying Lizard Motorsports, are going to be switching to a pair of Audi R8 LMS cars for 2014. They will be fielding the cars in the GT Daytona class (GTD). They had tested an Audi R8 LMS earlier before taking delivery of their two cars last week. The team debuted their cars at the Sebring test days this weekend. Their 2014 driver line-up is yet to be announced. The team’s press release can be seen HERE.
Audi of America [2013 Bob Chapman, Autosport Image]
The second big announcement regarding new Audi Sport customer racing teams came on Wednesday, when Paul Miller Racing were confirmed as another new Audi entrant. Also switching from Porsche, Paul Miller Racing will be fielding one Audi R8 LMS in the GTD category of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship next year. They debuted the car at the Sebring test days. So far Bryce Miller is their only confirmed driver for the 2014 season. The team’s press release can be seen HERE.
Audi of America [2013 Bob Chapman, Autosport Image]
The Sebring TUSC pre-season test days included four Audi R8 LMS cars, two from Flying Lizard Motorsports and one each from Paul Miller Racing and Fall-Line Motorsports. The second and final official TUSC test will be taking place at Daytona on this upcoming Tuesday and Wednesday, 19-20 December. The four cars from Sebring will be joined by another Audi entry at the Daytona test. Audi Sport customer racing will be fielding one Audi R8 LMS driven by Christopher Haase, thus upping the Audi count to five cars at Daytona.
Fall-Line Motorsports announced their driver line-up for the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship on the morning of the first test day at Sebring on Saturday. Their #46 Audi R8 LMS will be entered in the GT Daytona class (GTD) and driven by Charlie Putman and Charles Espenlaub.
Audi debuted a customer race vehicle for the Grand Am Rolex Series in 2012. This vehicle was an Audi R8 LMS race car modified to meet the Grand Am GT class rules. These cars were called the “Audi R8 GRAND-AM” and competed in the series in 2012 and 2013, highlighted by a 1-2 GT class finish at the 2013 Daytona 24 Hours. Since then the ALMS and Grand Am have merged to form the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship for 2014. This new championship includes a class called GT Daytona (GTD), which allows Grand Am GT cars to compete. The Audis are once again able to compete in this championship class, but they will no longer be called the “Audi R8 GRAND-AM,” as they will now officially be called “Audi R8 LMS” cars, which still currently have the same aerodynamic specification as the cars at the end of the 2013 Grand Am season, including the 2013 Audi R8 LMS ultra rear diffuser.
The new home of Audi Sport celebrated its roof-raising ceremony this week. The new Motorsport Competence Center had its ceremony on Wednesday. The new center is located in Neuburg and is part of the Audi Driving Experience Center, which occupies forty-seven acres and includes a permanent circuit. The bulk of Audi Sports’s development and testing will be conducted at the new complex in future, but the engine’s will still come from their facilities in Neckarsulm. Audi Sport will be moving from Ingolstadt to the new complex in Neuburg during the summer of 2014 and they will be joined by Audi Sport customer racing in 2015. Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich and guests were at the ceremony, along with an Audi R18 e-tron quattro and an Audi R8 LMS, which were on display.
The new FIA Formula E Championship will be debuting in September 2014. On Friday an exciting announcement was made by ABT Sportsline. They have become the seventh team to be announced for the new championship. ABT Sportsline will be fielding two cars in the championship, competing under the team name/banner of “Audi Sport ABT Formula-E Team”.
Former Audi factory driver and a current Audi brand ambassador, Emanuelle Pirro, took part in the Scirocco R China Masters Challenge at Macau this weekend. He was driving the #17 Volkswagen Scirocco R. He placed seventh in practice and qualified fifth. He unfortunately retired from the race following an incident involving Alain Menu, both drivers retired due to the damage to their cars.
Last week it was announced that Münnich Motorsport are going to be focussing on their new Audi A3/S3 Supercar for the new 2014 FIA World Rallycross Championship. More details regarding the project emerged this week. Münnich Motorsport will be competing in the new FIA World Rallycross Championship during 2014 and they will be fielding one Audi A3/S3 during their development year. The Audi Supercar will be driven by Rene Münnich. The car has been built and prepared completely in-house by Münnich Motorsport and it will be fielded in the Supercar category of the 2014 FIA World Rallycross Championship. The team will be fielding one of the new Audi vehicles during the first season in order to focus on the car’s development, but the possibility exists for more cars in the future. The car pictured, and which has been seen in testing, is the team's first design prototype, which they will be using for initial testing and development. They are currently busy building a second Audi rallycross car and this is the vehicle that will be used in the championship during 2014. It is said that this new vehicle will differ visually from the current test car, as the current car’s striking bodywork is not completely suited for rallycross competition. This project from Münnich Motorsport is certainly very exciting and it will be great to see an Audi rallycross vehicle entered in the new 2014 FIA World Rallycross Championship.
Mattias Ekström will be returning to the 2013 Race of Champions. Ekström, who is a three-time winner of the event, will be joining fellow factory Audi driver, Tom Kristensen, at the event. The two Audi stars will also be partnered for the ROC Nations Cup, as part of Team Scandinavia. The 2013 Race of Champions will be taking place at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok from 14-15 December.
On Tuesday Audi Sport Italia announced that they would not be competing in the Six Hours of Rome at Vallelunga this weekend. The 2012 edition of the race saw both Audi Sport Italia and WRT competing in the event, but no Audi entries took part this year.
Andre Lotterer took part in the 2013 1000 Millas Sport event in Argentina this week and weekend. He was behind the wheel of his red Audi Sport quattro. It was the twenty-fifth edition of the event and Audi Argentina was the main sponsor.
PK Carsport took part in the general test sessions held at Zolder on Thursday. It was a very wet and rainy day for the teams at Zolder. PK Carsport fielded their 2013 BRCC championship winning #7 Audi R8 LMS at the test. Anthony Kumpen, Frank Beliën, Tom Boonen and Stienes Longin were behind the wheel for the testing. The car was also present at the Belgian Audi and VW Club track day at Zolder during the weekend.
3. Next Weekend’s events (23-24/11/2013)
- FIA GT Series
- Fuji Sprint Cup
- TUSC Daytona Test (Nov 19-20)
- Option Cup
- Aldo Scribante Regionals