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Audi Motorsport News Update: GT Racing

It is mid-way through the season, which means the 24 Hours of Spa is upon us. Below is a list of all of this week’s races and news leading up to Spa.


Spa 24h: Four Audi Cars in Top 10 after Qualifying
[source: Audi AG] / EVENT GALLERY
Audi Sport Team WRT and Audi Sport Team Phoenix ended the qualifying session of the Spa 24 Hours with all four of the new Audi R8 LMS inside of the top ten. The fastest time was set by the reigning race winner Laurens Vanthoor in the number ‘1’ WRT Audi, who set the second fastest time, a mere nine thousandths of a second behind the best time. “We were a little worried before the race weekend and now I am quite surprised,” says the twenty-four-year-old Belgian. “We are on pace with BMW. This is something that we had not expected. Qualifying is now behind us and Super Pole will follow on Friday. An endurance race is different to a single fast lap set in qualifying.”

The second best Audi driver in the field was Nicki Thiim in the number ‘5’ Phoenix Audi in fourth place. Frank Stippler in WRT Audi number ‘2’ was sixth fastest, followed by André Lotterer in Phoenix Audi number ‘6’. These results ensured that the four new Audi R8 LMS were amongst the top 20 teams on Friday eligible for the single-lap qualifying session. In 24th place was the WRT Audi R8 LMS ultra number ‘3’, in 28th followed the Team Saintéloc number ‘35’ entry. ISR secured position 32, the number ‘4’ from WRT was 36th. Team Parker Racing was 45th fastest and Team Saintéloc number ‘36’ ended the qualifying session in position 57.

TUDOR United Sportscar Championship : COMPASS360 Makes GT Daytona Debut with Audi R8 LMS
[source: IMSA]
The wait is finally over for Audi fans, with a new eye-catching R8 LMS set to compete in the GT Daytona (GTD) class of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in Saturday’s Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park.

The anticipation has been building since May, when Compass360 Racing unveiled its plans to compete in the TUDOR Championship with an Audi R8 LMS in an announcement at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The Toronto-based team also put the car on display in the paddock for the most recent Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

This weekend, the team takes the next step, putting the No. 76 AERO Advanced Paint Technology/Children’s Tumor Foundation Audi R8 LMS on the grid with drivers Pierre Kleinubing and Ray Mason. That will give the team three entries for the weekend, including a pair of Audi S3s in Continental Tire Challenge’s Street Tuner (ST) class.

“Ray and Pierre are excited to finally get the car on the track in a race situation,” said team owner Karl Thomson. “We’ve tested at three different tracks – Sonoma, Road America and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – and the car has been on pace with the times from the other GTD cars.

“I’m looking forward to Lime Rock, because it’s only GTD and Prototype Challenge. We’re going to have a good number of cars on the track without being too congested, and the racing should be pretty good.”

Kleinubing joined Compass360 for the final eight Continental Tire Challenge races of 2014, finishing third at Road America. The Brazilian-born Floridian is a two-time winner in the series, including a victory at Lime Rock en route to capturing the 2012 Street Tuner championship for i-MOTO. He was also a five-time champion of the SPEED Touring Car Series, in addition to being a three-time Brazilian karting titlist.

Mason also has GT experience, driving Corvettes in the Rolex 24 for Michael Baughman Racing. He has raced 101 times in the Continental Tire Challenge, with four podium finishes including second overall at Barber Motorsports Park in 2006. His best finish in seven races at Lime Rock was eighth in Grand Sport for Rehagen Racing in 2009.

“Racing in GTD is something I’ve wanted to do for a number of years, and I’m excited to finally debut the car,” Mason said. “Although I’ve raced a few times in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, this is completely different.”

Compass360 Racing will host a large contingent of guests this weekend, including more than 50 from the New York City-based Children’s Tumor Foundation, in addition to the local Audi club.


Spa 24h: To the Racetrack with the Audi Sport Racing Bike
[source: Audi AG]
Christian Mamerow thoroughly enjoyed himself on the Audi Sport Racing Bike at the Spa 24 Hours, where he cycles from his hotel to the racetrack. With a weight of only 5.8 kilograms, the extremely lightweight carbon-bicycle is a very practical travel companion. “I am a very enthusiastic cyclist,” says Mamerow, who is participating in the endurance classic with an Audi R8 LMS entered by Audi Sport Team Phoenix. “Not only do I train by cycling, but also for my daily commute in the city.”


British GT Cup: United Autosports to Continue Busy Summer at Snetterton
[source: United Autosports]
United Autosports make their way to Snetterton, Norfolk this weekend for rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the GT Cup.

