Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Blancpain Endurance Series: Promising kick-off with Thong and Lee at Silverstone

Phoenix Racing Press Release

Phoenix Racing experienced a promising kick-off to the collaboration with Audi Sport customer racing Asia and the two Hong Kong Chinese Shaun Thong and Marchy Lee in round two of the Blancpain Endurance Series (BES) at Silverstone. The positive assessment following the race in England was not even affected by the ultimately disappointing 34th place for Thong, Lee and Markus Winkelhock which, instead of their possible top-ten result and following their good eleventh place on the grid in the impressive field of 62 GT3 sports cars, was caused by a spin.

From the first lap on the UK Grand Prix circuit the merely 18-year-old Shaun Thong, who also competes in the new Audi Sport TT Cup, and Marchy Lee, the winner of the 2012 Audi R8 LMS Cup, gelled well with the team and, together with their seasoned team-mate Markus Winkelhock, quickly worked out a good set-up for the Audi R8 LMS ultra. The #6 Phoenix Audi had established itself at the front of the field that boasted tremendous strength in terms of quantity and quality from the first qualifying session on. Ex GT World Champion Markus Winkelhock took third place in pre-qualifying. In the three-part qualifying session drizzle caused changeable conditions and thus made the task for the three Phoenix drivers even more difficult. Despite running on slicks, young Shaun Thong clinched a remarkable twelfth place. In the second session, Marchy Lee, like his young team-mate, showed a strong performance as well by setting the eighth-best time. In the final third qualifying segment Winkelhock positioned the #6 Audi in eleventh place. “Due to the drizzle and heavy traffic with so many cars on track I wasn’t able to convert our potential into a really optimal result in qualifying,” commented Markus Winkelhock.

The former Formula One driver managed a very good start to the three-hour race, was able to stay out of harm’s way in the close field by driving cautiously and immediately made up several places. “With respect to the car we were in a very good position and managed to keep the pace of the front runners,” said Winkelhock, who turned over driving duties to Shaun Thong at the first pit stop. The 18-year-old talent drove prudently and fast, but on the last lap before pitting spun and got stuck in the gravel trap in his Phoenix Audi. Recovering the car from the gravel cost about four minutes and, as a result, caused the #6 Audi to lose a lot of ground. Marchy Lee took over the R8 cockpit for the third stint and ultimately drove the GT3 sports car across the finish line in 34th place by setting consistently fast lap times.

“Shaun and Marchy both did a superb job,” Markus Winkelhock said in praise of the two drivers. “Without the spin, which can easily happen in such a commotion, a place in the top ten would have been possible and that would have been absolutely great in this strong and large field.” Phoenix GT Team Manager Bernhard Demmer felt the same way: “The foundation has been laid. The two superbly gelled with the team and drove a prudent and fast race despite the fact that the result wasn’t satisfactory.”

For Shaun Thong, Marchy Lee and Markus Winkelhock round three of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Paul Ricard, France, will be on the agenda on 19/20 June. “We already tested at Paul Ricard so we’re determined to make better use of our potential there,” says Winkelhock. Before the BES event Ernst Moser’s team based in Meuspath at the Nürburgring will be travelling to round two of the DTM at the Lausitzring on 31 May and to round three of the Blancpain Sprint Series at Zolder, Belgium, on 05 June.

Photo credit: Phoenix Racing

24H Series: Simpson Motorsport enters 12H Zandvoort with an Audi R8 LMS

By Tarek Ramchani

Circuit Park Zandvoort in the Netherlands will play host to the third round of the 24H Series this weekend. A single Audi race car will enter the event.

Simpson Motorsport from the UK will field an Audi R8 LMS in the Dutch endurance race. The #16 car will compete in the A6 class open to FIA GT3 machines. The Audi will be driven by Peter Cook and Frank Pelle. In 2014 Simpson Motorsport took part in one 24H Series event, the 24-hour race at Barcelona.

A total of 50 cars will be at Zandvoort including 10 GT3 cars. The race will have two parts, the first segement (3 hours) one will be held on Friday. The second and final part (9 hours) will be held on Saturday.

Photo credit: 24H Series

DTM: Audi travels to the Lausitzring DTM round two with tailwind

Audi Press Release

As the leader of all three classifications (drivers’, manufacturers’ and teams’), Audi heads to the second DTM weekend of the year – with a premiere: On Saturday, May 30, at the Lausitzring, a DTM race will be held on Saturday night for the first time – aired on prime time immediately before the DFB Cup final in Berlin, which is only about 130 kilometers away.

With two victories and two pole positions, Audi managed a near-perfect start to the new DTM season. The squad headed by Dieter Gass would like to pick up where it left off in the opener, although the Head of DTM at Audi Sport cautions against excessive expectations. “We had a very good opening DTM weekend and we want to again fight for top places at the Lausitzring. However, the field is incredibly close and we do not underestimate our competitors. Mercedes have traditionally been strong at the Lausitzring. BMW will try to come back. And we have to add between five and ten kilograms of performance weights to our cars following the two victories at Hockenheim.”

