Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (19-20/04/2014)

By Johan Laubscher

1. The Weekend

Focussing on the weekend of 19 - 20 April 2014

2. The Events

  •           FIA WEC
  •           DTM Testing
  •           Blancpain Sprint Series
  •           British GT
  •           NSW Production Sports Cars
  •           V de V
  •           ELMS
  •           Taiwan Speed Festival
  •           Supercar Challenge
  •           BTCC

2.1. FIA WEC

The long wait for the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship came to an end this weekend. The opening round was held at Silverstone. Six factory LMP1 cars from Audi, Toyota and Porsche were ready to do battle for six hours on Sunday.

Audi Sport Team Joest arrived with two new 2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro race cars. The #1 Audi was driven by Tom Kristensen, Loïc Duval and Lucas di Grassi and the #2 Audi by Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Treluyer.

All three teams showed good pace during practice and Toyota took pole position. The #1 Audi was second on the gird and Audi #2 was fourth.

The race itself was treacherous and it proved to be a tough day for Audi Sport Team Joest. Audi was on pace and also lead the race at one point, but sadly both Audis were involved in off-track incidents and ultimately both cars retired following two hefty accidents on the wet circuit.

Toyota won the race with a 1-2 finish, ahead of a third place on the podium for the remaining Porsche.

It is now a race against time for Audi Sport Team Joest to prepare their #1 and #2 cars for the 6 Hours of Spa, round two of the FIA WEC, which will be taking place on 3 May. The third Audi will be joining the grid at Spa, in preparation for Audi’s three-car strong entry for the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours in June.

2.2 DTM Testing

The DTM hosted its last official series of test days this week, Monday to Thursday. All three of the manufacturers were present at Hockenheim for the four day test.

Audi Sport again fielded four Audi RS 5 DTM cars at the circuit with all eight of their drivers alternating behind the wheel during the sessions.

The Audi drivers showed good pace during the testing and Mike Rockenfeller, the 2013 DTM champion, was the fastest Audi driver at Hockenheim.

The 2014 DTM season will be getting underway at Hockenheim on 4 May.

2.3. Blancpain Sprint Series

Nogaro in France played host to the first round of the Blancpain Sprint Series. It was also the second round of the Blancpain GT Series and a total of six Audi R8 LMS ultra cars took part.

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT entered three cars along with a fourth WRT entry under the G Drive Racing banner. Phoenix Racing entered their two newly liveried cars this weekend.

The Qualifying Race on Sunday saw a 1-2 finish for the Audi Sport customer racing teams. The #1 WRT crew of Cesar Ramos and Laurens Vanthoor won the race ahead of the #6 Phoenix Racing Audi of Niki Mayer-Melnhof and Markus Winkelhock. G Drive Racing finished fourth, the #4 WRT Audi was seventh and the #5 Phoenix Racing Audi in tenth. It was originally an Audi 1-2-3 with the #2 WRT Audi in second place, however the car of Enzo Ide and Rene Rast was disqualified for a technical infringement.

The Championship Race on Monday ended with a double podium for WRT. The #3 G Drive Racing R8 LMS ultra of Gregory Guilvert and Stephane Ortelli finished second, ahead of the #4 WRT Audi with Mateusz Lisowski and Vicent Abril, who took the Silver Cup race victory. The #2 WRT Audi finished seventh and the #5 Phoenix Racing Audi in ninth. Two Audis unfortunately retired, the #6 Phoenix Racing Audi and the #1 WRT car, who both ultimately retired following a touch on the warm up lap.

Round two of the Blancpain Sprint Series will be held at Paul Ricard from 27-28 June.

2.4. British GT

Oulton Park hosted the opening round of the British GT Championship. United Autosports took part with their Audi R8 LMS ultra.

The #23 Audi R8 LMS ultra was driven by the 2013 British GT runners up, Mathew Bell and Mark Patterson.

Two one-hour races were held over the Easter weekend. Qualifying saw the United Autosports Audi qualifying in sixth and eleventh for the two races.

Both races were held on Monday. The first race concluded with United Autosports finishing fourth, narrowly missing the podium, less than ten second behind the race winning Oman Racing Aston Martin.

The second race ended with terrible misfortune for the team. Bell started the race and progressed well through the field. Clever strategy saw the team taking the lead of the race following the pitstop where Patterson took over the controls.

Everything looked good for the United Autosports squad, but unfortunately the second placed Ferrari driver out-braked himself and collided with the left side of the Audi, ending United Autosports race with a retirement.

It was an unfortunate end to a great weekend and possibly a victory, but United Autosports will be back in action at the next round of the British GT, which will be held at Rockingham from 4-5 May.

2.5. NSW Production Sports Cars

The NSW Production Sports Cars Championship held its second round at the Bathurst Motor Festival this weekend. Melbourne Performance Centre entered two Audi R8 LMS cars for their customers.

The first entry was that of Rod Salon, who was driving the #16 Skwirk.com.au Audi R8 LMS. Steven Mclaughlan was behind the wheel of the #75 JAMEC PEM Audi R8 LMS.

Rod Salmon took pole position during both qualifying sessions (the drivers A and B sessions). Mclaughlan took sixth and eighth during the two sessions.

The first race (drivers A race) saw an Audi R8 LMS 1-2, with Salmon winning ahead of Mclaughlan. The second race (drivers B race) concluded with another podium finish for Steven Mclaughlan, who finished third.