Phil Burgan is hoping for his maiden GT Cup win this weekend in the Audi R8 LMS ultra, after scoring podium finishes in the last eight races. The Leeds-based driver performed well at the last round at Silverstone, in extremely wet weather conditions, closing the gap to his nearest championship rivals.

Phil tested the Audi at Snetterton back in March and showed good pace, something he has been able to build on throughout the season. This weekend marks Phil’s debut racing at the Norfolk track.

Track action begins on Saturday 25th July at 10.30 with Free Practice, followed by qualifying at 13.05 and the 50-minute pit stop race at 15.30. The second qualifying session will be on Sunday 26th July at 10.05, with the first sprint race at 12.20 and the second sprint race at 15.55.


GT Asia: Podium for Audi Driver Jerry Wang
[source: Audi AG]
Jerry Wang celebrated a podium finish in his class during the third GT Asia race weekend. The Hong Kong-Chinese produced a great recovery drive in his Audi R8 LMS fielded by Absolute Racing at the Fuji Speedway, Japan. Wang started the GTM category from sixth place in the wet and rainy conditions before crossing the finish line in third place after 29 laps.


Southwest Touring Car Elite: Zhu JunHan Celebrates Victory in China
[source: Audi AG]
The Audi customer team LANDAI Race Team claimed victory in the second round of the Southwest Touring Car Elite (STCE) with Zhu JunHan at the wheel of an Audi R8 LMS. JunHan started from pole position at the Chengdu International Circuit and within twelve race laps built up of a lead of more than 33 seconds to his closest rivals.


Rahel Frey at Ski Champions Golf in St. Moritz
[source: Audi AG]
Audi driver Rahel Frey visited the famous downhill ski run ‘Freier Fall’ (‘Free Fall’) in St. Moritz on Thursday and met with ski racer Marc Berthod. They had accepted an invitation by the 2017 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships St. Moritz and Audi. At the start of the ‘Freier Fall’ men’s downhill run at Corviglia with a 100 percent descent, the World Cup downhillers accelerate from 0 to 140 km/h in six seconds. Even for experienced racers like Rahel Frey or Marc Berthod, who are used to going to their limits in terms of extreme centrifugal forces, this is an exceptional experience. “For me as someone who is not a professional skier, it is nearly impossible to imagine that you can reach the finish unharmed on this run,” Frey said in awe. Afterwards, the Audi St. Moritz Ski Champions Golf Get-Together in front of the quattro Bar at Corviglia was on the Swiss’ agenda.


Duel of the Slot Car Triggers
[source: Audi AG]
An unusual duel at Bilster Berg: A slot-car race on Saturday was the scene for a face-off between Christer Jöns and Dominik Peitz, an Audi GT driver against one of the youngsters in the Audi Sport TT Cup. The internal Audi-duel was decided in favor of Jöns, who was piloting a new Audi R8 LMS. Both agreed with their comments: “It was a lot of fun and we will come back for more!”


Q&A: Markus Winkelhock Looks Ahead to Spa
[source: Audi AG]
Markus Winkelhock is returning in the Audi R8 LMS to the Spa 24 Hours as last year’s winner.

A year ago, you won the Spa 24 Hours for the first time together with René Rast and Laurens Vanthoor. What makes this endurance race so special?

There is no other race in the world in which about 60 GT3 sports cars meet. Competing in a field of eleven marques is a dream for the fans, as well as for us race drivers. Last year, we saw how challenging this competition is. After nearly 3,700 kilometers on track, we won with an advantage of just seven seconds. I’m happy about racing again with René and Laurens for Audi Sport Team WRT.

Audi developed a new R8 LMS for the 2015 season. The sports car won its first 24-hour race at the Nürburgring in May. What opportunities are you expecting to have with it at Spa?

The car is great to drive. It has become better in all areas and the customers for whom we developed it will enjoy it as well. Although the R8 LMS is production-based, it feels like a true race car. Traction control and ABS are much better than before, which is helpful especially across the 24-hour distance. At the Nürburgring, our team-mates proved that the car is capable of winning. Obviously, we’d like to be in contention for the top spot at Spa. But there’s also a slightly different balance of performance rating for the various race cars. Plus, we’re driving with a different tire manufacturer – Pirelli instead of Michelin – who is mandatory for all the participants. So we’ll be challenged. In addition, a 24-hour race is always completely unpredictable.

How are you personally preparing?

At the end of July, temperatures are typically very high. In contrast to the Nürburgring, where four of us were on the grid, only three drivers per car are allowed to compete at Spa. So, there’ll be a great physical strain on us across the distance. The fitness training was part of my preparation and in July we also familiarized ourselves in the new Audi R8 LMS with the circuit in the Ardennes in an official test. I’m optimistic but respect our opponents as well. There are quite a few teams in contention for victory – including our strong team-mates.

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