Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014

World RX: Fight-back for EKS Audi in Italy

EKSRX Press Release

The return of international Rallycross to Italy was a huge success for the FIA World Rallycross Championship with the organisers of the Italian World RX round declaring the weekend in Franciacorta a sell-out event. EKS experienced a tough weekend missing the semi finals by a single point.

The young Swedish team had a lot of support from Italian Audi fans and friends on the packed grandstands in Franciacorta including Audi’s Le Mans driver Marco Bonanomi who even checked out the cockpit of the Audi S1 EKS RX. But after setting promising times in Open Practice, both EKS drivers hit bad luck in the first of the four qualifying heats. Wildcard driver Edward Sandström reported a power-loss on his S1 that also affected his second heat. Pontus Tidemand retired from his first race with a broken right rear suspension dropping him to the very end of the 38-car strong Supercar field.

By finishing 5th and two times 7th in the remaining three heats, Pontus was able to fight back and move up to 13th position overall missing the semi finals by just one point or 0.016s he finished behind former Formula One World Champion Jacques Villeneuve in his final heat. “It’s been a quite hard weekend,” said the 23-year old Swede. “We struggled in the first heat and retired, and that’s not good with the points system we have in World Rallycross. However, I’m quite happy with the top seven times we got in all the other heats, practice and warm-up. We missed the semis by one position and that’s not what I was looking for. But it has been a great event in Italy with a great atmosphere. The team has done a fantastic job.”

Edward was 26th after day 1 and able to move up to 20th position on Sunday finishing 12th in both heats. “I got stuck behind Derek Tohill in Heat 3 and my start wasn’t good enough in Heat 4,” he explained. “I followed Robin Larsson for the rest of the heat but wasn’t quick enough to be there, really. It was a very, very difficult weekend, but I’ve learnt a lot. I feel more confident in many areas.”

EKS will be back in action at round 11 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship on 11/12 October in Istanbul. By the way: congratulations to Petter Solberg for being a worthy World Champion and to IMG for another cool RX event in Italy. We are already looking very much forward to #TurkeyRX.

Photo credit: EKSRX

World RX: Great effort and medal for Tidemand in Italy despite bad luck

Pontus Tidemand Press Release

Italy has fantastic things to offer its visitors, but the weekend at Franciacorta International Circuit was not quite the success that Pontus Tidemand and EKS had hoped for. Their fighting spirit was turned up to the max and despite three strong heats, trouble with the suspension caused a leaderboard drop that was difficult to fully recover from.

Ahead of the weekend's event, Pontus had three finals in a row behind him, and he had gradually improved his performance for every race. Unfortunately the trend did not last. Already in Saturday's first heat, Pontus got caught in a bit of bad luck. The rear suspension broke and he was forced to retire from his ongoing race. After a brilliant job by the team, the car was back in perfect condition for the next heat and Pontus could end the day with a race win and a fifth quickest time overall.

On Sunday, Pontus was ready to give absolutely everything in order to make it to the semi-finals. He set a third fastest time in the warm-up, continued to perform in the final two qualifying heats and climbed the standings during the day. Despite that he finished in 13th place - just one point from a spot in the semi-finals and a chance for further advancement.

"This is rallycross and you can not affect everything, sometimes you just have to deal with the situation you end up in" says Pontus. "I'm happy with the three problem free heats and this could have been a really great weekend. But with a lineup like this, you can not have as much as one unlucky heat without falling behind in the standings and sometimes four qualifying heats are not enough to fight your way up again."

With his performance this weekend, Pontus also secured the bronze medal in Euro RX, the European championship which has been running parallel to the World RX.

The hectic schedule continues for Pontus. From Italy, he travels straight to France to start preparing for the upcoming week's Rallye de France-Alsace, where he will be back in the WRC2 category for the first time since his victory in Germany in August.

Photo credit: Pontus Tidemand

BTCC: A day of frustration for Rob Austin Audi at Silverstone‏

Rob Austin Racing Press Release

“A day of frustrations and missed opportunities” is how Worcestershire’s Rob Austin (Evesham) has summed up his Sunday at Silverstone in the Dunlop British Touring Car Championship’s latest three rounds in which he and team-mate Hunter Abbott (Maidenhead) were only once able to break into the points having gone into the event optimistic of strong results.

Rob hustled his Exocet Racing Audi to a solid ninth position in race 1 but from there his afternoon took a turn for the worse. On course for another top 10 in race 2 his car suffered damage in a collision with a rival and he was forced to retire. That meant he started race 3 towards the rear of the highly competitive 30-car grid and he could climb no higher than 18th.

