Sunday, December 8, 2013

Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (7-8/12/2013)

By Johan Laubscher

1. The Weekend

Focussing on the weekend of 7 - 8 December 2013

2. The Events

  •           25 Hours of Thunderhill
  •           HSR

2.1. 25 Hours of Thunderhill

The Thunderhill 25 Hours took place at Thunderhill Raceway this weekend. Two Audi Sport customer racing teams were entered for the event, which saw ups and downs for both teams during the very cold and eventful twenty-five hours.

GMG Racing entered their #08 Audi R8 LMS. This was the team’s only entry despite two cars from GMG Racing being listed on the original entry list. Rotek Racing was the second Audi Sport customer racing team to enter the event. They entered their #24 Audi TT RS (VLN SP4T), the same car that the team used for the 2013 VLN Endurance Series in Germany.

A seven and a half hour testing session got proceedings underway on Thursday. This was followed by another test session of equal length on Friday and a practice/qualifying session later in the evening.

Rotek Racing was able to show very good pace with their TT RS during testing and they backed that up with a 1:49.152 lap during qualifying. They overcame a damaged ECU on Thursday and worked through the night to repair the unit for Friday. Their qualifying lap was enough for a ninth place overall starting position, the highest of the two Audis on the grid. The #24 Audi TT RS was driven by Robb Holland, Roland Pritzker, Jeff Altenburg, Rob Huff and Kevin Gleason. Rotek Racing was supported by 034 Motorsport, the team who entered this very same car at this event in 2012.

The GMG Racing team showed good pace during the first testing session on Thursday, but Friday was not their day. GMG Racing had an accident during the Friday morning testing session. Drew Regitz was behind the wheel and the #08 R8 LMS suffered damage to its left side and rear corner, fortunately the driver was unharmed. The team missed qualifying later on Friday evening and they worked very hard to repair the car for the race. The team’s entered drivers for the #08 Audi R8 LMS included James Sofronas, Alex Welch, Alexandra Sabados, Michael McGrath and Drew Regitz.

The race itself began at 11:00 am (local time) in very cold conditions on Saturday morning. 2012 WTCC champion, Rob Huff, was behind the wheel of the Rotek Racing Audi TT RS and he quickly moved through the field. The TT RS and its good fuel consumption saw it moving from ninth into the lead during the first pitstop cycles. GMG Racing started from the back of the field and quickly progressed into the top twenty and later into the top ten. The race continued with the GMG Racing continuing to move forward and Rotek Racing remained in the lead battle.

GMG Racing unfortunately encountered a long penalty and battery related charging issues, which cost them quite a bit of time during the opening hours. The GMG Racing R8 LMS then began a very good recovery drive and they were inside of the top ten by the half-way mark and soon moved up into the top five. Rotek Racing had steadily remained in the lead battle and moved up to and maintained second position by half way.

The early morning hours saw the Rotek Racing TT RS moving between second and third as the rhythm of the race was playing out between the front runners. The TT RS was up against competitors with fuel consumption and pace advantages, but despite this the TT RS remained within the top three battle. Behind the top three the GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS squad had revered up to fourth position, but they were many laps behind third place. 

With eight hours to go one of the top three runners, the very fast Wolf vehicle, dropped back and this meant that the Rotek Racing TT RS moved into a more comfortable second position. A confusing period then arose with seven hours remaining. Rotek Racing received a time penalty at the same time that the race leading #03 Superlite SLC vehicle retired with damaged steering. Rotek Racing then moved into the lead of the race. At the same time the GMG Racing R8 LMS lost a lot of time and dropped from fourth to sixth.

The race then saw the Rotek Racing TT RS leading, whilst the second placed Wolf prototype was hunting them down at a much faster pace, with a sixteen lap gap between them. Unfortunately the Wolf vehicle retired with engine failure just before sunrise and Rotek Racing had a twenty-four lap advantage over the third placed #83 Porsche. Some time later the #83 Porsche also suffered problems and the order behind the leading Rotek Racing TT RS then became the #38 Radical SR3 in second ahead of the #83 Porsche and the GMG Racing R8 LMS, both of whom were hunting down the Radical. 

James Sofronas was behind the wheel of the GMG Racing R8 LMS and he was flying on track. A tremendous battle for second position developed between the #08 R8 LMS and the #83 Porsche, after they both had gotten past the Radical. The R8 LMS moved into second position for an Audi 1-2, but unfortunately they lost the position and dropped to third during the final two hours.

The Rotek Racing crew maintained their lead and consistent pace and this was enough to ensure overall victory with a twenty-eight lap advantage. This was the first victory for an Audi at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. GMG Racing continued to circulate, but lady luck deserted them during the final twenty minutes and they lost third position overall with a gearbox problem in the pits. They ultimately retired from the race and were classified fourth overall, third within the ES class. The GMG Racing team worked together and pushed their Audi R8 LMS across the line in pitlane at the finish of the race.

