Sunday, December 22, 2013

Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (21-22/12/2013)

By Johan Laubscher

1. The Weekend

Focussing on the weekend of 21 - 22 December 2013

2. The Events

  •           TSF Asia All Star Challenge
  •           ETCC

2.1. TSF Asia All Star Challenge

The TSF Asia All Star Challenge was hosted at the Penbay International Circuit in Taiwan this weekend. It was a very strong event for the J-Fly Racing Audi R8 LMS squad.

J-Fly Racing, prepared and run by Absolute Racing, entered four Audis this weekend, three older Audi R8 LMS cars in the GTM class and one Audi R8 LMS ultra in the GT3 class.

The big news this weekend was the addition of Audi Sport factory driver, Rahel Frey, who joined Jeffrey Lee in the #77 J-Fly Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra. The first of the three R8 LMS cars was driven by the 2013 Audi R8 LMS Cup champion, Adderly Fong. The second car had Carlo Van Dam and Benjamin Lee behind the wheel. The third car was driven by Alex Chang and Evan Chen.

The first official practice session was held on Friday afternoon and the Audis topped the times sheets. The #77 Audi R8 LMS ultra of Jeffrey Lee and Rahel Frey set the fastest time within the one minute forty second lap time bracket. It was an Audi 1-2 at the top, as Adderly Fong set the second fastest time with his #068 Audi R8 LMS. The #017 R8 LMS of Carlo Van Dam and Benjamin Lee set the fourth fastest time of the session. The #666 R8 LMS of Alex Chang and Evan Chen did not take part in this session.

Qualifying was scheduled for Saturday afternoon. The qualifying was split into two separate sessions, one each for the two drivers of the cars. The highest Audi during the first session, the Driver A session, was the #068 R8 LMS in fourth. The #77 Audi R8 LMS ultra was fifth fastest, followed by the #017 R8 LMS in seventh and the #666 R8 LMS in ninth.

The second qualifying session, the Driver B session, saw the #77 Audi R8 LMS ultra topping the time sheets. The #666 Audi R8 LMS qualified third, followed by the #017 Audi R8 LMS in fourteenth.

The three races were scheduled for Sunday. One fifty minute GT Master Cup race and two shorter GT Master Challenge races of ten laps each (for each of the two drivers). The aggregate results from the two qualifying sessions were used to determine the starting order for the GT Master Cup. The four Audis started in positions four through seven. The starting order for the J-Fly Racing Audis saw the #068 in fourth, ahead of the #77, #017 and #666.

The fifty minute GT Master Cup was up first on Sunday. The #77 R8 LMS ultra was able to move up to fourth and maintained that position until moving up to third during the closing stages, ensuring a strong podium result for Lee, Frey and the team. Adderly Fong brought his #068 Audi R8 LMS across the line in fourth place. The #017 R8 LMS of Benjamin Lee and Carlo Van Dam finished fifth, rounding out three Audis within the top five. The #666 Audi R8 LMS of Alex Chang and Evan Chen finished twelfth. These results were enough to claim an Audi 1-2 in the GTM class with the #068 winning ahead of the #017.

The second race was the first of two ten lap GT Master Challenge races. The GT Master Challenge AM (Driver B) race was up first. Jeffrey Lee started from pole position in his #77 R8 LMS ultra and led the field to race victory. Alex Chang finished sixth in the #666 R8 LMS, taking victory in the GTM class, and Benjamin Lee finished thirteenth in the #017 R8 LMS. Adderly Fong and the #068 R8 LMS did not take part in the AM race

The third and final race was the GT Master Challenge PRO (Driver A) race. Adderly Fong was the highest Audi qualifier starting in fourth, ahead of Rahel Frey in fifth. Frey was able to progress well during the ten lap race and moved up from fifth to finish in a well deserved second position, ensuring that the #77 J-Fly Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra finished on the podium in all three of the day’s races. Carlo Van Dam piloted the #017 Audi R8 LMS to fourth place, taking the GTM class victory. Adderly Fong finished in sixth place with the #068 R8 LMS and Evan Chen finished tenth with the #666 Audi R8 LMS.

