Thursday, May 22, 2014

Blancpain Sprint Series: Phoenix Racing with highs and lows

Phoenix Racing Press Release

While Marc Basseng (D) and Alessandro Latif (GB) won the Pro Am classification at the second round of the Blancpain Sprint Series (BSS) at Brands Hatch in their Audi R8 LMS ultra fielded by Phoenix Racing, their team mates Niki Mayr-Melnhof (A) and Markus Winkelhock (D) went away empty handed. After finishing fifth as best Audi team in the qualifying race, Mayr-Melnhof/Winkelhock retired early from the main race after contact.

On the traditional English track Brands Hatch south of London, the #6 Phoenix Audi made its mark in qualifying. Markus Winkelhock recorded the fastest lap in the second part of qualifying, in the third segment the GT1 World Champion set the fourth fastest lap and presented Phoenix Racing with a grid position on the second row. “Our R8 was set-up almost perfectly,” said Markus Winkelhock, who drove the first stint in the qualifying race: “The car was absolutely great, I could make up ground easily, could close the gaps quickly time and again, just overtaking on this track is very difficult.” The team from Meuspath at the Nürburgring
excelled once again with a perfect and speedy pit stop, after which Mayr-Melnhof brought the Phoenix Audi home in fifth place. In the main race, the Austrian was boxed in at the start and lost several positions initially. On lap 14 he was hit on the front wheel while overtaking and had to park the Audi early afterwards.

“In the first race I had difficulties finding my rhythm, in the second race I could push hard after the start until I was hit by a Lamborghini,” said Mayr-Melnhof. “We’d had an excellent weekend up to this point and we deserved more.” Winkelhock could only agree: “We should have had more, but at least we’ll travel to the next race at Zandvoort with a good feeling.”

Although Basseng/Latif recorded the best time in the Pro Am category in qualifying with their #5 Audi R8 LMS ultra, as eleventh overall they did however miss the cut for the third qualifying segment. In both one-hour races, the German-English driver pairing finished in 13th and eleventh respectively and thus took maximum points in the Pro Am classification of the Blancpain Sprint Series, which they now lead.

“Brand Hatch was a success for us, because in addition to taking pole position we also won both races in the Pro Am classification. In the overall standings we were not, however, where we want to be. We have to keep working on the set-up, because we lose mainly at the start on new tyres, as the race progresses things get better and better,” said Marc Basseng. The 18- year old Alessandro Latif, weakened due to an infection, added: “That was a tough weekend. I learnt a lot again and we were rewarded for our efforts. At the start of the main race there were several light collisions and I was happy to keep the Audi on the track. I dropped way down the field as a result, but together we were still able to make up several places by the end  of the race.”

The third round of the Blancpain Sprint Series is held at Zandvoort between 4-6 July

Photo credit: Phoenix Racing