Monday, May 5, 2014

Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (3-4/05/2014)

By Johan Laubscher

1. The Weekend

Focussing on the weekend of 3 - 4 May 2014

2. The Events

  •           FIA WEC
  •           DTM
  •           TUSC
  •           British GT
  •           Super GT
  •           GT Open
  •           SA Production Cars
  •           EuroV8 Series
  •           BTCC
  •           RCCO

2.1. FIA WEC

The FIA World Endurance Championship hosted the second round of the year at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend.

Audi Sport Team Joest entered three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars, two in sprint configuration and one (#3) in the new low downforce bodywork configuration. Audi #1 was driven by Tom Kristensen, Loïc Duval and Lucas di Grassi. Audi #2 was driven by Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Treluyer. The third Audi (#3) had Marco Bonanomi and Filipe Albuquerque behind the wheel.

The three factory Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars faced off against two Toyota TS 040 Hybrid and two Porsche 919 Hybrid entries. Audi Sport Team Joest showed good pace during the two free practice sessions on Friday, including topping the first wet session of the day.

Qualifying saw all three manufactures represented within the top three, as pole position was taken by Porsche ahead of Toyota, with Audi taking a spot on the second row, the #2 Audi in third. The #1 and #3 Audis placed sixth and seventh respectively.

It was a case of top speed during the race and the three Audis fell back initially. Clever strategy with double stinting tires brought Audi back into the running and the six hour race concluded with second position for the #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro. Their teammates finished fifth and sixth, the #2 ahead of the #3.

Round three of the FIA WEC will be the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours in June.

2.2 DTM

Hockenheim played host to the DTM season opener. All eight of the factory Audi RS 5 DTM cars took part and performed well.

The race saw pole sitter, Adrien Tambay, holding the lead at the start, but he was later relegated to second position by the eventual race winning BMW M4 DTM of Marco Wittmann. Mattias Ekström had a very strong race and charged up to second place, ahead of Adrien Tambay in third and Mike Rockenfeller in fourth. Timo Scheider, who was running very well amongst the front runners, before being punted off by a BMW, ultimately finished ninth, rounding out four Audi RS 5 DTM cars within the top ten.

Miguel Molina lost his sixth place qualifying slot due to a technical infringement, but he recovered from last to finish thirteenth, ahead of Nico Müller, who finished sixteenth in his first DTM race. Edoardo Mortara’s bad luck continued, as he had a very good race near the front, but dropped back due to a puncture. Jamie Green unfortunately retired after sustaining damage on the opening lap.

Round two of the DTM will be heading to Oschersleben, 18 May.

2.3. TUSC

Round four of the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship was at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend. Four Audi R8 LMS cars competed in the GT Daytona class, entered by three different Audi Sport customer racing teams. 

This was the first time since round two at Sebring that the GT Daytona (GTD) class was back on track. Flying Lizard Motorsports were back and entrusted their two cars to Seth Neimann and Dion von Moltke (#35) and Nelson Canache Jr and Spencer Pumpelly (#45). The #48 Paul Miller Racing R8 LMS had Christopher Haase and Bryce Miller behind the wheel. The #46 Fall-Line Motorsports R8 LMS saw the car driven by the two “Charlies” - Charles Espenlaub and Charlie Putman.

The GTD pole position went to the #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS of Canache and Pumpelly. Paul Miller Racing qualified third in class, followed by the #35 Lizards R8 LMS in fifth and the Fall-Line Motorsports R8 LMS in twentieth. 

The exciting two hour race concluded with a fuel conservation race and tragedy for Flying Lizard Motorsports. The #45 Audi R8 LMS was leading on the final lap, after stretching its fuel, but they sadly ran out of fuel in the closing meters of the race. They were passed by the leading #94 BMW Z4 of Turner Motorsport, closely followed by the #48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS, the top two finishers in the GTD class.

The #35 Lizards R8 LMS finished fifth within GTD. The race leading #45 Lizards R8 LMS was unofficially classed in sixth. Fall-Line Motorsports unfortunately joined the list of retirements.

Round five of the TUSC will be heading to Detroit Belle Isle, 30-31 May.

2.4. British GT

The British GT Championship headed to Rockingham for round two this weekend, hosting a two hour race on Monday the 5th of May.