This concluded an exciting day’s racing at the Penbay International Circuit in Taiwan. It was a very strong day for J-Fly Racing and their Audi squad. The #77 Audi R8 LMS ultra finished on the podium in all three of the races and J-Fly Racing also won the GTM class throughout the day as well.

2.2. ETCC

K's Frontier was back in the Japanese European Touring Car Challenge (ETCC) this weekend. It was round thirteen hosted at Fuji Speedway. K's Frontier, Team KRM, entered their ex-GAINER Audi R8 LMS ultra at the event. It was driven by Taiyo Iida in the Super Cars Battle race. They placed second during qualifying and finished the race in second position as well.

2.3. Other Audi News

Allan McNish has announced that he is stepping down from his active career during 2014. His retirement from the FIA World Endurance Championship and the top level of Sports Car Racing came as a surprise announcement on Tuesday. The Scotsman will be retiring at the principle of the sport, as he won the Le Mans 24 Hours this year, along with the LMP1 FIA WEC drivers’ title. The Audi press release can be seen HERE

The 2013 Audi Sport Finale was held on Wednesday evening. The yearend function accommodated over five hundred guests at Audi Forum Ingolstadt. The evening began with a number of speeches followed by awards for the victorious Audi Sport customer racing teams from around the world. A short DTM presentation followed and thereafter the World Premiere of the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro was the climax of the evening. 

The World Premiere of the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro at the Audi Sport Finale was also the occasion where Audi chose to reveal further details about the car’s new technical innovations. The new Audi R18 e-tron quattro features new laser lights accompanying the LED technology. The Audi press release can be seen HERE

Two special highlights were also honoured at the Audi Sport Finale. Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich has celebrated twenty years as the head of Audi Sport and Allan McNish received a special goodbye from Audi Sport at the function.

Brief details regarding the 2014 Audi DTM program were revealed at the Audi Sport Finale on Wednesday. A new updated version of the Audi RS 5 DTM will be fielded during 2014. Mike Rockenfeller will remain with Audi Sport Team Phoenix for his title defence during 2014. A total of eight Audi cars will again be fielded by Audi Sport Team Phoenix, Audi Sport Team Rosberg and Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline. The remaining seven drivers and team allocations will be announced by Audi later.

Audi Sport’s program for the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship will include a three-car team at Le Mans and a two car team for the rest of the 2014 calendar.

As was the case during 2013, Audi is again planning to have special support for the customer teams competing at the Daytona 24 Hours, Spa 24 Hours and the Nürbrugring 24 Hours.

The provisional 2014 Audi R8 LMS Cup calendar has been released. The calendar includes support races for the FIA WEC and DTM rounds in China during 2014. It has also been announced that the Audi R8 LMS Cup grid will be expanding from twenty to twenty-four cars for the 2014 season.

The official Audi Sport Facebook page reached another terrific milestone this week, as they celebrated 500000 fans on Wednesday.

On Friday Audi Sport confirmed three of their 2014 DTM drivers. Timo Scheider, Mattias Ekström and Mike Rockenfeller will be returning to the DTM with Audi in 2014. The Audi press release can be seen HERE

The updated Bathurst 12 Hour entry list was published late on Sunday night last week. The new 55-car list included no less than eight Audi race cars.

A total of seven Audi R8 LMS and ultra cars are currently on the list. Seven cars fielded by five different teams. Phoenix Racing, Absolute Racing, United Autosports and Rotek Racing will each be fielding an Audi R8 LMS ultra. Melbourne Performance Centre will be entering three cars for their customers. This will include the cars of Rod Salmon, Mark Eddy / Marc Cini and Equity-One Motorsport.

Five of the current Audi R8 LMS and ultra entries had previously been included on the entry list. The notable additions are Phoenix Racing, who’s participation was revealed last week, and Rotek Racing, who won the 25 Hours of Thunderhill with their Audi TT RS earlier this month.

The eighth and final car currently listed on the entry list is a second car from Rotek Racing. This entry is listed as an Audi A4. More information about this entry is expected in the coming weeks.