Hunter was forced to start race 1 also from near the rear after problems in Saturday’s qualifying session and he got only as far as the second corner when his AlcoSense Racing Audi – which had already made up six positions – was rammed out of the race by another car. In race 2, having again started from the back, he crossed the line in 23rd. Race 3 brought the same result after his car was hit repeatedly by a rival which later resulted in a spin.

Rob, whose Pershore-based Rob Austin Racing team prepares both cars, reflected: “We’ve had decent race pace – good enough for the top 10 all day – and we’ve been much nearer the ultimate pace here than 12 months ago. But the incident in race 2 simply killed it for us when instead we should have been racking up more valuable points and been in the mix for the reversed grid draw for race 3. The only way to sum it up is a day of frustration and missed opportunities.

“I’ve openly said that my goal for this season was to finish inside the top 10 in the championship but having gone into the weekend ninth in the standings we’re now back to 12th. It’s going to take something special to claw that ground back in the final three rounds at Brands Hatch in a fortnight but this is the BTCC and anything can happen – particularly on a day when the title will be at stake and a lot of drivers tend to try some crazy moves to sign off on a high.”

Hunter said: “This is not an event I’ll look back on with great fondness. Race 3 was a real shame as I’d made another decent start and I really felt like a points finish was on the cards. Unfortunately I had a big lock up which ground the left front tyre down to the canvass and that put the handling massively out for the rest of the race. Then someone decided instead of driving around me it might be better to try driving through me – cue a very badly damaged rear end again to my car which, again, has left the team a lot of repair work to do between events.

“From here I’m going to go and enjoy the Oktoberfest in Munich next weekend and use it as a weekend to forget! Then on to the season finale at Brands Hatch Grand Prix – one of my all-time top two favourite circuits. It’s sure to be a hectic event with it being the finale so I need to focus on being in the right place at the right time.”

Photo credit: Rob Austin Racing / Phil Laughton Photography

TUSC: Promising British GT youngster heads stateside again to race Flyning Lizard Audi

Alessandro Latif Press Release

Alessandro Latif will make his Petit Le Mans race debut on Saturday (4 Oct) when the talented British youngster makes a third appearance for the US-based Flying Lizard Motorsports team at the wheel of an Audi R8 LMS.

Londoner Latif, who has already scored six Pro-Am Trophy wins in his maiden Blancpain Sprint Series season with Phoenix Racing in Europe, will tackle the prestigious annual 1,000-mile race at Road Atlanta with American duo Seth Neiman and Dion von Moltke.

It means 18-year-old Latif, who made his Le Mans 24 Hour race debut this year, will have raced in North America’s biggest three endurance sportscar races in his first season of GT racing – the Daytona 24 Hours, Sebring 12 Hours and now the Petit race which runs to either 1,000-miles or 10 hours whichever occurs first.

“I’m delighted to be back racing for the Flying Lizard Motorsports team and especially excited to be contesting the famous Petit Le Mans race,” confirmed Latif.

“I settled well into the team at Daytona and Sebring earlier this year and really worked well with them. It is a pleasure to be driving for such a professional team.

“I’ve already had an amazing introduction to the North American racing scene competing in two of the biggest sportscar races so to now get the opportunity to race an Audi at Petit Le Mans is fantastic.”

The undulating and sweeping 2.54-mile track is located near Braselton, 50-miles northeast of Atlanta, Georgia. Latif will take to the track for the first time on Thursday (2 Oct) with qualifying for the expected 50 plus car entry on Friday evening. The race is scheduled to start at 4.15pm (BST) on Saturday afternoon.

Alessandro added: “I have never been to the Road Atlanta track but having watched some videos of past races there, it looks spectacular with some sections absolutely breathtaking.

“Not having had the opportunity to test prior to the Petit weekend will make it a tough challenge but I will prepare myself as best as I can on the simulator.”

The Audi R8 LMS ultra that Latif races in Europe differs substantially from the GTD class Audi the British youngster will race at Petit due to the differing regulations in North American road racing.

“The two Audi sportscars are very different ‘animals’,” confirms Latif. “The GT3 Audi that I race in Europe has got electronic aids like traction control and anti-lock ABS braking which the GTD R8 is not allowed to have so it’s more physical to drive.

“There is also a lot more grip produced by the additional aerodynamics on the GT3 Audi. Overall you have to caress the GTD car more as it requires much smoother inputs from the driver.”

Latif placed fifth and eighth in class at Daytona (January) – his first 24 hour race and first race in an Audi – and Sebring (March) respectively and Alessandro has his sights set on another top-five result.