United Autosports fielded their #23 Audi R8 LMS ultra with Mathew Bell and Mark Patterson behind the wheel.

They qualified third overall on Sunday, for the race which was run on Monday. Mark Patterson took the start and held his own in the front group until a puncture dropped him back. An early safety car allowed United Autosports to catch up with the field, but unfortunately the car later went into the garage for retirement, following contact with a GT4 class Aston Martin.

This marks the second race in a row that the United Autosports Audi has retired due to contact. United Autosports was leading the season opener at Donington Park a few weeks ago and retired when the second placed Ferrari misjudged his braking and collected the United Autosports R8 LMS ultra, ending the race for both teams and costing United Autosports the race victory.    

The third round of the British GT will be heading to Silverstone, 31 May - 1 June.

2.5. Super GT

Round two of the Japanese Super GT headed to Fuji Speedway this weekend. Audi Team Hitotsuyama entered their Audi R8 LMS ultra at the event.

The #21 Audi R8 LMS ultra was driven by Carlo van Dam and Tomonobu Fujii. Carlo van Dam substituted for Richard Lyons this weekend, as he was competing in the British GT Championship at Rockingham.

The Hitotsuyama duo qualified twenty-first in the GT300 class and finished the 500 km race in fourteenth, two laps down. 

Round three of the Super GT will be held at Autopolis, 31 May -1 June.

2.6. GT Open

The International GT Open hosted its opening round at the Nürburgring this weekend. Two Audi Sport customer racing teams took part. 

Team Novadriver entered the #58 Audi R8 LMS ultra with drivers César Campaniço and Aditya Patel. The German Team Spirit Race team, who are regular DMV TCC competitors, entered their #69 Audi R8 LMS ultra with Suzanne Weidt and Dietmar Haggenmüller. Both teams were entered in the GTS category for FIA GT3 specification machinery.

The first qualifying session saw Team Novadriver qualifying fifth in class, twelfth overall, ahead of Team Spirit Race, fourteenth in class. Team Novadriver again placed twelfth overall during the second qualifying session, taking sixth in class. Team Spirit Race qualified fifteenth in GTS.

Race one concluded with Team Novadriver scoring eighth place within the GTS class, followed by Team Spirit Race in fifteenth. 

The second and final race saw Team Novadriver finishing sixth in class, after losing time due to a penalty for a pitstop time infringement, as a result of a radio malfunction. The penalty unfortunately dropped them from fourth to sixth. Team Spirit Race finished thirteenth in class.

Round two of the International GT Open will be hosted at Portimão, 6-8 June.

GT Open website [FOTOSPEEDY]

2.7. SA Production Cars

Aldo Scribante in Port Elizabeth - South Africa, hosted the third round of the Bridgestone Production Cars Championship this weekend.

All four regular Audi S4 entries took part, fielded by Terry Moss Racing and Audi Sasolracing.

Qualifying saw the Audi drivers taking 1-2-3-4. Reigning champion and current points leader, Michael Stephen, took pole, ahead of his teammate, Simon Moss. The Audi Sasolracing duo of Hennie Groenewald and Gennaro Bonafede qualified third and fourth respectively.

It was a 1-2 finish for Terry Moss Racing in race one, as Stephen won and Moss finished second. Bonafede rounded out the podium with an Audi 1-2-3.

The second race was won by Johan Fourie in his BMW, followed by Stephen, who took the overall win for the day and maintained his championship lead. Bonafede again finished third, collecting valuable points. 

Round four of the 2014 season will be hosted in East London, 5 July.

2.8. EuroV8 Series

The EuroV8 Series was at Vallelunga this weekend. It was round two of the series and Audi Sport Italia entered three cars.

Ermanno Dionisio (#03) joined the RS 5 quattro squad with Tomas Kostka (#01) and Davide Stancheris (#02).

Qualifying resulted in a 1-2 for Audi Sport Italia, with Kostka taking pole ahead of Stancheris.

Race one started with a first corner incident involving Stancheris, who dropped back. Kostka lead comfortably at the front, but was hit by a drive through penalty. He ultimately finished tenth. His teammates finished fifth and seventh, Stancheris ahead of Ermanno Dionisio.

