By Johan Laubscher
The French GT Tour saw a number of Audi R8 LMS and ultra entries during 2013. Saintéloc Racing and Team Speed Car both fielded multiple cars during the season, which was highlighted by a number of Audi race victories.
The season review has been compiled from the 2013 Audi Motorsport Blog Weekend Round Up posts. Each round has been added as was seen in the individual Weekend Round Up posts during 2013, which can be accessed via the links throughout the review below:
The French GT-Tour got underway at Le Mans this weekend. The series competed on the permanent Bugatti circuit. Four Audi R8 LMS ultra cars (all in 2013 specification) took part, three from Saintéloc and one from Team Speed Car. The cars performed well with a fourth in the first race and seventh in the second race. The top placed Audi in both races was the #42 of David Halliday and Gregory Guilvert.
Round 2: Imola
The French GT-Tour held its second round at Imola, a support event for the ELMS. Four Audi R8 LMS ultra cars took part in what turned out to be a very difficult weekend for the Audi teams. The highest Audi finisher this weekend was the Sainteloc entry who finished ninth during race one, this was the only Audi top ten finish this weekend.
The French GT-Tour was in Belgium, running round three at Spa. It was a weekend to remember for the Team Speed Car squad, as they claimed pole position and a dominant race one victory, with Vincent Abril and Dino Lunardi behind the wheel of the #36 Audi R8 LMS ultra. Only two Audis placed within the top ten during race one. The Team Speed Car squad was in top form again during race two, as they recovered to another podium finish, this time in third place.
The French GT-Tour was at Val de Vienne this weekend, with four Audi R8 LMS ultra cars on the grid. Qualifying saw good results for the Audis, two within the top three for race one, and also a third for the race two grid. During the first race the highest Audi was the #42 Sainteloc car which was battling for third, and ultimately finished fourth, the only Audi inside the top ten. Two Audis entered the top ten during race two, with the #42 as the highest Audi once again, finishing in sixth, ahead of the Team Speed Car Audi in seventh.
French GT Tour headed to Magny-Cours for round five this weekend. Four Audi R8 LMS ultra cars were originally entered for the races, three from Sainteloc and one from Team Speed Car. The majority of the Audis were running in the 2012 specification, to take advantage of the improved performance within the current BoP regulations. A second Audi R8 LMS from Team Speed Car was also present, but it was only intended to take part in the sessions for testing. However, Team Speed Car's #007 Aston Martin blew its engine, thus the team used their second Audi R8 LMS to replace that car. Qualifying yielded a race one pole position for the #42 Sainteloc Audi, leading two Audis within the top ten. Three Audis qualified within the top five for race two. The first race finished with Team Speed Car taking a sensational win, their second victory of the season, leading home three Audis within the top ten. Race two saw Team Speed Car taking victory once again, leading home an Audi 1-2 finish, with Sainteloc finishing second with the #42 car. Three Audis placed within the top ten during race two.
Lédenon played host to the sixth and penultimate French GT-Tour round. Five Audi cars were entered this weekend: Sainteloc entered three Audi R8 LMS ultra cars, along with Team Speed Car entering two cars, one Audi R8 LMS ultra and one older R8 LMS. Sainteloc suffered a hard crash with their lead car during the sessions, resulting that their #42 car was out for the remainder of the weekend. Team Speed Car was the only Audi within the top ten during the first qualifying session, their #36 R8 LMS ultra qualified sixth. Qualifying for race two saw the #82 Sainteloc entry taking third on the grid. The first race concluded with the #36 Team Speed Car Audi R8 LMS ultra finishing in ninth, the only Audi within the top ten. The second race again only saw one Audi within the top, the #36 Audi which finished sixth.
Paul Ricard played host to the French GT Tour finale this weekend. A total of six Audi cars were entered. Sainteloc entered four Audi R8 LMS ultra cars and Team Speed Car entered one R8 LMS ultra and one older R8 LMS. The fourth Sainteloc car was the #43 Audi R8 LMS ultra, a once-off entry which included Stephane Ortelli as one of the drivers. The #009 Team Speed Car R8 LMS was on site, but did not take part. Qualifying for the first race only had one Audi within the top ten, with the #43 Sainteloc car placing tenth. The grid for race two saw two Audis within the top ten, as the #43 and #82 Sainteloc cars qualified ninth and tenth respectively. The first race got underway on Saturday and concluded with Team Speed Car as the highest Audi in fourth with their #36 Audi R8 LMS ultra. Two Audis made it into the top ten, as the #82 Sainteloc car finished eighth. The second and final race was very hard for the Audi teams. Only four cars started the race, as the #42 Sainteloc car did not take part. Only one of the four cars finished the race. The #83 Sainteloc Audi R8 LMS ultra finished twenty-first, whilst all three of the remaining cars retired.
Photo credit: GT Tour