Sunday, March 2, 2014

Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (1-2/03/2014)

By Johan Laubscher

1. The Weekend

Focussing on the weekend of 1 - 2 March 2014

2. The Events

  •           South African Production Cars
  •           Super GT Suzuka test days
  •           Super Taikyu
  •           SVRA
  •           Carrera Cup (RCCO)

2.1. South African Production Cars

The 2014 South African Bridgestone Production Cars Championship got underway at Zwartkops this weekend. Four Audi S4 cars were fielded by two different teams. The cars showed well during practice and pole position went to the Audi squad.

Terry Moss Racing is back with their two-car Audi S4 Engen Xtreme team. Reigning three-time Class A champion, Michael Stephen, is racing alongside his new teammate, Simon Moss.

The new look to the Audi squad is Sasolracing, who is sponsoring two Audi S4 cars prepared by VM Innovations. Gennaro Bonafede and Hennie Groenewald are behind the wheel of the two Audi Sasolracing S4s.

The first of three practice sessions got the ball rolling early on Friday morning. The first session concluded with the two ADF Motorsport BMW 335i cars of Johan Fourie and Gavin Cronje topping the time sheets. The Audi squad was headed by Gennaro Bonafede in third, ahead of Hennie Groenewald, Michael Stephen and Simon Moss.

The second session saw the two Audi Sasolracing Audi S4 cars jumping to the top, with Hennie Groenewald leading Gennaro Bonafede. Johan Fourie was third fastest in his BMW, ahead of Michael Stephen's S4, Gavin Cronje's BMW and Simon Moss' S4.

The third and final session was again headed by an Audi S4, that of reigning champion, Michael Stephen. He was followed by Gavin Cronje's BMW, the Audi Sasolracing duo of Bonafede and Groenewald, Simon Moss' S4 and Johan Fourie's BMW.

Qualifying concluded the track running on Friday. The qualifying session was dominated by Audi Sasolracing. Hennie Groenewald took pole position on his debut in the Audi S4. He qualified ahead of his teammate, Gennaro Bonafede. Gavin Cronje qualified third, ahead of Michael Stephen, Johan Fourie and Simon Moss. The entire Class A field was separated by less than 0.8 seconds.

Race day saw a warm up session and two races on Saturday. The first race got underway with overcast weather in Pretoria during the afternoon. The two Audi Sasolracing Audi S4s lead the way to a dominant one-two victory, a tremendous result for the newly sponsored team on their debut. Hennie Groenewald took the first win of the year ahead of teammate, Gennaro Bonafede.

Third place was taken by Johan Fourie in the ADF Motorsport BMW 335i, ahead of the two Terry Moss Racing Audi S4 cars. Reigning champion, Michael Stephen, finished fourth, right ahead of this new teammate, Simon Moss. Gavin Cronje rounded out the Class A field by placing sixth in the second ADF Motorsport BMW.

The second and final race took place later on Saturday afternoon. It was a case of wet quattro weather and the scene for yet another Class A Audi victory. The reverse grid saw Gavin Cronje starting on pole, ahead of the two Terry Moss Racing Audi S4 cars of Simon Moss and Michael Stephen. Johan Fourie's BMW lined up fourth, followed by the race one winning Audi Sasolracing duo of Gennaro Bonafede and Hennie Groenewald.

By the end of the second race it was a quartet of Audis at the top of Class A. Reigning champion, Michael Stephen, lead home the Audi squad. Gennaro Bonafede finished second in the race and took the overall win for the day. Hennie Groenewald finished third, ahead of Simon Moss in fourth.

The next round of the South African Bridgestone Production Cars Championship will be taking place at Killarney in Cape Town, 29 March. [Paul Bedford]

2.2. Super GT Suzuka test days

Official Japanese Super GT test days were held at Suzuka on Thursday and Friday this week. Audi Sport Team Hitotsuyama was present with one Audi R8 LMS ultra and performed very well amongst the GT300 competitors.

