Phoenix Racing Press Release
After Niki Mayr-Melnhof (A) and Markus Winkelhock (D) occupied second place in the qualification race on Easter Sunday and thus started from the front row in the main race on Easter Monday, Phoenix Racing had high hopes for a podium finish in the Blancpain Sprint Series (BSS) opener at Nogaro.But an unfortunate collision right on the formation lap deprived the team from Meuspath in the Eifel region of all chances. In the Audi R8 LMS ultra of Phoenix Racing Marc Basseng (D) and Alessandro Latif (GB) took positions ten and nine.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t make use of our very good starting base from the front row. That was a real shame. An unfortunate collision like this is frustrating but can happen,” commented Team Director Ernst Moser. “That’s why, in the end, it wasn’t an opener made to measure for us.”
In the #6 Audi R8 LMS ultra Mayr-Melnhof and Winkelhock, with third place in the first free practice session, had started the BSS weekend at Nogaro, France, well. This was followed by fourth place in the second free practice and ultimately the Austrian-German duo captured fifth place in qualifying. Two places behind them, the #5 Audi R8 LMS ultra with Marc Basseng and Alessandro Latif, who improved in each session, was entered on the time sheets.
The qualification race on Sunday was started on a wet track. The former GT1 World Champion Winkelhock managed to advance to position three and Mayr-Melnhof, who took over the wheel of the R8 after the mandatory pit stop, was able to maintain the position and at times even put pressure on the car running in second place. After one hour the #6 Audi crossed the finish line in third place. However, as the second-placed car was disqualified due to a violation of the technical regulations Mayr-Melnhof/Winkelhock advanced to position two. In the second Phoenix-Audi Basseng/Latif – their pit stop was the quickest one of all the teams – saw the chequered flag in eleventh place and were classified in tenth.
During the formation lap for the main race, which was also held for one hour, the #6 Audi and the car starting from position one unfortunately touched each other while warming up the tyres. The Phoenix Audi was able to start the race despite a damaged bonnet but the impaired aerodynamics had an adverse effect on performance. While running in fourth place Mayr-Melnhof turned the GT3 sports car over to Winkelhock, who was instructed to head for the pits, though, after the bonnet had come off completely. With that, the race ended prematurely for the #6 R8.
In the #5 Audi Alessandro Latif managed a good start in the main race and was able to make up two positions. Subsequently, the youngster, who had just turned 18, was a bit too optimistic and briefly left the track, having to run through the grass, which caused him to lose many positions. Following the driver change Basseng was able to make up ground lap by lap. In ninth place the German-British duo still scored two championship points.
Round two of the Blancpain Sprint Series will be held at Le Castellet in Southern France on June 27/28.
Photo credit: Phoenix Racing