Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pirelli World Challenge 2012 Audi season review


By Johan Laubscher and Tarek Ramchani

2012 saw the comeback of the Audi brand in the Pirelli World Challenge. The Audi R8 LMS was introduced for the first time in North American sportscar racing. It was in hands of series regulars, GMG Racing. Another Audi effort came from Don Istook with a fully privately built and run Audi TT RS in the lower GTS class. Both Audi teams had a positive 2012 season in the SCCA sanctioned series. Here is our full review of this year's competition.

GMG Racing and Don Istook did not race at the season opener held at St. Petersburg. GMG's R8 LMS and Istook's TT RS joined the series at round two on the streets of Long Beach as a support event to both the IndyCar Series and the American Le Mans Series.

Round 2: Long Beach, California
The Pirelli World Challenge at Long Beach saw the debut of two Audis during the second round of the series. The event witnessed the American debut of the Audi R8 LMS in GT3 specification, however modified to fit the SCCA regulations. The ex-Phoenix Racing car was entered by GMG Racing and driven by Anders Hainer to a respectable eleventh place finish. The other Audi making its debut was the Audi TT RS of Don Istook, a legendary Audi race car builder in America. The car was very new and had small problems all weekend and did very little running, but the white TT RS looked great and would be stronger at the next event.

Round 3: Miller Motorsport Park, Utah
The two Audis would again take part in the third round of the series held in Salt Lake City. The GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS continued to show progress as the team got to know the car. Anders Hainer in the R8 LMS finished in thirteenth place and the Don Istook Audi TT RS finished twenty-sixth overall.

Round 4: Laguna Seca, Monterey
The Pirelli World Challenge's fourth round saw the gird take part at the legendary Laguna Seca race circuit. Two Audi cars were entered for the event, the GMG Audi R8 LMS of Anders Hainer and the Audi TT RS of Don Istook. The GMG R8 LMS finished the race weekend in thirteenth place overall followed by the Istook TT RS in twenty-sixth overall. was present at the event for coverage of the two Audis competing in World Challenge.

Round 5: Belle Island, Detroit
The SCCA Pirelli World Challenge held round five at a very wet Detroit circuit. Both Audis on the grid went well. The GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS claimed its first top ten finish with Anders Hainer claiming tenth spot in race one. The Don Istook Audi TT RS also showed well and scored the Hard charger award in the wet first race by passing multiple cars.

After round 5 the two regular Audi teams did not make the trip up north, skipping the sixth round at Mosport, Canada.

Round 7: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
The penultimate SCCA World Challenge round was at Mid Ohio. As per usual two Audi cars lined up on the grid, but both had something new in store. GMG Racing were debuting another new Audi R8 LMS at the event, driven by James Sofronas. He showed great pace during the entire weekend by qualifying sixth and scored the best R8 LMS finish to date with fifth in race one. The Don Istook Audi TT RS also did well and boasted a newly updated aerodynamic and exhaust set up.

Round 8: Sears Point, Sonoma
The final round of the American SCCA World Challenge took place at Sears Point. Three Audis were entered for the event. The Don Istook Audi TT RS was entered along with, for the first time, two Audi R8 LMS cars from GMG Racing. Ultimately only one R8 took part in the race, the #40 car of Anders Hainer who finished in the top ten. The Istook TT RS finished eleventh in class.

Editors note: A very special thanks to both GMG Racing and Don Istook for their great support with our Audi coverage of the 2012 Pirelli World Challenge this year.

Photo credit and more information:
Pirelli World Challenge official website