Latif concluded: “A top-five is my goal. I’m in a very strong driver line-up and, as importantly, with an experienced and good team. Monitoring the results while I’ve been racing in Europe it seems the regulations do not particular favour the Audi but we just have to get on and race with what we’re allowed. Our main opposition will come from Ferrari and Porsche. But we’ll put up a big fight.”

Alex was recently part of the world’s largest gathering of Jaguar D-Types when 30 examples were driven in a parade at the Goodwood Revival (14 Sep).

Photo credit: Flying Lizard Motorsports / Bob Chapman

Sunday, September 28, 2014

NASA Utah: Dominant weekend for TW Racing at Miller Motorsports Park

By Johan Laubscher

The NASA Utah region hosted round six of its racing season at Miller Motorsports Park this weekend, running on the west course configuration.

TW Racing entered their #08 Audi R8 LMS with Derek Wolthoff behind the wheel. They took part in the Time Trails and Thunder race categories.

Saturday’s proceedings were greeted by wet weather and saw TW Racing taking first place in the Time Trails and pole position for the Thunder race. Derek Wolthoff piloted the ex-GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS to a convincing victory in the thirteen laps of racing. 

Sunday saw TW Racing again topping the Time Trails standings and taking pole position for the day's Thunder race. Derek Wolthoff then also took victory in the nineteen lap race, after a hard fought battle with George Smith's Corvette, rounding out an excellent weekend.

Round seven will be the finale of the 2014 NASA Utah season. The final round will be an endurance event weekend, taking place on the outer course configuration at Miller Motorsports Park from 17-18 October 2014.

Photo credit: Makes and Models

BPCC: Killarney sets the scene for final round of the series

Audi South Africa Press Release

The last Killarney round of the Super Series on Saturday set the scene for a serious battle for the championship at Zwartkops in November. The defending champion, Michael Stephen (A1 – Engen Xtreme), put his Audi S4 quattro at the top of the overall results – by finishing both races on the podium.

In race one, Stephen claimed second place and in the feature race took the chequered flag for a valuable collection of points that keeps the championship fight alive right up to the last event.

“Johan Fourie still got a few points on me today,” says Stephen. “Beating him in race two keeps the championship fight going and anything can happen even at this point in the season.”

Gennaro Bonafede (A32 – Audi Sasolracing) finished fourth overall for the day, finishing a fairly consistent day of results with only the fifth place finish in race two – where he battled with pace – spoiling his show of consistency.

“I battled to find gears during practise and the team changed the clutch today,” says Bonafede. “The slower gear changes have cost us a lot of time and I just don't know what our pace problem was in race two.”

For Bonafede's teammate, Hennie Groenewald (A8 – Audi Sasolracing) both the qualifying session and race one went well, with Groenewald second for both. In race two Groenewald battled with pace which left him running at the back of the order and pushing his overall finishing position down to fifth place for the day.

At the bottom of the overall log was Simon Moss (A38 – Engen Xtreme). Despite this result, Moss had one of the best racing weekends in the series.

“In race two I started pole and was doing well until Michael caught me,” says Moss. That left me with two BMW's to defend against to try and hold my position. I finished fourth but I'm happy with that, it was a good race and also a good result for the team.”

The Audi S4 quattro racers head to the final round of the season at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday, 1 November, where all eyes will be on the title fight to see who claims the 2014 crown.

Photo credit: MotorPress.co.za

BPCC: Hennie Groenewald takes podium for Audi Sasolracing at Killarney

Audi Sasolracing Press Release

The penultimate round of the Bridgestone Production Car Championship promised much for the Audi Sasolracing team after qualifying saw the white, yellow and blue racers the fastest of the Audis on circuit.  Hennie Groenewald claimed a strong second place finish in race one but mechanical problems blighted the team’s weekend, leaving Gennaro Bonafede 4th overall and Hennie in 5th.

Practice and Qualifying:

The team spent Friday’s free practice sessions optimizing the cars’ set-up for the blustery conditions.  At the end of the day, both Gennaro and Hennie were happy with their race car’s handling.

Saturday’s overcast and windy conditions saw Hennie set the second fastest time with Gennaro slotting into 4th place.  Gennaro suffered a faulty clutch which made gear-shifting tricky and cost him a couple of tenths of a second.

The reverse championship starting order for race two gave Hennie a 2nd place and Gennaro another 4th grid slot.

Race 1:

In the drag off the line into turn one, Hennie clashed with Michael Stephen while defending his line but already his gearbox became scratchy shifting between 3rd and 4th gears. 

