Sunday, February 9, 2014

Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (8-9/02/2014)

By Johan Laubscher

1. The Weekend

Focussing on the weekend of 8 - 9 February 2014

2. The Events

  •           Bathurst 12 Hour
  •           TCC Winter Challenge
  •           Killarney Passion for Speed

2.1. Bathurst 12 Hour

The 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour proved to be another very exciting race and concluded with three Audi R8 LMS ultra cars within the overall top ten.

Six Audis were entered in the event. Four of the six Audis were entered in Class A GT3 Outright, a class for the newer GT3 machinery. The two remaining Audis were in Class B GT3, for older GT3 cars.

Four Audi R8 LMS ultra cars were taking part in Class A. Phoenix Racing fielded the only 2013 specification Audi R8 LMS ultra in the race. Three 2012 specification cars were fielded by United Autosports (x1) and Melbourne Performance Centre (x2). MPC fielded the cars for their customers: Rod Salmon and Mark Eddy / Marc Cini.

Phoenix Racing entrusted their #3 R8 LMS ultra to Rahel Frey, René Rast and Laurens Vanthoor. United Autosports had Markus Winkelhock, Mark Patterson and Eric Lux behind the wheel of their #25 R8 LMS ultra. Melbourne Performance Centre’s two Audi R8 LMS ultra cars saw Mark Eddy, Marc Cini and Christopher Mies in the #9 Audi, and Rod Salmon, Warren Luff, Jason Bright and Liam Talbot in the #5 Audi.

Class B saw the participation of two older 2011 specification Audi R8 LMS cars. Rotek Racing (Peter Conroy Motorsport) ran with a R8 LMS for the first time and they were joined by Equity-One Motorsport (MPC) and their R8 LMS. Rotek Racing’s driver line-up included Oliver Gavin, Rob Huff, Richard Meins and Kevin Gleason, and Equity-One Motorsport with Dean Koutsoumidis, Dean Fiore, Dean Grant and Michael Loccisano.

Proceedings kicked off with four practice sessions on Thursday and three qualifying sessions on Friday. The first qualifying session was overshadowed by two red flag periods, one of which was caused by the #5 MPC Audi R8 LMS ultra. Jason Bright suffered a heavy crash and the car was withdrawn from the weekend. Fortunately Jason Bright was unharmed and has been cleared from the hospital. He stated via his official Facebook page: “Gutted for the rest of the Sqwirk team. @WazzaLuff , Rod Salmon, Liam Talbot and the guys at Melbourne Performance Centre.” The #5 Audi R8 LMS ultra of Rod Salmon, Warren Luff, Jason Bright and Liam Talbot did not take part in the race due to the sustained damage of the car, despite qualifying thirty-first with their lap time before the crash during the session.

The final combined qualifying results were highlighted by an Audi one-two in Class B. Rotek Racing (Peter Conroy Motorsport) took pole position and fourteenth overall with the #14 R8 LMS. Equity-One Motorsport took second position in Class B and fifteenth overall with the #71 R8 LMS.

The remaining three Audi R8 LMS ultra cars (Class A) all placed within the overall top ten, in positions seven through nine. The leading Audi on the grid was the #9 MPC Audi, ahead of the #3 Phoenix Racing R8 LMS ultra and the #25 United Autosports R8 LMS ultra in ninth.

An early morning 06:15 start greeted the teams on for a very exciting race on Sunday morning. The five Audi R8 LMS and ultra cars ran well and began moving forward through the field. A number of issues then began dropping the Audi runners back during the long twelve hour race. Phoenix Racing emerged as the highest Audi runner, running in the top half of the top ten, followed by the Audi R8 LMS ultra cars from MPC and United Autosports in the lower half.

Both of the front running Class B Audis suffered technical issues. Rotek Racing retired and Equity-One Motorsport were forced to slow their pace and nurse the car home, finishing sixth in class and fourteenth overall.

The Class A Audis soldiered on to the end and all three finished within the top ten. Phoenix Racing finished fifth after a safety car period during the closing stages. They finished ahead of United Autosports in sixth and Melbourne Performance Centre (#9) in tenth.

