Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (18-19/08/2012)

By Johan Laubscher

1. The Weekend

Focussing this week on the weekend of 18 - 19 August 2012

2. The Events

-          DTM
-          Grand AM
-          FIA GT1
-          Japanese Super GT
-          Audi R8 LMS Cup
-          GT ASIA
-          Czech MMČR
-          RCN
-          Cup & Tourenwagen Trophy
-          Norwegian GT
-          Ulster Rally
-          SCCA Grand Touring Challenge 

2.1. DTM

The sixth DTM round was held at the Nürburgring this weekend. The Audi teams showed great improvement with fast times during the sessions. Three Audi A5 DTM cars made it into the top four qualifying segment. The race saw two of the three top Audis drop back slightly but Edoardo Mortara held on at the front. Mortara maintained second place to the flag. There were four Audis in the top ten.

2.2. Grand Am

The Rolex Grand Am series moved north of the border and visited Montreal in Canada. APR was once again the only Audi team at the event with their #51 Audi R8 GRAND-AM. The car was fast all weekend long. Despite a hard race the team was able to put their bad luck behind them and achieved a top ten finish.  

2.3. FIA GT1

The FIA GT1 World Championship returned to the Slovakia Ring for the first race since the reworked series calendar was announced. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT were present with their two Audi R8 LMS ultra race cars. They proved to be on the pace as they set good times during practice. The good form continued into qualifying as the team placed both cars within the top five. Race one had both cars moving to the front but a puncture for the #33 and a slow pitstop for #32 restricted the results. The #32 recovered to finish in fifth place. Both cars were on the pace in race two as the #32 battled for second, while the #33 was storming through the field from last. A penalty due to a pitstop infringement cost the #32 a lot of time as #33 crept ever closer to the front. A safety car resulted in a last lap dash for the flag, and the WRT cars finished in fourth and fifth place. The #33 had completed an amazing recovery drive to come from last to fourth in this competitive field.

2.4. Japanese Super GT

It was only the second time ever that Audi race cars lined up for the start of the Suzuka 1000km. The first time was Team Goh in 2002 with an Audi R8 LMP. Fast forward to the present and this event was round five of the Super GT championship, this past weekend. The regular four Audi R8 LMS and ultra cars were present. Qualifying was tough as all four cars placed outside the top ten. The race was one of high attrition. Both the Audi R8 LMS ultra cars from GAINER DIXCEL and äpr racing placed within the top ten. GAINER was the highest placed finish with fifth spot. The #99 Hitotsuyama Racing R8 LMS was outside the top ten after contact early in the race and unfortunately the #21 retired.  

2.5. Audi R8 LMS Cup

Round three of the Audi R8 LMS Cup was dominated by Marchy Lee in the #1 Audi R8 LMS. He led the sixteen car Audi R8 LMS field by taking pole position and both race victories at the Ordos circuit in China. The double win has catapulted Lee into the championship lead by two points over Adderly Fong.

2.6. GT Asia

Round seven and eight of the GT Aisa series took place in Japan this weekend. The series acted as a support event to the Suzuka 1000 km. The Audi R8 LMS Cup team was present for the GT Asia races. The team's regular driver, Jeffery Lee was partnered by Alexandre Imperatori, replacing Marchy Lee who was competing in the R8 LMS Cup at Ordos. The team started on the front row followed by a podium finish in race one. The team rounded off the weekend with a top five in race two.

2.7. Czech MMČR

The Czech MMČR series raced at the Slovakiaring this weekend at a support event to the FIA GT1 World Championship. It was round five of the season. Two Audis from the Bohemia Racing Team (BRT) were at the event. The team’s lead driver, Tomas Kostka, was not at the event. The team could not repair his Audi A4 DTM (R13) in time for this event, after the crash at Most. Michalem Matějovský and Anton Kiaba drove the BRT Audi A4 DTM cars this weekend. Kostka could not drive the team’s second car as it was already decided before the event that Kiaba would drive this weekend after testing the car in June. Kiaba won both races this weekend

2.8. RCN

The German RCN moved away from their traditional home of the Green Hell to host round six at the Lausitzring. There was only one Audi on the grid, the Audi TT of Brandl Motorsport. The team who recently won the SP4T class at the six hour VLN event did very well this weekend and placed in the top five overall.