It was a great showing from the two Audi Sport customer racing teams this weekend. Rotek Racing took the race win and avenged the race from 2012, when 034 Motorsport was running this very same car and unfortunately retired, whilst leading the race during the night last year. GMG Racing also had a terrific showing as the team never gave up, repairing the car overnight on Friday and soldiering through the race on Saturday and Sunday, narrowly missing a podium finish in the end.

2.2. HSR

The Sebring Historic Races were held at Sebring this weekend. The event was hosted by the HSR - Historic SportsCar Racing Series. One Audi was on the entry list, the #2 Audi R8 (#606), which is owned and driven by Travis Engen. His Audi R8 is prepared and run by GMT Racing.

2.3. Other Audi News

Audi Sport’s 2014 LMP1 challenger was revealed on Sunday. The reveal was done via a single photo on the official Audi Sport Facebook page, as per their announcement last week Sunday. This was the first full clear image of the new 2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro. It was also announced that the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro started testing at Sebring on Sunday. The Audi press release can be seen HERE.

The big reveal of Audi Sport’s 2014 LMP1 challenger may have been on Sunday, but they did provide a small taste of the new car on Monday of this week. Audi has achieved a very successful 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship season. They won the Le Mans 24 Hours and took both of the FIA WEC LMP1 titles, manufacturers’ and drivers’. A brand new season highlights video from Audi was released on Monday, documenting the 2013 season from Audi’s perspective. The big highlight was that the end of the video included a tiny glimpse of the 2014 LMP1 challenger from Audi. The video can be seen HERE

The FIA Prize-Giving was held in Paris on Friday. Audi was officially awarded as the FIA WEC LMP1 manufacturers’ champions and the #2 Audi crew of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loïc Duval as the 2013 drivers’ champions. An Audi R18 e-tron quattro (long-tail) was on the stage together with the three drivers from the #2 Audi squad and Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.

The first official 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship entry list was released on Friday. No less than five Audi R8 LMS cars have been selected and included on the list.

The five Audi R8 LMS cars, entered from four different teams, comes as no surprise, but it is great to see all four of the Audi teams mentioned in recent weeks all making it onto the selected official entry list.

Fall-Line Motorsports (x1), Flying Lizard Motorsports (x2), Paul Miller Racing (x1) and GMG Racing (x1) have all been accepted as entries for the 2014 TUSC season. Also worth noting is that all four teams, including all five cars, have been listed as full season competitors. The five Audi R8 LMS cars will be joining a current GT Daytona (GTD) field of twenty-one teams and twenty-eight race cars.

The Audi display at the Design Miami/ event included a special homage to Audi Sport this week. Two Audi R8 vehicles were on the stand, an Audi R8 V10 Spyder and a 2013 Audi R8 LMS ultra. The stand also included special red Audi Sport logos.

The 2013 Race of Champions was scheduled to take place at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok from 14-15 December, next weekend. During this past week it was announced that the event has been cancelled. The cancellation is due to the current political situation in Bangkok.

The 2014 DTM calendar was confirmed by the FIA this week.

4th May - Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg
18th May - etropolis Motorsport Arena Oschersleben
1st June - Hungaroring Budapest
29th June - Norisring
13th July - Moscow Raceway
3rd August - Red Bull Ring Spielberg
17th August - Nürburgring
14th September - Lausitzring
28th September - Guangzhou
19th October - Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg

The 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship also had its calendar confirmed this week. The FIA WEC will also be implementing a new Equivalence of Technology (EoT) system to balance the performance of the various LMP1 manufacturers. The FIA press release can be seen HERE

20/04 - 6 Hours of Silverstone
03/05 - 6 Heures de Spa-Francorchamps
14-15/06 - 24 Heures du Mans
31/08 - 6 Hours of Sao Paulo
20/09 - 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas
12/10 - 6 Hours of Fuji
01/11 - 6 Hours of Shanghai
15/11 - 6 Hours of Bahrain

The Pirelli World Challenge hosted a tyre test session at the Circuit of The Americas this weekend. DragonSpeed took part with their Audi R8 LMS ultra.

Over twenty-five of the Pirelli World Challenge teams took part in the tyre test. DragonSpeed were present with two cars, their R8 LMS ultra and their new Ferrari 458 Italia GT3.

DragonSpeed debuted their Audi R8 LMS ultra in World Challenge at the Sonoma round of the championship this year and they are currently also preparing for the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge season. The team’s Audi R8 LMS ultra is also entered for the Gulf 12 Hours, which will be taking place on December 13 at the Yas Marina Circuit in the United Arab Emirates.

Gran Turismo 6 was launched in Ronda, Spain, this week. It was a two-day event and an Audi R8 LMS ultra was part of the display. Laurens Vanthoor was also present at the launch of the new PlayStation 3 console game.

Gran Turismo website

One of Audi Sport Italia’s Audi R8 LMS ultra race cars was on display at the Piazza Affari with Sesto Autoveicoli this week.

3. Next Weekend’s events (14-15/12/2013)

  •           Gulf 12 Hours (13 Dec)

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