Sunday, March 16, 2014

Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (15-16/03/2014)

By Johan Laubscher

1. The Weekend

Focussing on the weekend of 15 - 16 March 2014

2. The Events

  •           TUSC 12 Hours of Sebring
  •           Blancpain GT Series Test Days
  •           Super GT Test Days
  •           24H Series 12H Italy-Mugello
  •           RCN Test Day
  •           Austrian Hillclimb

2.1. TUSC 12 Hours of Sebring

The 12 Hours of Sebring was held this weekend, round two of the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Five Audi R8 LMS cars took part fielded by four different teams, the same entries which took part in the 24 hours of Daytona.

The Audi Sport customer racing contingent was represented by five Audi R8 LMS cars from four different teams in the GT Daytona (GTD) class. Flying Lizard Motorsports returned with their two-car Audi R8 LMS team. Their #35 R8 LMS was piloted by Seth Neiman, Dion von Moltke and Filipe Albuquerque and their second #45 R8 LMS by Nelson Canache Jr., Spencer Pumpelly, Alessandro Latif and Markus Winkelhock. Tim Pappas unfortunately suffered food poisoning earlier this week and did not compete in the #45 machine, thus Alessandro Latif was moved from the #35 driving crew to aid the #45 entry.

One-car each was entered by GMG Racing, Fall-Line Motorsports and Paul Miller Racing. GMG Racing’s #32 Audi R8 LMS was driven by James Sofronas, Alex Welch and Marc Basseng. Fall-Line Motorsports’ R8 LMS had Christopher Mies, Charlie Putman and Charles Espenlaub behind the wheel and Paul Miller Racing had Bryce Miller, Christopher Haase and Matthew Bell.

The track action got under with three practice sessions on Thursday, followed by a fourth practice session and qualifying on Friday.

Qualifying concluded in a similar fashion for the Audi teams. The Audi R8 LMS cars were again relegated to the mid-field positions. GMG Racing’s Audi R8 LMS proved to be the fastest Audi by taking sixteenth place within the GT Daytona class. The #48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS grabbed eighteenth. The remaining trio of Audis qualified together in positions twenty through twenty-two, with Fall-Line Motorsports ahead of the two Flying Lizard Motorsports R8 LMS cars (#45 and #35).

The race itself got underway at 10:15 local time on Saturday morning. The Audi R8 LMS cars were involved in the battles within the top ten during the incident filled race. By the end of the long and gruelling twelve hours, three Audi R8 LMS teams had made it into the top ten, one of them in the top five.

The #35 Flying Lizard Motorsports crew of Seth Neiman, Dion von Moltke and Filipe Albuquerque brought their R8 LMS across the line in fifth place within GTD, less than ten seconds behind the GTD race winning #44 Magnus Racing Porsche. Fall-Line Motorsports finished sixth with the #46 R8 LMS, a further seconds back from the #35 car.

Flying Lizard Motorsports’ #45 R8 LMS rounded out the top ten Audi runners by taking eighth within the GTD class. GMG Racing and Paul Miller Racing finished just outside of the GTD top ten, with eleventh and twelfth places respectively.

The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship will now be heading to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for round three of the series, 3-4 May.

2.2. Blancpain GT Series Test Days

The Blancpain GT Series official test days at Paul Ricard concluded on Wednesday. The Audi teams showed good pace during the two-day test.

A total of nine Audi R8 LMS ultra cars were on site, fielded by four different teams. Four cars were being fielded by WRT, three under the team name of W Racing Team and one as Audi Sport customer racing by WRT. Phoenix Racing and Sainteloc Racing both had two cars each. Team Parker Racing are also debuted their new Audi R8 LMS ultra at the official test days, following their first initial tests with the car last week.

A total of six Audi R8 LMS ultra cars took to the track during the first day of testing, with four of them making it into the top four by the end of the day. The M-Sport Bentley lead the way, followed by three Audis in second through fourth, the #1 WRT Audi and the two Phoenix Racing Audis, #6 ahead of #5. Team Parker Racing rounded out the top sixth with their #22 Audi R8 LMS ultra in sixth. The #3 Audi Sport customer racing by WRT car set the sixteenth fastest time and Sainteloc Racing placed thirty-seventh.