Audi Sport Team Hitotsuyama’s one all-black carbon-fiber #21 Audi R8 LMS ultra was driven by Richard Lyons and Tomonobu Fujii.

Two test sessions were held on Thursday and Friday. Audi Sport Team Hitotsuyama topped the first session during the morning, setting the fastest time within the GT300 class, a lap time of 2:09.842. The team did not take part in the second session during Thursday afternoon.

Friday saw the final day of testing at Suzuka. Audi Sport Team Hitotsuyama again set the fastest time within GT300 during the morning session, setting a lap time of 2:00.558.

The final session on Friday saw the Audi R8 LMS ultra as the fourth fastest GT300 runner with a lap time of 2'00"853, versus the fastest time of 1:59.870, set by the #55 ARTA Mugen CR-Z GT.

The Japanese Super GT season will be getting underway at Okayama, 5-6 April.

2.3. Super Taikyu

Suzuka hosted the “Motorsport Fans Appreciation Day” this weekend. A number of displays and exciting events were on hand for the fans, including special Super Taikyu track events. Nova Engineering, Team Nova, entered their #8 Audi R8 LMS ultra.

The Super Taikyu hosted three events at Suzuka this Weekend, two demonstration races and one test session. The test session got underway early on Saturday morning. Saturday's proceedings were concluded with a nighttime demonstration race, with the twenty-car strong grid taking part. The second demonstration race was held on Sunday morning.

Team Nova’s #8 Audi R8 LMS ultra was driven by Seiji Ara, who also drove the car during the 2013 Super Taikyu season.

The Super Taikyu also revealed the provisional 2014 season entry list this weekend. So far the list includes one Audi, the Audi R8 LMS ultra of K's Frontier.

The 2014 Super Taikyu season gets underway with an official test day at Twin Ring Motegi on 9 March, followed by the venue hosting round one of the series from 29-30 March.

2.4. SVRA

The 2014 Spring Vintage Classic was hosted at Sebring this weekend. The SVRA historic racing event saw the participation of two Audi race cars. Travis Engen’s GMT Racing run Audi R8 LMP (#606) was out on track and also an ex-Champion Racing Audi S4 Competition driven by Mike Fisher.

2.5. Carrera Cup (RCCO)

The 2014 rallye racing Carrera Cup (RCCO) Slotcar Championship got underway on Wednesday. The series hosted the "20 minutes of Hamburg" at the PROTOTYP Museum in Hamburg.

Audi Team tv racing entered two Audi R8 LMS slotcars. It was the debut for the new GTD version of the Audi R8 LMS in the Carrera Cup. The defending champions squad was headed by the #1 Schaeffler Audi R8 LMS with Thomas Voigt and Jan Hennen. Their teammates, Martin Kummerow and Felipe Fénandez Laser, were behind the controls of the #77 Speedpool R8 LMS.

The liveries of the Audi Team tv racing R8 LMS cars were designed by

A selection of Audi R8 Cup cars also took part in the event.

During practice the #1 R8 LMS was fourth fastest and the #77 eleventh. Qualifying saw pole position going to the #3 Joest Racing Bentley. Voigt and Hennen qualified sixth, ahead of Laser and Kummerow in eighth.

The race itself finished with the #1 R8 LMS of Voigt and Hennen finishing second, behind the race winning Joest Racing Bentley of Eldert Hedden und Volker Paulun. It was a thrilling finale to the evening.

It was a very exciting evening of racing and the series will be hosting round two in a few weeks time, at SRC Hanse Racing Hamburg e.V. in HH-Harburg on 26 March.

2.6. Other Audi News

Sébastien Loeb Racing received their Audi R8 LMS ultra cars on Tuesday this week.

They are one of the newest Audi Sport customer racing teams for 2014 and will be competing with a two-car team in the French GT Tour and a single car entry in the European Le Mans Series.

The new PK Carsport Audi R8 LMS livery was revealed on Thursday. The team will be competing in the 2014 Belgian Racing Car Championship (BRCC).