The third and final race was a one-hour endurance race, following the two sprint races. Rod Salmon made it two out of three for the day by taking the race victory. Steven Mclaughlan finished fifth.

Round three of the NSW Production Sports Cars Championship will be held at Sydney Motorsport Park from 17-18 May.

2.6. V de V

The French V de V Endurance Series headed to Le Mans this weekend, hosting a three hour race on the Bugatti Circuit.

AB Sport Auto fielded their #45 Audi R8 LMS, the only Audi on the gird this weekend.  Their R8 LMS was driven by Franck Thybaud, Maxime Jousse and Thierry Proust.

They qualified fourth overall, taking pole position in the GTV-2 class for older FIA GT3 machinery. By the end of the race the AB Sport Auto had maintained fourth overall and took another GTV-2 class victory.

Round three will be held at Paul Ricard, 30 May to 1 June.

2.7. ELMS

The opening round of the European Le Mans Series was also held at Silverstone this weekend, alongside the FIA World Endurance Championship. The four hour race on Saturday saw the participation of one Audi Sport customer racing team.

Sébastien Loeb Racing entered their #51 Audi R8 LMS ultra in the GTC class with drivers Henry Hassid, Mike Parisy and Olivier Lombard.

They qualified seventh in class and finished the race in twenty-sixth overall, sixth in class.

Round two of the ELMS will be heading to Imola, 17-18 May.

2.8. Taiwan Speed Festival

The Taiwan Speed Festival held its first round at Penbay International Circuit this weekend. Two Audi R8 LMS entries took part.

The first Audi entry was from Team Audi Taiwan, entered by Absolte Racing, with drivers Jeffrey Lee and Alex Chang behind the wheel of the #7 Audi R8 LMS. D2 Racing Sport entered the #75 Audi R8 LMS for C.J. Huang.

Qualifying saw the Team Audi Taiwan R8 LMS taking second on the grid, whilst the D2 Racing R8 LMS did not take part in the session.

Team Audi Taiwan took the overall victory for the day with Jeffrey Lee and Alex Chang. The R8 LMS success continued with a third place in class for C.J. Huang, who had recovered very well, after having started last, due to the fact that he did not take part in qualifying. He finished seventh overall, third in GT3.

Round two of the TSF will again be held at Penbay, from 14-15 June.

2.9. Supercar Challenge

The Dutch based Supercar Challenge held its opening round at Zandvoort this weekend. Prosperia C.ABT Racing entered one of their Audi R8 LMS ultra cars.

Slobodan Cvetkovic and Fabian Hambrecht were behind the wheel of the #119 Audi R8 LMS ultra. They showed very good pace during practice and topped the qualifying time sheets, taking pole position by 0.853 seconds.

The first race on Saturday saw the Prosperia C.ABT Racing duo taking fifth position. The second race was held on Monday and concluded with a well deserved second position on the podium for the German team.

Round two of the Supercar Challenge will be hosted at the Nürburgring on 25 May.

2.10. BTCC

Round two of the British Touring Car Championship was held at Donington Park this weekend. Both regular Audi teams took part, Rob Austin Racing with two Audi A4 NGTC cars and Rotek Racing with their Audi S3 sedan.

Rob Austin was the highest Audi qualifier in sixteenth, followed by his teammate, Hunter Abbott, in twenty-second. Robb Holland qualified twenty-seventh in the Rotek Racing Audi S3.

It was a difficult race day for the Audi teams and drivers. Rob Austin was the highest Audi finisher with eighteenth place in race two. His teammate, Abbott, retired from the first two races and Holland was involved in a heavy crash during race two, causing a lot of damage to the Audi S3. The day was highlighted by Rob Austin setting the fastest lap during race one.

Round three of the BTCC will be heading to Thruxton, 3-4 May.

2.11. Other Audi News

The Sepang circuit in Malaysia saw the BQRacing team conducting their first track tests of their newly acquired Audi R8 LMS. The car was still in its "Audi ultra" livery from the Audi R8 LMS Cup and it will soon be receiving its new yellow B-Quik livery.

The team is currently preparing for a two-car entry in the 2014 Thailand Super Series. BQRacing acquired their first Audi R8 LMS Cup car a few weeks ago and they also announced that they will 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 2014 Thailand Super Series gets underway at Sepang in Malaysia, 10-11 May.

Equity-One Motorsport were out testing at Phillip Island on Wednesday.

The #71 Equity-One R8 LMS, run by Melbourne Performance Centre, is currently leading the Australian GT Champion GT Trophy class points standings with drivers Dean Koutsoumidis and James Winslow.

Both drivers were present for the testing with very good pace on Wednesday.

Round two of the Australian GT will be heading to Phillip Island, May 24-25.

Flying Lizard Motorsports was out testing at Laguna Seca on Monday.

The team was testing their GTD class Audi R8 LMS cars at the Californian circuit. They are currently preparing for the fourth round of the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, which will be held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca from 3-4 May.

Carlo van Dam will be joining Audi Team Hitotsuyama for round two of the Japanese Super GT at Fuji Speedway. 

He will be sharing the #21 Audi R8 LMS ultra with the team’s regular driver, Tomonobu Fujii. Carlo will be replacing Richard Lyons for this round, as Lyons will be taking part in the British GT Championship that weekend.

3. Next Weekend’s events (26-27/04/2014)

  •           ADAC GT Masters
  •           DMV TCC
  •           French GT Tour
  •           BRCC
  •           Pirelli World Challenge
  •           VLN
  •           HSR

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