The second day of testing saw eight Audis on track. The #1 WRT Audi was the only R8 LMS ultra within the top ten, placing eighth. Four more Audis were within the top twenty, the #6 Phoenix Racing car in sixteenth, ahead of the two Sainteloc Racing R8 LMS ultra cars in eighteenth and nineteenth (#25 and #27). The #2 WRT machine rounded out the top twenty. The #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra was twenty-ninth, the Team Parker Racing #22 Audi was fortieth and the #3 Audi Sport customer racing by WRT car was forty-fifth.

The combined results from both days of testing concluded with four Audi R8 LMS ultra cars appearing in the top ten. The #7 Bentley and #23 Camaro took the top spots, followed by a trio of Audis, WRT #1 in third, ahead of the two Phoenix Racing cars (#6 and #5) in fourth and fifth. Team Parker Racing placed eighth with their #22 Audi R8 LMS ultra.

The 2014 Blancpain GT Series gets under way with the first round of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Monza, 12-13 April.

2.3. Super GT Test Days

The Japanese Super GT hosted its official test days at Okayama this weekend. Audi Sport Team Hitotsuyama took part in the event with their #21 Audi R8 LMS ultra.

Richard Lyons and Tomonobu Fujii were behind the wheel of the newly liveried Audi R8 LMS ultra and took part in the four test sessions, two each on Saturday and Sunday.

The Audi Sport Team Hitotsuyama placed fourth within the GT300 class during the first session on Saturday and was third fastest during the second session.

The final day of testing on Sunday concluded with the #21 Audi R8 LMS ultra in third place during the morning and in seventh during the afternoon. 

The 2014 Super GT will be getting underway at Okayama from 5-6 April.

2.4. 24H Series 12H Italy-Mugello

The 24H Series hosted the 12H Italy-Mugello this weekend. One Audi R8 team took part in the event.

The one Audi team was that of Red Camel Racing, a regular 24H Series entrant, who entered their Audi R8 V8. It is one of the two privately built Creventic Audi R8 V8 race cars, which are also known as “CR-8”. Their #51 entry was driven by Ivo Breukers, Robert Nearn and Henk Thijssen. They were entered in the SP3 class of the 24H Series.

The Red Camel Racing squad qualified sixteenth overall, taking third in class. The race itself was split into two segments held on Friday and Saturday. The split was due to the noise regulations prohibiting the entire twelve hour race period.

By the end of the first three hour segment the Red Camel Racing squad was holding fourth in class, twentieth overall. The final nine hours restarted on Sunday and Red Camel Racing came very close to finishing on the SP3 class podium.

The team suffered an oil leak and lost over thirty minutes in the pits, dropping them back to fourth, after having run as high as second in class. They lost out on the podium by a mere 1 minute 19 seconds, despite loosing over half an hour in the pits. Ultimately they finished sixteenth overall and fourth in class.

LMS Engineering had originally also entered one of their two Audi TT RS cars, but they withdrew their entry before the event.

The next round of the 24H Series will be the 12H Zandvoort from 30-31 May 2014.

2.5. RCN Test Day

The German RCN held its annual test day at the Nürburgring Nordschleife this weekend. A number of Audi race cars were among the entrants.

2.6. Austrian Hillclimb

The Austrian Hillclimb Championship held the Bergrallye Lödersdorf this weekend. A number of Audi race cars took part, including Andreas Marko and his Audi A4 quattro STW, which dominated Class 7 for cars up to 2000cc. website

2.7. Other Audi News

Audi Sport revealed Mike Rockenfeller’s new livery on Monday. The 2013 DTM champion will again be behind the wheel of a Schaeffler sponsored Audi RS 5 DTM fielded by Audi Sport Team Phoenix.

Audi held its Annual Press Conference on Tuesday. Mike Rockenfeller and his new Audi RS 5 DTM and a new Audi R18 e-tron quattro were on display at a special event held on Monday evening, before the Annual Press Conference. It was also when Rockenfeller’s new livery was revealed.

Team Speed Car will be returning to the 2014 French GT Tour with Audi. They will be fielding at least one Audi R8 LMS ultra for drivers Vincent Abril and Matthieu Lecuyer. Vincent Abril was behind the wheel of the team’s Audi R8 LMS ultra during 2013 and took three race wins alongside Dino Lunardi. website

Equity-One Motorsport will be returning to the 2014 Australian GT Championship. The #71 Audi R8 LMS will be driven by Dean Koutsoumidis and James Winslow.