The incident with Hennie and Michael allowed Gennaro to take the outside line but as Hennie recovered, he inadvertently squeezed Gennaro onto the grass, dropping him back to 4th place.  With the machinery in class A so evenly matched, Hennie reeled off the laps to take 2nd place with Gennaro in 4th spot.

A post-race review of the incident between Hennie and Stephen, saw officials reverse their finishing order, leaving Hennie on the bottom step of the podium.

Race 2:

The Audi Sasolracing team changed Hennie’s gearbox between races and he lined up with an unknown quantity in his right hand.

Immediately, the gearbox in the #8 Audi was reluctant to change smoothly from 3rd to 4th and with five such changes per lap, Hennie dropped 0.5 seconds on each gearshift, dropping rapidly down the order.

Gennaro made a decent start but found a lack of pace to compete.  With Hennie missing gears, Gennaro was caught out as he swooped up to his team-mate and the two Sasol cars touched momentarily on the straight.

Gennaro and Hennie ended 5th and 6th respectively and were classified 4th and 5th respectively after a race day that promised so much.

From the pit wall:

Vic Maharaj, Team Manager: “It is a disappointing end to the weekend.  Both cars were quick and we were the fastest Audis out there.  The gearbox and clutch issues need to be dealt with.  A day like this motivates the team and makes us more determined to turn things around for Zwartkops”.

Gennaro Bonafede #32: “I made a decent start and was up into 2nd place after Hennie and Michael Stephen indulged in some argy-bargy.  Hennie squeezed me on the exit of turn 1 and I dropped back to 4th in an otherwise straightforward race.

In race two, I had no pace in the car and dropped to the back.  With Hennie missing gears, I quickly caught him but his sudden lack of drive caught me out and we tangled as I tried to pass him.  It was a disappointing weekend that promised to deliver so much”.

Hennie Groenewald #8: “The car felt good after practice and I felt I had a chance to fight for a win.  I had an altercation with Michael in the run to turn 1 but held my second place.  I was able to catch Johan (Fourie) around 0.1 second per lap but ran out of laps.

In race two with the new gearbox, I knew I was in trouble immediately.  I was losing half a second per gearshift and I was swamped by the field.  I had a race winning car today and it’s disappointing not to be able to capitalize on it”.

The final round of the championship sees the Audi Sasolracing team return to their most successful track, Zwartkops in Pretoria, on 1st November.

Photo credit: David Ledbitter

DTM: Audi wins DTM thriller at Zandvoort

Audi Press Release  

  • Mattias Ekström clinches first season victory for Audi
  • Edoardo Mortara in fourth place after recovery
  • Mike Rockenfeller and Nico Müller struck by misfortune
Ingolstadt/Zandvoort, September 28, 2014 – In what was arguably the most thrilling race of the year Mattias Ekström kept a cool head and gave Audi its first victory of the DTM season at Zandvoort. For the Swede, this marked an amazing fourth triumph at Zandvoort, for Audi, it was the seventh success in eleven runs on the challenging track in the Dutch dunes.

Ekström in the Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM started from position eight on standard tires and had the perfect strategy for the turbulent race that saw a total of four safety car periods. After changing to option tires, the Swede, within the space of just nine laps, managed to battle his way forward from position 15, overtake the BMW of Marco Wittmann, and ultimately cross the finish line as the commanding winner with an advantage of 7.414 seconds.

For Audi, this marked the 66th victory in total in a DTM race, for Ekström and Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline it was the first win since Valencia in October 2011. “A victory is always very special,” said Mattias Ekström. “But this victory is also a very special one because the last one was such a long time ago – for me, as well as for Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline. We had to wait for it for a long time, so now our joy of taking home the biggest trophy is even greater. We had a lot of misfortune in recent months. Today, we had the necessary fortune. It was important that I didn’t lose too much time in the beginning on standard tires. Afterwards, the safety cars played into our hands – and my car was very fast today.”

In fourth place, Edoardo Mortara in the Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM completed the successful day for Audi. The Italian had to tackle the race from the rear of the starting grid due to a violation of the rules in qualifying, recovered position by position in the beginning on option tires, and in the end successfully defended his position.

With Timo Scheider in the AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Phoenix in tenth place, another Audi driver finished in the points. In contrast, his team-mate Mike Rockenfeller in the Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Phoenix was the tragic hero of the race. The quickest driver in qualifying was headed for victory for a long time, but deprived of all chances due to the safety cars, and in the end took only 16th place.