The #1 Audi R8 LMS will be driven by reigning BRCC endurance champions, Anthony Kumpen and Bert Longin. They will be joined by Frank Beliën.

The new PK Carsport livery was designed by

ABT Sportsline will be competing in the 2014 FIA Formula E Championship, with the team name of Audi Sport ABT Formula-E Team. Their red Formula E car will be on display at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.

The ABT Sportsline Formula E drivers were recently announced as Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt.

The 2014 Geneva Motor Show will be held from 6-16 March.

DragonSpeed is hard at work preparing for the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge. The team was out testing at Sebring on Wednesday this week.

They will be running a three-car team in the PWC this season, including two Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 cars and their 2012 Audi R8 LMS ultra.

Elton Julian will be driving the #65 DragonSpeed Audi R8 LMS ultra in the GT-A class.

All three of their cars were out testing at Sebring on Wednesday, including Julian in the Audi and the Ferraris of Mike Hedlund and Henrik Hedman.

The first round of the PWC will be held at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, from 28-30 March.

Six Audi R8 LMS and ultra cars will be taking part in the first round of the Pirelli World Challenge. GMG Racing will be fielding four cars and JCR Motorsports and DragonSpeed will each be fielding one car.

Two Audi R8 LMS ultra cars will be seen in the GT class, James Sofronas in the #14 GMG Racing Audi and Elton Julian in the #65 DragonSpeed R8 LMS ultra.

The four remaining Audi R8 LMS and ultra cars will be seen in the GT-A class, with #21 Andrew Palmer (GMG Racing), #32 Bret Curtis (GMG Racing), #95 Bill Ziegler (GMG Racing) and #99 Jeff Courtney (JCR Motorsports).

RS Werkes Racing will also be fielding the #01 TT RS for Don Istook in the GTS class.

The first round of the PWC will be held at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, from 28-30 March.

LMS Engineering will be fielding two Audi TT RS cars in the VLN Endurance Championship this year.

Their second Audi TT RS has arrived at the LMS Engineering workshop and it will also be converted to the two litre version of the TT RS five cylinder power plant, allowing it to compete in the SP3T class. The new engine debuted with the LMS Engineering team last year, when they won the SP3T class on their debut with the new 2.0 SP3T class TT RS.

LMS Engineering is also busy preparing their primary TT RS for the 12H Italy-Mugello, which will be held from 14-15 March.

The VLN test day will be taking place from 21-22 March and the opening round of the season a week later on 29 March.

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT announced their 2014 plans and driver line-up on Thursday. The team will be entering up to four cars within the Blancpain GT Series and taking part in two 24 Hour races.

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.

WRT will be joined by G-Drive Racing during 2014, with a G-Drive car fielded in the Blancpain Sprint Series and the Nürburgring 24 Hours.

WRT will also be fielding an Audi R8 LMS ultra in the V de V Endurance Series in France, for drivers Harry Teneketzian and Gregroire Chaix.

Blancpain Endurance Series
#1   Laurens Vanthoor – Marc Basseng – César Ramos
#3   Christopher Mies – Frank Stippler – James Nash
#4   Yves Weerts – Jean-Luc Blanchemain – Christian Kelders

Total 24 Hours of Spa
#1   TBA
#2   TBA
#3   Christopher Mies – Frank Stippler – James Nash
#4   Yves Weerts – Jean-Luc Blanchemain – Christian Kelders

Blancpain Sprint Series
#1   Laurens Vanthoor – César Ramos
#2   René Rast (D) – Enzo Ide (B)
#3   Roman Rusinov – Stéphane Ortelli (G-Drive Racing)
#4   Vincent Abril – Mateusz Lisowski (Silver Cup)

Nürburgring 24 Hours
Stéphane Ortelli – Edward Sandström – Roman Rusinov – TBA

Audi Sport Italia has revealed the first driver of their 2014 EuroV8 Series campaign. Tomáš Kostka will be joining the Italian squad in an Audi RS 5 quattro.

The EuroV8 Series is a new Italian based series, which replaces the Superstars Series for 2014.

