Tuesday, December 25, 2012

VLN Endurance Series 2012 Audi season review

By Johan Laubscher and Tarek Ramchani

The 2012 was a great year for the Audi brand in the VLN Endurance Series. No less than three overall victories with the R8 LMS ultra and many other big performances whilst fighting the arch rivals from Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz for races wins each time. Phoenix Racing and Raeder Motorsport were the top Audi representatives in the competition this year. Both teams were able score race victories. The SP4T class was an all Audi affair. The TT RS teams faught each other for class honours as well as for the overall standings and beating cars from upper classes. Here is our complete 2012 season review of the ten rounds.

Round 1: 59. ADAC Westfalenfahrt
The season opener of the 2012 VLN was a very hard one for Audi teams. Three Audi R8 LMS entered the event from Phoenix Racing and the new comers from Raeder Motorsport. The race turned out to be a disastrous one for all three cars. All of them crashed in very difficult weather conditions. The race was later red flagged for the extreme fog. Things were a lot better for the TT RS teams. Raeder Motorsport were unlucky with their Audi R8 LMS ultra but they achieved a 1-2 victory in the SP4T class. The victorious #272 TT RS finished as the best Audi car in an amazing 8th overall, ahead of many top GT3 cars.

Round 2: 37. DMV 4-Stunden-Rennen
At round two it was victory for the FH Köln Motorsport TT RS in the SP4T class with Anja Wassertheurer, Daniela Schmid and Adam Osieka behind the wheel. Three Audis were present in the top class for GT3 machinery. Two Audi R8 LMS cars from Phoenix Racing and Raeder Motorsport. The #15 Phoenix R8 LMS finished 5th and the #44 Raeder R8 LMS finished 15th. Mamerow Racing entered their #14 R8 LMS ultra but unfortunately did not start the race after an accident on Friday. There was a total of eleven Audis in the race, three R8s, three of the SP4T TT RS cars and then also a combination of other TT RS, TTS, TT, A4 and A3 cars.

Round 3: 54. ADAC ACAS H&R-Cup
The third round of the VLN series is traditionally the warm up event for the Nurburgring 24 Hours. As such the grid was packed and there was no shortage of Audi cars. Seven Audi R8 LMS cars were entered from Audi Sport Team Phoenix, W Racing Team (WRT), Audi race experience (TKL Motorsport), Raeder Motorsport and Mamerow Racing. In the end the #5 Audi Sport Team Phoenix R8 LMS ultra of Christopher Mies and Markus Winkelhock finished second overall and the #15 Phoenix car in fourth. The #272 Raeder Motorsport Audi TT RS won the SP4T class. There were seventeen Audis in the race.

Round 4: 43. Adenauer ADAC Rundstrecken-Trophy
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.

Round 5: 52. ADAC Reinoldus-Langstreckenrennen
At round five three Audi R8 LMS ultra cars were at the event. Unfortunately the two Phoenix Racing cars retired from the race but there was success for the third car from Raeder Motorsport. The Raeder car put aside its recent bad luck to claim third place during the race. The Raeder team also took victory in the SP4T class with the Audi TT RS. In total eleven Audi cars took part in the event.

Round 6: 35. RCM DMV Grenzlandrennen
The sixth VLN round saw the Phoenix Racing pairing of Marc Basseng and Frank Stippler do it again in their Audi R8 LMS ultra. The pair who together won the fourth round of the series again stepped onto the top of the podium after an amazing comeback drive. The SP4T class was once again won by the Raeder Motorsport Audi TT RS. A total of nine Audi race cars took part in the event.

Round 7: 6h ADAC Ruhr-Pokal-Rennen
The six hour Pokal VLN event played host to round seven of the series. Five Audi R8 LMS ultra cars lined up for the race and they did not disappoint. The Raeder Motorsport team continued their good showing by placing second overall ahead of the Audi Sport Team Phoenix cars in third and sixth. There was also Audi success in the SP4T class, but not by one of the usual TT RS cars. It was a debut win for the Brandl Motorsport team and their privately built Audi TT RS which survived the six hours to take the class victory.

Round 8: 44. ADAC Barbarossapreis
The eighth round of the VLN series proved to be very successful for the Audi brand. An overall 1-2 finish with the Audi R8 LMS ultra teams and another SP4T class victory for the TT RS. Raeder Motorsport were in top form this weekend. The team has had a resurgence during the last few rounds as they put their start of season bad luck behind them. Raeder stormed through the race and lead the #15 Phoenix Racing Audi over the line for victory, completing the 1-2 Audi finish. FH Köln Motorsport achieved the victory in the SP4T class in their red and white TT RS. In total thirteen Audis took part in the race. This weekend also marked the debut of another Audi R8 LMS Team, Twin Busch Motorsport who debuted their car at the green hell.

Round 9: ROWE 250-Meilen-Rennen
It was a very busy weekend for the Audi R8 LMS ultra drivers across Europe with the FIA GT1, ADAC GT Masters and French GT. As a result there were many driver shuffles, especially in the VLN were Phoenix Racing’s line-up looked very different with Frank Biela joining the squad this weekend. The VLN event was round nine of the series, the ROWE 250-Meilen Race. It was a hard race for the R8 LMS ultra teams as the highest finisher was the #5 Phoenix car in tenth place. The Raeder Motorsport TT RS #272 did very well as they finished in eighth overall and first in the SP4T class.

Round 10: 37. DMV Münsterlandpokal
The finale of the VLN turned into a very cold and snowy weekend. The event was eventually cancelled for safety seasons due to the very dangerous conditions. A variety of Audi cars were entered for this weekend, including a large number of Audi R8 LMS ultra cars. That event marked the final round of the 2012 VLN season.

Editors note: A very special thanks to our friend Norbert Kratz for the great photos all season long.