Race two was an absolute highlight for Audi Sport Italia. The team’s three Audi RS 5 quattro cars stormed to the front and battled amongst themselves to bring home an Audi 1-2-3. Tomas Kostka took the race win and rocketed himself up to second overall in the championship points, just six points behind the leader. Stancheris finished second in race two, ahead of Ermanno Dionisio.

Round three of the EuroV8 Series will be hosted at Mugello on 18 May.

2.9. BTCC

Thruxton played host to the third round of the British Touring Car Championship. Rob Austin Racing took part with their two Audi A4 NGTC cars.

Only two Audis were on the grid this weekend, as Rotek Racing did not take part following their crash at Donington Park last time out.

It proved to be another testing outing for the RAR duo of Rob Austin and Hunter Abbott. The two drivers qualified twenty-first and twenty-second.

Race one saw Austin finishing seventeenth and Abbott in twenty-fourth. It was a fourteenth for Austin and retirement for Abbott during race two, followed by twelfth and sixteenth for Austin and Abbott respectively in race three.

The next BTCC round will be held at Oulton Park, 7-8 June.

2.10. RCCO

The third round of the 2014 rallye racing Carrera Cup (RCCO) Slotcar Championship was the Shell Grand Prix Hamburg held on Wednesday.

Audi Team tv racing again entered two Audi R8 LMS ultra slotcars. The #1 Schaeffler R8 LMS ultra was piloted by Thomas Voigt, alongside his teammate, Jan Hennen, with the #55 Audi.

Jan Hennen qualified fourth and by the end of the evening he finished seventh overall. Thomas Voigt unfortunately finished fourteenth, after dropping out during the heats as a consequence of a loose control cord.

Round four, the Audi R8 Cup, will be held at Oschersleben on 17 May during the weekend of the second DTM round.

2.11. Other Audi News

Günter Netzer, the former German soccer player, had a test drive with an Audi RS 5 DTM at Hockenheim this weekend. He sampled three laps behind the wheel of the Audi DTM car.

Team Audi Taiwan, run by Absolute Racing, was out testing at the Penbay International Circuit this weekend.

The team was testing their #7 Audi R8 LMS. They won the opening round of the Taiwan Speed Festival two weeks ago, with Jeffrey Lee and Alex Chang behind the wheel.

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

Rotek Racing were unfortunately not on the BTCC grid at Thruxton this weekend. The damage sustained to the Rotek Racing Audi S3 at Donginton last time out meant that the car of Robb Holland could not be repaired in time for this weekend.

W Racing Team (WRT) will be entering an Audi R8 LMS ultra at round two of the Belgian Racing Car Championship.

The Belgian team will be entering the car for drivers Harry Teneketzian and Grégoire Chaix, who also competed with WRT at the opening round of the French V de V Endurance Series at Catalunya in March.

Together with WRT, the grid at round two will also see the regular BRCC entrants and reigning BRCC endurance drivers champions', PK Carsport, with their #1 Audi R8 LMS.

The second round of the BRCC will be heading to Dijon in France, 9-11 May.

The Czech I.S.R Racing team has been reported to be looking at possibly running an Audi R8 LMS ultra at the 2014 Spa 24 Hours.

The news was posted by Endurance-Info on Tuesday. I.S.R Racing would join a number of Audi Sport customer racing on the grid at the Spa 24 Hours, round seven of the Blancpain GT Series, round four of the Blancpain Endurance Series.

1998 - Josef Venc Audi A4 - I.S.R Racing
I.S.R Racing may be known for competing in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, but this would not be I.S.R. Racing’s first venture with Audi race cars.

During the mid-90s the team competed with Audi in the Czech and FIA Central European Super Touring Car Championships. They won the 1996 Czech title with an Audi 80 Competition and followed that up by winning the 1997 and 1998 Central European titles with an Audi A4 quattro STW, all driven by Josef Venc.

The Audi R8 LMS Cup season opener has been confirmed to be heading to the Korea International Circuit from 17-18 May. The original season opener was scheduled to be held this weekend (3-4 May) at Inje Speedium International Circuit in South Korea, but this event was cancelled due to operational uncertainties.

3. Next Weekend’s events (10-11/05/2014)

  •           ADAC GT Masters
  •           Britcar
  •           Italian GT
  •           Swedish GT
  •           MSS
  •           RCN
  •           Super GT Test
  •           Race Trophy Austria
  •           BRCC
  •           Thailand Super Series 

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