Monday, June 25, 2012

Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (23-24/06/2012)

By Johan Laubscher

This weekend was another busy weekend around the world for the various Audi competitors. A week after the success of Le Mans came a weekend with no DTM or WEC but with many other events including the factory Audi Sport Team Phoenix taking victory at the Green Hell. 

1. The Weekend

Focussing this week on the weekend of 23-24 June 2012

2. The Events

-          Grand Am
-          Grand Am Continental Tire Challenge
-          BTCC
-          Australian GT
-          British GT
-          French GT
-          VLN
-          SCCA World Challenge
-          SVRA
-          Brazil GT

2.1. Grand Am

Road America was the host for round seven of the Rolex Grand Am series. The APR Motorsport team was looking forward to the track’s very long straights. The APR Audi R8 GRAND-AM was once again the only Audi represented in the field. The #51 R8 did very well during the weekend and was very fast during the race. The APR car moved its way to the front including taking the lead, but the challenge came to an end when a tire blow out costing the team another good result. The team ultimately finished in twelfth as the team's bad luck continues.

2.2. Grand Am Continental Tire Challenge

After a race weekend ending crash last time out the APR Motorsport Audi S4 was back on track for round six of the Grand Am Continental Tire Challenge series. The team and the two new drivers Alex Popow and Hector Guerrero took part in the practice sessions but did not compete in the race this weekend at Road America. Hopefully we will see the beautiful S4 on track racing at the next event.

2.3. BTCC

Round five of the British Touring Car Championship was at Croft. For the first time since the end of 2011 the Rob Austin Racing team entered two Audi A4 cars for Rob Austin and Will Bratt. The team, having sorted their engine problems, were able to fly at Croft. Top ten qualifying and race results during race one. Race two saw a spirited drive from Rob Austin who claimed a podium finish. Rob round off a great weekend by taking another top ten spot during race three. The team is looking forward to the next round after this spirited weekend.

2.4. Australian GT

The Australian GT was at Winton Raceway this weekend for round three of the series. For the first time three Audi R8 LMS cars were on the grid as Mark Eddy was making his return to the season after his crash damage in round one. Mark was fast on his return and took his 2009 specification Audi R8 LMS to two top five finishes. The two other Audis also did well this weekend, Rod Salmon finished in the top ten and Peter Conroy just outside the top ten in race one. Both unfortunately did not finish race two of the day. Rod Salmon had a new black and blue livery at Winton.

2.5. British GT

The United Autosports team arrived at Brand Hatch for round three of the British GT Championship armed with a new weapon. After non-representative results during the first two rounds the team invested in a brand new Audi R8 LMS ultra. The weekend’s event was a two hour race and the team finished just outside the top ten. The car has much potential and will be a force to be reckoned with for the remainder of the season.

2.6. French GT Tour

The third round of the French GT Tour was hosted at Val de Vienne. The Audis qualified well with cars in the top five for both races. Five Audis were on the grid. Team Audi France took a podium finish in race one with two Audis in the top ten. Race two again saw two Audis finishing in the top ten with the Saintéloc Racing car finishing highest in sixth. The red Saintéloc Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra was destroyed this weekend during an accident.

2.7. VLN

The first VLN round after the 2012 Nürburgring 24 Hours had a familiar winner. The Bilstein Phoenix Audi R8 LMS ultra of Marc Basseng and Frank Stippler dominated the weekend. The winners of the Nürburgring 24 Hours won the race followed by their Phoenix teammates in third. The Audi TT RS cars took a 1-2-3-4 sweep in the SP4T class. A total of twelve Audis were in the race.

2.8. SCCA World Challenge  

The sixth round of The Pirelli World Challenge was in Canada hosted at Mosport. The two regular Audi teams did not make the trip up north. The GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS and the Don Istook Audi TT RS were not at this event. Despite not being at the event the teams are still working on their cars. Many modifications and improvements have been made to the TT RS which can be seen on the team’s Facebook page.

2.9. SVRA

It was the Mid Ohio Vintage Grand Prix this weekend, organised by the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA). One Audi was present at the event. The GMT Racing Audi R8 LMP (#606) which is owned and raced by Travis Engen.

2.10. Brazil GT

The third round of the Brazilian GT was one of disappointment for the local Audi team. The Ebrahim Motors Audi R8 LMS arrived at the track wearing a Le Mans 24 Hours emblem in honour of Audi’s overall Le Mans win in France a week earlier. The yellow #20 Audi R8 LMS driven by the Ebrahim brothers was very fast and topped the first free practice session. Unfortunately the team’s weekend came to an end with a fire during the second free practice which damaged the car.

2.11. Other Audi news

The second endurance event of the 2012 Rolex Grand Am season is approaching, the six hours at Watkins Glen. A week ahead of the event APR Motorsport made the announcement that they will field a second Audi R8 GRAND-AM at the event. The #52 car will be driven by Audi factory drivers and the 2012 Nürburgring 24 Hours winners: Frank Stippler and Marc Basseng.

The Spa 24 Hours is the next big European 24 hour race for Audi. Another Audi has been confirmed for application to the event. United Autosport who are taking part in the 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series with McLarens have confirmed that they will try and enter their brand new Audi R8 LMS ultra in the Spa 24 Hours as well, alongside their two McLaren race cars. The team’s Audi entry is amongst other entries still awaiting selection.

The factory Audi effort at Spa will be represented by Phoenix Racing and WRT. The driver line ups for the four factory cars has been announced. Audi Sport Team Phoenix will be headed up by Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer, Tom Kristensen, Andrea Piccini, René Rast, and Frank Stippler. The WRT team will have Marco Bonanomi, Laurens Vanthoor, Edward Sandström, Christopher Haase, Christopher Mies and Stéphane Ortelli. Originally the Audi Motorsport press had said that Oliver Jarvis was in the WRT team for Spa and not Vanthoor. This was an error and it is indeed Vanthoor that will  be in the factory WRT car at the Spa 24 Hours. 

3. Next Weekend’s events (30-31/06/2012)

-          DTM
-          Grand Am
-          Grand Am Continental Tire Challenge
-          Blancpain Endurance Series
-          Superstars
-          Superstars GT Sprint
-          Czech Series
-          VdeV
-          Audi Endurance Experience (Audi France A1)

The weekend was one of ups and downs. Amongst the disappointments this weekend their were many highlights for the Audi brand around the world including the VLN victory followed by the strong showing in BTCC by Rob Austin Racing. Next weekend will be another great racing weekend, highlighted by the DTM and the Grand Am six hours with a second APR Motorsport Audi R8 GRAND-AM. 

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