Saturday, March 28, 2015

VLN: First round red flagged after tragic accident - Audi R8 LMS race debut

By Johan Laubscher

The opening VLN Endurance Series round held on Saturday was red flagged following a tragic accident on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Jann Mardenborough in the #23 Nissan GTR NISMO GT3 was involved in an accident at Flugplatz. His car took flight and crashed over the catch fencing into a spectator area. The event was red flagged and subsequently cancelled to allow emergency personnel access to the track.

It has been announced that there was one fatality amongst the injured spectators. Our thoughts go out to all those involved in the incident, the injured spectators and their families and friends. RIP.

Race report for the Audi teams:

This weekend’s VLN event was the race debut of the brand new 2015 Audi R8 LMS. Two new cars joined the field, one entered by Audi Sport Team Phoenix and the other by Audi Sport Team WRT. The factory-supported Audi R8 LMS entries included the driver line-ups of Marc Basseng, Christopher Haase, Mike Rockenfeller and Frank Stippler (Phoenix #15), and Christer Jöns, Laurens Vanthoor, Edward Sandström and Nicki Thiim (WRT #37).

Phoenix Racing also entered one of its older Audi R8 LMS ultra cars (Audi #5) with Christian Mamerow, Markus Winkelhock, Christopher Zoechling and Frank Stippler. This older R8 LMS ultra was the highest placed Audi during qualifying, securing ninth place on the grid. The two new Audi R8 LMS cars were qualified in positions eleven and twelve, WRT ahead of Phoenix Racing.

At the time that the red flag was waved the field was split with different pit-stop intervals. The three SP9 class (GT3) Audi entries were running fifth (#15 Audi R8 LMS), seventeenth (#5 Audi R8 LMS ultra) and twenty-fourth (#37 Audi R8 LMS).

A total of twelve Audi race cars were entered this weekend. The SP9 GT3 machines were joined by Düchting Motorsport’s Audi R8 V10 in the SP8 class, a number of Audi TT RS and Audi TTS entries in SP3T and SP4T (Rotek Racing, LMS Engnieering, S.Pace Racing, race&event), an Audi A4 B7 from Tuning Akademie Ingolstadt and the Frikadelli Racing TT RS.

The #303 Audi TT RS from LMS Engineering was leading the SP3T class when the race was stopped.

Phoenix Racing also debuted its new Race-Taxi at the Green Hell this weekend. The #4 Audi R8 LMS ultra driven by Hans-Joachim Stuck has the “Crocodile” livery that was seen at the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour.

Round two of the VLN Endurance Series will be held at the Nürburgring Nordschleife on 25 April.