Thursday, April 25, 2013

Eight Audi R8 LMS ultra to defend the Nürburgring 24 Hours title

By Tarek Ramchani

The 41st edition of the Nürburgring 24 Hours is set for May. The ADAC has published the provisional entry list for the demanding enduro event at the legendary Nordschleife. Audi won the 2012 race outright for the first time, an 1-2 Audi R8 LMS ultra victory with Audi Sport Team Phoenix ahead of the privateer Mamerow Racing. This year eight R16 cars will enter the top SP9 class for GT3 racers, entered by five different teams.

Phoenix Racing, the defending team champion, will have three cars. Two will be entered as G Drive Racing by Phoenix with the #1 Audi R8 LMS ultra for the 2012 winners Marc Basseng, Frank Stippler and Markus Winkelhock, the fourth driver will be the two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Marcel Fässler. The #3 for Audi veteran Frank Biela joined by youngsters Christer Joens, Luca Ludwig and Russian driver Roman Rusinov. The third car will be the #4 for the Stuck brothers, Ferdinand and Johannes, joined by Michael Ammermüller and Frank Stippler.

Prosperia C.Abt Team Mamerow, who have a very strong effort with Audi in the ADAC GT Masters, is entering a single car. The #3 Audi R8 LMS ultra will be in the hands of team owner Christian Abt joined by the three fast drivers. René Rast the three time Porsche Supercup champion and 2012 Spa 24 Hours winner. Oliver Jarvis who has already won the 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona GT class with an Audi R8 GRAND-AM and the 2013 12 Hours of Sebring outright with an Audi R18 e-tron quattro. The fourth driver is Christian Mamerow who finished second last year.

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is again very busy this year, in both the FIA GT Series and Blanpcain Endurance Series, where they are doing very well. As in 2012 only one car will be entered in the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring, with very strong driver line-up. The #29 Audi R8 LMS ultra will be driven by Laurens Vanthoor, who is leading the FIA GT Series points standing, the 2012 BES champions Christopher Haase and Christopher Mies, the fourth driver is Edward Sandstom. Last year was a first attempt for WRT, but this year WRT are clearly targeting the overall win.

The fourth Audi team is Audi race experience. The effort is run by TKL Motorsport and will have two cars. #14 Audi R8 LMS ultra will have Marco Werner as the leader, joined by Christian Bollrath, Piérre Ehret and Peter Venn. The sister #15 is for the Swiss Audi Sport factory driver and rookie at the event, Rahel Frey, she is sharing the car with Dominique Bastien and Ronnie Saurenmann.

The fifth and final team is Twin Busch Motorsport, a fully privateer effort and a regular team in the VLN Endurance Series. Last year they raced an old spec Audi R8 LMS (ex Abt Sportsline), this year they aquired a brand new 2013 spec R16.

The eight Audi R8 LMS ultra cars will face world class competition from different brands and teams, all of them capable of taking the outright honours. The opposition includes Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz AMG and Aston Martin Racing.

The provisional Nürburgring 24 Hours entry list is here.

Photo credit: Berzerkdesign / Mamerow Racing / Belgian Audi Club / Audi Media