Audi Sport Italia’s Audi RS 5 quattro cars, that have dominated the previous two Superstars Series seasons, will again be out on track this year.

The team recently completed the build of their fourth Audi RS 5 quattro race car.

One of these four cars will be entrusted to Tomáš Kostka from the Czech Republic, who will be joining Audi Sport Italia for the six round EuroV8 Series calendar.

Tomáš Kostka is no stranger to Audi race cars, as he has been in a variety of Audi A4 DTM cars since 2007. His highlight with Audi was when he competed in the 2009 DTM season, driving the #20 Audi A4 DTM R13 (2007) entered by Kolles Futurecom-BRT.

He also drove for the Bohemia Racing Team (BRT) in the Czech National Championship from 2007-2009 and 2012, competing in various Audi A4 DTM cars: R11 (2004), R12 (2005) and R13 (2007).

More Audi Sport Italia drivers for the EuroV8 Series are expected to be announced soon. The 2014 EuroV8 Series will be getting underway at Monza, 6 April 2014.

The preliminary entry list for the 2014 Super Taikyu season was released on Friday. So far one Audi team has been entered in the ST-X (GT3) class.

K's Frontier / Direction Racing will be entering their #32 Audi R8 LMS ultra. This is the ex-GAINER DIXCEL R8 LMS ultra that was used in the 2012 Super GT. K's Frontier acquired and entered the car in two Japanese European Touring Car Challenge (ETCC) races last year, when they evaluated the car for use in the 2014 Super Taikyu.

Team Nova Engineering took part in the bulk of the 2013 Super Taikyu and also took part in the Super Taikyu demonstration race at Suzuka this weekend, but they are not currently listed as 2014 season entrants.

The preliminary season entry list can be seen HERE

The 2014 Super T aikyu season gets underway with an official test day at Twin Ring Motegi on 9 March, followed by the venue hosting round one of the series from 29-30 March.

Rob Austin Racing took part in more BTCC testing this week. They were seen on track at Brands Hatch on Thursday. Rob Austin was behind the wheel of the all-black Audi A4 NGTC.

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is currently busy preparing for the 2014 Blancpain GT Series, wherein they will be fielding up to four cars.

The team recently revealed that they will be running four cars within the Blancpain Sprint Series and three within the Blancpain Endurance Series, thus also having three cars in the running for the overall Blancpain GT Series. They will also enter a fourth additional car at the 24 Hours of Spa.

The WRT squad will be joined by Roman Rusinov and G-Drive Racing for 2014. WRT will be providing technical support for G-Drive Racing and an Audi R8 LMS ultra driven by Roman Rusinov and Stéphane Ortelli.

The team was out testing at Nogaro in France this week. They had two Audi R8 LMS ultra cars at the test. website [Oliver Whisker]

Sasolracing revealed their new 2014 Audi S4 liveries on Thursday. The cars of Hennie Groenewald and Gennaro Bonafede were on display at a Sasol fuel station ahead of the first round of the South African Bridgestone Production Cars Championship at Zwartkops this weekend.

Absolute Racing is busy preparing for the 2014 GT Asia Series. The team was out testing with two Audi R8 LMS ultra cars at Sepang this weekend.

The two all-black R8 LMS ultra cars at the test were listed with drivers Philip Ma / Alex Yoong and Jeffrey Lee / Marchy Lee.

Absolute Racing entered three full-season Audi R8 LMS ultra cars in GT Asia last year. This team was strong enough to clinch the GT Asia teams' title for Absolute Racing, who was using the team name of Team R8 LMS Ultra.

The 2014 GT Asia season will get underway in Korea, with round one taking place at Inje from 2-4 May.

Young South African, Kelvin van der Linde, had his first test with Prosperia C.ABT Racing this weekend. Kelvin was the 2013 Volkswagen Scirocco R Cup champion and he will be competing with the team in the 2014 ADAC GT Masters.

3. Next Weekend’s events (8-9/03/2014)

  •           Geneva Audi Press Conference (4 March)
  •           V de V Test Days

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