Jarryd98 on twitter [Jarryd Bermingham]

2.2 TCC Winter Challenge

Round three of the TCC Winter Challenge was held at the Ascari Race Resort in Spain. Vulkan Racing - Team Mintgen Motorsport were present with their Viper and their newly acquired Audi R8 LMS ultra. The Audi is the ex-Phoenix Racing car that was driven by the Stuck family during the 2013 VLN season and at the 2013 Nürburgring 24 Hours.


2.3. Killarney Passion for Speed

The second Passion for Speed meeting was held at Killarney in Cape Town this weekend, following the first event at Zwartskops in Pretoria last weekend. Two ex-class A national Audi A4 cars took part in the Extreme Supercars class. Mark du Toit was behind the wheel of the ex-Terry Moss Racing Audi A4 and Nieyaaz Modack was driving the ex-Johan Fourie Racing Audi A4.

2.4. Other Audi News

Audi Sport announced their 2014 LMP driver line-up on Monday. Two Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars from Audi Sport Team Joest will be entering the full 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship season. Audi Sport Team Joest will be entering a third R18 e-tron quattro (Audi #3) at two of the FIA WEC events, the 6 Hours of Spa and the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Audi #1: Lucas di Grassi, Loïc Duval and Tom Kristensen
Audi #2: Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer
Audi #3: Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and Oliver Jarvis

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, reigning champions in the Pro Cup drivers’ and teams’ championship of the FIA GT Series and the runners-up in the Blancpain Endurance Series, will be entering the Blancpain GT Series with up to four cars.

The new Blancpain GT Series is a combination of the Blancpain Endurance Series and the Blancpain Sprint Series, for teams who are able to commit to both individual series.

The team will be entering four cars in the Blancpain Sprint Series and three cars in the Blancpain Endurance Series, with an additional fourth car at the Spa 24 Hours. Three of their four cars will then be in the running for the combined Blancpain GT Series title.

Sébastien Loeb Racing recently announced their switch to Audi R8 LMS ultra cars for 2014. The first part of their 2014 GT program was announced this week. The first of their two-part program includes a two-car entry in the 2014 FFSA GT Tour in France. Their full GT program and driver line-ups will be announced later.

The 2014 Pirelli World Challenge is shaping up to be a great season to look forward to. Multiple Audi cars will be taking part in a number of the different classes. GMG Racing will once again be out in force with an army of Audi R8 LMS cars, also adding the Audi R8 LMS ultra to their line-up this year.

GMG Racing were at The Thermal Club this week, testing two of their recently updated to Audi R8 LMS ultra specification cars. The current season entry list includes five Audi R8 LMS and ultra entries from GMG Racing, with James Sofronas in GT and Andrew Palmer, Bret Curtis, Brent Holden and Bill Ziegler in GT-A.

The two cars that GMG Racing had at the test were two 2012/2013 specification Audi R8 LMS ultra cars, driven by James Sofronas and Andrew Palmer. The cars featured the 2013 specification bodywork and rear wing, but were still fitted with the 2012 rear view mirrors.

The 2014 Pirelli World Challenge season kicks off at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March.

Rod Salmon’s new 2014 livery was revealed ahead of the Bathurst 12 Hour this week. His Melbourne Performance Centre run Audi R8 LMS ultra now features a blue Skwirk livery.

The Pirelli World Challenge revealed an initial entry list for 2014 and it includes a number of Audi entries. The GT class includes two Audi R8 LMS ultra cars, one each from GMG Racing (James Sofronas) and DragonSpeed (TBA). The GT-A class has a total of five Audi R8 LMS and ultra cars. GMG Racing will be fielding four of the cars with drivers Andrew Palmer, Bret Curtis, Brent Holden and Bill Ziegler. The fifth entry is from JCR Motorsports with Jeff Courtney. RS Werkes Racing (Istook’s Motorsport) will be entering three cars, their two Audi TT RS cars (Don Istook and Colin Cohen) in GTS and an Audi A3 TDI in TCA (TBA).

3. Next Weekend’s events (15-16/02/2014)

  •           HSR
  •           GT Winter Series (Test)

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