Youngster Nico Müller in the Audi Financial Services Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Rosberg was struck by major misfortune as well. Running in second place behind Rockenfeller some of the time, he was bumped off track on lap 26 by Mercedes driver Christian Vietoris. His team-mate Jamie Green in the Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM shortly before the end of the race lost possible points after being hit by BMW driver Bruno Spengler. Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM) and Adrien Tambay (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM) were forced to retire after excursions.

“Obviously, we’re happy to have finally clinched our first season victory,” said Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport. “We often had the opportunity this year but something always got in the way. Today, we again had the jitters for a long time. But Mattias (Ekström) had the right strategy for this crazy race and in the end was extremely strong on option tires. The recovery by Edo Mortara from the last to fourth place was fantastic too, also because of the way he successfully defended himself on standard tires against the attacks by Vietoris. You could tell how comfortable the Audi RS 5 DTM feels at Zandvoort. The drivers who were struck by the greatest misfortune today were Nico Müller and Mike Rockenfeller. The second safety car was deployed at exactly the wrong moment for them. ‘Rocky’ would only have been hard to beat today.”

Euro RX: Robin Larsson with the Audi A1 crowned 2014 Euro RX champion

World RX Press Release

Swedish driver Robin Larsson has won the FIA European Rallycross Championship (Euro RX) at the final round of the series at Franciacorta, Italy and has qualified for the semi-final stages of the World RX event this afternoon.

Larsson entered the final round with a ten point lead over Norwegian Henning Solberg. The pair finished seventh and eighth at the Intermediate Classification to guarantee Larsson the crown in his maiden Supercar season.

“It feels so great to be European champion. We’ve been struggling all weekend with engine problems so we didn’t have the power we wanted. We have just been safe in all four heats and managed to finish them,” said Larsson, who follows in his father Lars’ footsteps by winning the title.

“We’ve finished one goal today, now we want to have a good semi-final and make it to the final. We’ve shown that we can run with the quickest guys in the World RX events. We had a really good race in Germany last weekend, but when the engine problem came at this event we got a little bit worried. We will turn the engine up a bit now we have won the championship. There’s no pressure so I will just go flat out.”

Russian driver Sergej Zagumennov claimed the European Super1600 crown at the Intermediate Classification, while Swede Daniel Lundh sealed his name on the TouringCar championship.

Photo credit: World RX

GT Open: Double top ten class results for Team Novadriver at Monza

By Johan Laubscher

Monza hosted the seventh and penultimate round of the International GT Open this weekend. Team Novadriver from Portugal took part with their #58 Audi R8 LMS ultra driven by season regulars, César Campaniço and Aditya Patel.

Qualifying saw the Audi duo taking fourteenth overall and ninth in the GTS (GT3) class for race one, followed by sixteenth overall and eleventh in class for race two.

Race one was held on Saturday and concluded with the Novadriver squad finishing within the class top ten, placing tenth in GTS and fourteenth overall.

The second and final race concluded the weekend on Sunday afternoon. The #58 Audi R8 LMS ultra crossed the line in seventh place within the GTS class.

Barcelona will be hosting the final round of the International GT Open, with the eighth meeting of the season taking place at Circuit de Catalunya from 1-2 November.

Photo credit: Team Novadriver

Saturday, September 27, 2014

GT Tour: Double podium for the Audi R8 LMS ultra in Nogaro race 1

By Tarek Ramchani

Circuit Nogaro is hosting the sixth meeting of the 2014 FFSA GT Tour season. Race 1 held yesterday gave great satisfaction to the Audi Sport customer racing squad.

The #42 Audi R8 LMS utra from Sainteloc Racing finished in a strong second place narrowly missing race victory. The car in the hands of David Hallyday and Gregory Guilvert was  right behind the winning #1 Ferrari 458 GT3.

Third place went to the #51 Audi R8 LMS ultra from Sébastien Loeb Racing with drivers Mike Parisy and Henry Hassid. Their team-mates Anthony Beltoise and Roland Berville with the sister #50 Audi were fourth.

The #44 Audi R8 LMS from Sainteloc Racing finished tenth overall and second within the Coupe de France class with drivers Gilles Lallement and Jean-Paul Buffin.

Team Speed Car entered a single Audi R8 LMS ultra at Nogaro, their #36 car driven by Vincent Abril and Nicolas Metairie was eleventh.

Race 2 is set for tomorrow with an all Sebastien Loeb Racing Audi front row followed by the #42 entry from Sainteloc Racing.

Update: The winning #1 Ferrari 458 GT3 from Sofrev-ASP has been excluded by race officials for technical infringements, however the Ferrari team appealed the decision and the race results are still pending.

Photo credit: GT Tour