Rob Austin Racing announced the driver of their second Audi A4 NGTC car on Wednesday. Rob Austin will be joined by Hunter Abbot for the team’s 2014 British Touring Car Championship campaign.

D2 Racing Sport, a Taiwanese racing team, has acquired an Audi R8 LMS. The team will be adding the car to their arsenal in various Asian racing events during 2014.

D2 Racing Sport has been running a variety of different race cars in recent years, including Lamborghini and Porsche race cars.

Their Audi R8 LMS is an older specification machine and has been decorated in the D2 Racing Sport yellow and green livery. The team will debut their R8 LMS at round one of the Option Cup in Taiwan, 22-23 March.

DragonSpeed continued their 2014 Pirelli World Challenge preparation this week, with a test at Sonoma.

All three of their cars were at Sonoma, both of their Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 cars and their Audi R8 LMS ultra.

Elton Julian will be driving the #65 DragonSpeed Audi R8 LMS ultra in the GT-A class of the PWC. Mike Hedlund and Henrik Hedman will be behind the wheel of the DragonSpeed Ferraris.

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

Bill Ziegler and Swisher Racing will be continuing with GMG Racing in the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge this year.

Swisher Racing has upgraded to a FIA GT3 specification Audi R8 LMS ultra and Bill Ziegler will again be piloting the #95 machine.

His R8 LMS ultra will be run by GMG Racing, who is running an army of Audi R8 LMS ultra cars in the PWC this year.

The new #95 Swisher Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra livery was revealed on Wednesday and features a new black, silver and red colour scheme.

GMG Racing was out testing at Thunderhill Raceway last week.

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

Audi Sport Team Hitotsuyama revealed their 2014 Super GT livery on Thursday.

The Japanese team will be fielding the #21 Audi R8 LMS ultra in the Super GT GT300 class this year. Their car will be driven by Richard Lyons and Tomonobu Fujii.

Audi Sport Team Hitotsuyama will be at the official Okayama Super GT test days this coming weekend, 15-16 March.

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

PK Carsport was out testing their Audi R8 LMS at Zolder on Thursday this week. They are currently hard at work preparing for their title defence in the Belgian Racing Car Championship (BRCC).

Their Audi R8 LMS will be piloted by reigning BRCC endurance champions, Anthony Kumpen and Bert Longin. They will be joined by Frank Beliën.

The PK Carsport R8 LMS will soon be receiving its new livery, a stunning new black design by

The official BRCC test and press day will be taking place at Zolder on 20 March, followed by the first round at the Zolder New Race Festival from 26-27 April.

United Autosports was out testing at Silverstone on Friday. The team’s Audi R8 LMS ultra took part in the test.

It was the second pre-season test for United Autosports’ British GT campaign. The Audi R8 LMS ultra will be driven by the 2013 British GT runners up pairing of Mathew Bell and Mark Patterson.

The 2014 British GT Championship will be getting underway at Oulton Park from 19-21 April.

Both Team Speed Car and Sainteloc were out testing their Audi R8 LMS ultra car at Lédenon on Friday. Each team was running with an Audi R8 LMS ultra at the test. website 

BQRacing will be entering two Audi R8 LMS cars in the 2014 Thailand Super Series.

BQRacing acquired their first Audi R8 LMS Cup car a few weeks ago and they will now be upping their team to two cars for the 2014 season.

The Thailand Super Series (TSS) has a number of very potent GT3 race cars competing in the series and Audi R8 LMS cars will be debuting on the grid this season.

The team’s two cars will be driven by Khun Prantarit Nerngchamnong, alongside team leader, Khun Henk J. Kiks. They will be competing in Super Car Class 2-GTM.

The yellow livery designs of the #22 and #26 Audi R8 LMS cars from BQRacing have also been revealed (pictured above).

The 2014 Thailand Super Series gets underway at Sepang in Malaysia, 10-11 May.

An Audi R18 e-tron quattro show car was on display in Taiwan this weekend.

3. Next Weekend’s events (22-23/03/2014)

  •           V de V Endurance Series
  •           BRCC Test Day (20/03)
  •           Option Cup
  •           VLN Test Days

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