2.9. Cup & Tourenwagen Trophy

The German, Cup & Tourenwagen Trophy held round four at Zolder. Two Audis were on the grid, an Audi A3 and a TT. The #1 Audi A3 scored a podium finish in race one with Rene Freisberg behind the wheel.

2.10. Norwegian GT

Round four of the Norwegian GT Racing Championship was held at Våler. Various Audis took part at the event, including the Audi A5 TDI of Per Støldal.

2.11. Ulster Rally

The Ulster Rally took place this weekend. The Irish rally hosted many different rally cars, including various Audi cars.

2.12. SCCA Grand Touring Challenge 

Limitless Racing were in action again this weekend with their Audi R8 GRAND-AM. The team competed in a SCCA regional event, the SCCA Grand Touring Challenge held at New Jersey Motorsport Park. Dr Jason Lee was driving the car during the event. 

Limitless Racing FB page

2.13. Other Audi news

The Monterey RM Auction was held this weekend. The auction had two special Audi related cars. A 2001 Audi R8 LMP (chassis #501) and an Audi engined 2001 Bentley EXP Speed 8 (chassis #002/3). The Audi was expected to sell within the region of $1,000,000-$1,500,000 US. The two cars were acutioned on the Friday evening event. The Audi R8 sold for $1,034,000 US and the Bentley for $2,530,000 US.

The new Audi S4 driver in South Africa has been announced. Many rumours had been circulating surrounding who will drive the ex-Johan Fourie Racing Audi S4. Finally the news emerged and confirmed some of the rumours. The young star, Gennaro Bonafede will drive the Audi S4 in the Ferodo Racing Team colours. The car will be prepared by VMP Motorsport. VMP now have two Audi S4 cars in their stable for Class A of the Bridgestone Production Car Championship. Gennaro will make his Class A debut next weekend at Zwartkops. Along with this news it was also announced that Johan Fourie’s sabbatical from racing, after the closing of his team, was to be short lived. The two time Class A champion with Audi will return to the series, but at the wheel of a BMW, ending his long career with Audi.

The German Twin Busch Motorsport team have officially launched their new car, an Audi R8 LMS. The team, who have previously run Porsches in this same livery, will debut in the VLN next weekend.

It was announced this weekend that the Australian ace, Craig Lowndes will make a one off return to the Audi brand. He will compete at the Phillip Island Australian GT round during September. He will be part of the Melbourne Performance Centre stable, racing as Rod Salmon’s teammate. Craig’s car carries his famous number 888, and has a One World Bar livery similar to that raced by Salmon in car number 6.

Melbourne Performance Centre FB page

Along with the news of Craig Lowndes in Australia, it was also revlealed that five Audis will take part at Phillip Island in September. Lowndes will be joined by Mark Eddy, Rod Salmon, Peter Conroy and a fifth yet to be named driver. This is exciting news as the number of Audis in the Australian GT series is growing rapidly.

In South Africa a special Audi R8 spaceframe based race car has been developed privately. The beautiful white race car uses a twin-turbocharged Audi 3.6 V8. The car is driven by Paul Beachyhead and is set to compete in the Sports and GT races based at Killarney in Cape Town. The team have had various theething issues during the year but the car is set to be on track racing very soon. The car was tested this weekend at Killarney during a track day. 

GMG Racing unveiled the livery of their first Audi R8 LMS at the Quail: A Motorsport Gathering, Pebble Beach. This is the first Audi R8 LMS that was acquired by the team. Until now it has only been seen in all black carbon fiber, whereas the team’s other two R8 LMS cars have received their respective liveries.   

The Legends of the Autobahn was another car show hosted at the Pebble Beach weekend. The show was open to Audi, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz cars. Among the Audi cars on display there were three very special race cars. The 1987 Pikes Peak winning Audi Sport quattro S1 and two cars from the Eurospec collection. The two cars from Eurospec included an Audi 200 Trans Am which competed in the 1988 American Trans Am series and the South African Wesbank Modifieds from 1989-1994. The second car was the South African built Audi S4 GTO which also competed in the Wesbank series, from 1992-1994.

3. Next Weekend’s events (25-26/08/2012)

-          FIA WEC
-          DTM
-          BTCC
-          SA Production Cars
-          ADAC GT Masters
-          VLN
-          DMV TC
-          Dutch Supercar
-          SCCA World Challenge
-          ADAC Procar
-          STCC

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