Equity-One Motorsport has announced their driver line-up ahead of the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour. Their Melbourne Performance Centre prepared and run Audi R8 LMS will be driven by Dean Koutsoumidis, Dean Fiore, Dean Grant and Michael Loccisano. They will be competing in Class B. The team tested at Winton on Wednesday.

Audi Sport Italia’s #45 Audi RS 5 quattro will be on permanent display at the headquarters of the Mille Miglia Museum in Brescia. This is the 2013 International and Italian Superstars Championship winning car that was driven by Gianni Morbidelli.

Münnich Motorsport has completed their final testing outing for 2013. The last test of the year was held at Lohéac in France. The team is currently busy preparing for the 2014 FIA World Rallycross Championship. Their first Audi S3/A3 Supercar class rallycross vehicle has been taking part in various test sessions recently. They are also busy building a second primary Audi S3/A3 rallycross car, which will be their competition vehicle next year. It remains very exciting to see this new rallycross car from Münnich Motorsport continuing its development.

A 2007 Audi A4 DTM R13 was seen at Sepang in Malaysia this week. Various testing sessions were held at the circuit and this was one of various different cars taking part. Many of these ex-factory Audi DTM cars have been seen in private hands in recent years. FB page

It has been revealed that YACO Racing will be returning to the 2014 ADAC GT Masters with their Audi R8 LMS ultra.

YACO Racing will again be fielding a single Audi R8 LMS ultra in the 2014 ADAC GT Masters. Their lead driver from 2013, Philip Geipel, has already been confirmed for next year, with the second driver yet to be announced.

The YACO Racing team switched to the Audi Sport customer racing family during 2013 and fielded their one Audi R8 LMS ultra as a regular entry in the ADAC GT Masters. Their R8 LMS ultra was driven by Philip Geipel, who was joined by four different co-drivers during the season. His co-drovers included: Christian Mamerow, Dino Lunardi, Filip Sladecka and Frank Schmickler.

The team also fielded their R8 LMS ultra at the 2013 Slovak Republic Grand Prix (Veľká cena Slovenskej republiky - VCSR). The event was held at the Slovakia Ring in August and Filip Sladecka was behind the wheel of the Audi.

THE BOSS YACO Racing, YACO Racing’s entry name in the 2013 ADAC GT Masters, finished eleventh in the teams' standings and their leading driver, Philip Geipel, placed twenty-ninth within the drivers' standings.

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT has been awarded as the Belgian “Team of the Year 2013” by the Royal Automobile Club de Belgique (RACB). The RACB awards ceremony was held in Brussels on Thursday.

GMG Racing is hard at work preparing for what will be a very busy 2014 season.

The team fielded a number of Audi R8 LMS cars in the Pirelli World Challenge this year and came very close to winning the drivers’ title with James Sofronas.

Thus far it is known that GMG Racing will be returning to the Pirelli World Challenge in 2014 and that they will be fielding a single Audi R8 LMS in the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Daytona class.

The 2014 Pirelli World Challenge will be allowing full GT3 specification machinery and thus GMG Racing are busy upgrading some of their R8 LMS cars to the R8 LMS ultra specification.

The team is also busy preparing their Audi R8 LMS (GTD spec) for the TUSC season opener, the Daytona 24 Hours in January. Their white R8 LMS is the same chassis, now owned by Alex Welch, which won the 2013 Daytona 24 Hours with Alex Job Racing earlier this year.

It is great to see so many new developments happening at GMG Racing and the excitement continues to build for the 2014 season, which will be another great year for the team.

GMG Racing FB page [James Sofronas and Alex Welch]

DragonSpeed is also hard at work preparing their Audi R8 LMS ultra for the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge.

DragonSpeed FB page

Team Novadriver’s #14 Audi R8 LMS ultra is on display at the Audi Expocar stand in Lisbon, Portugal. The car is part of a mini expedition, which will be on display for the Christmas and holiday period.

3. Next Weekend’s events (28-29/12/2013)

-          TBA

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