Additionally, the 3.478-kilometer Lausitzring with its mix of fast, semi-fast and slow turns, plus a long start-finish straight with top speeds of about 240 km/h, is a race track that Audi was frequently struggling with in the past. An Audi driver crossed the finish line as the winner there only twice (in 2005 and 2011) – in one event with an extremely small advantage. In 2005, Mattias Ekström prevailed in a gripping duel against Gary Paffett in the Mercedes-Benz. “Gary was on my heels during the whole race,” the Audi driver recalls. “I couldn’t afford to make any mistakes.” Ten years later, there might well be a repeat of the duel between the two most successful active DTM drivers.

The current leader of the standings, Edoardo Mortara, is expecting a special race in Brandenburg. “For the first time in my career, I’m at the very top, that does make me feel proud,” says the Italian who, due to an unsuccessful tire strategy, experienced one of the most difficult DTM races in his career at the Lausitzring last year. “This shows how close success and failure are in the DTM,” says Dieter Gass. “With the new format of two races per weekend and an extremely tight schedule for everyone, this is the case even more than in the past. You could see that at Hockenheim with Jamie Green: On Saturday, he won and on Sunday he finished without points. With Mattias Ekström, it was exactly the other way around.”

Nico Müller travels to the Lausitzring with a tailwind. The youngster won the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring in the all-new Audi R8 LMS. As a result, his fans will have to get used to a new ‘hairstyle’ – at least temporarily. Following their victory in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring, Nico Müller and his team-mates had their heads shaved bald.

Following the successful opener at Hockenheim, the fans can look forward to another entertaining DTM weekend, which includes the IDM Superbike Championship as well. Practice in the DTM is on Friday, while a qualifying session and a race are on the agenda on both Saturday and Sunday. ARD will broadcast the first race on Saturday (May 30) at 18.00 CEST and the second one on Sunday (May 31) at 14.00 CEST. Live streaming will be provided at www.dtm.com/live.

On Saturday evening, motorsport and soccer fans will have the opportunity to experience two top sporting events in succession on TV: the DTM race and then thereafter the DFB Cup final between Borussia Dortmund and VfL Wolfsburg. “Two TV treats,” promises Timo Scheider, who, in third place, was the best Audi driver in the DTM race at the Lausitzring last year and is a great BVB fan himself. “Naturally, I’m going to watch the Cup final and keep my fingers crossed for Dortmund,” says Scheider. “But first of all, I’ve got to convert the good performance of the Audi RS 5 DTM into points in the DTM.”

Photo credit: Audi Media

Monday, May 25, 2015

Busy weekend for Audi Sport customer racing North America at Detroit

By Tarek Ramchani

A busy weekend ahead for Audi Sport customer racing North America at Detroit this upcoming weekend. The Motor City is hosting the two premier North American sportscar series, the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the Pirelli World Challenge.

The two events are sharing the weekend with the IndyCar Series and will feature a great selection of Audi R8 LMS and ultra race cars.

In TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Audi will be represented by a single car from Paul Miller Racing. The #48 R8 LMS will be driven by Christopher Haase and Dion von Moltke. The two drivers will fight for GTD class victory following strong performances last time out at Laguna Seca. The Paul Miller Racing drivers are leading GTD overall drivers' championship standing.

No GTLM cars at the Detroit round, GTD will be the single GT class in the event. The TUSC race will be held on Saturday.

In Pirelli World Challenge, four Audi R8 LMS ultras will enter the event. Mike Skeen will be behind the wheel of the #2 Audi R8 LMS ultra. GMG Racing team-owner James Sofronas will drive the #14 Audi R8 LMS ultra. Both Mike Skeen and James Sofronas will compete in the upper GT class and will fight for the top spots overall.

The remaining two Audi R8 LMS ultra are competing in GTA class. Drew Regitz will drive the #19 Audi R8 LMS ultra from Stephen Cameron Racing. David Welch will be behind the wheel of the #21 Audi R8 LMS ultra from GMG Racing.

The Pirelli World Challenge GT and GTA race will be held on Sunday.

Photo credit: Audi Media

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Blancpain Endurance Series: Second, third and fourth for Audi teams at Silverstone

By Tarek Ramchani

The Audi Sport customer racing squad performed very well at Silverstone. The Audi R8 LMS ultra cars were among the fastest in the Blancpain Endurance Series field this afternoon at the British track.

At the end of a hard and fought three-hour endurance race, the Audis take second, third and fourth places.

Laurens Vanthoor, Robin Frijns and Jean Karl Vernay took a strong second place overall. They were behind the wheel of the #1 Audi R8 LMS ultra from Belgian Audi Club Team WRT. The three drivers ended right behind the winning McLaren 650S GT3.

In the closing stages of the race, 2014 champion Laurens Vanthoor chasing the leading McLaren but time run out and the Belgian ace crossed the finish line in second place.

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT drivers Frank Stippler, Stephane Ortelli and Stephane  Richelmi were third. They shared the #3 Audi R8 LMS ultra.

ISR Racing #75 Audi R8 LMS ultra performed very well but was hit by a penalty for exceeding track limits. The Czech car ended the race in fourth place overall with Filip Salaquarda, Marco Bonanomi and Frederic Vervisch behind the wheel.

More to come.

Photo credit: Patrick Hecq Photography 

World RX: Mattias Ekström and EKS Audi narrowly missed victory at Lydden Hill

By Tarek Ramchani

An amazing performance from Mattias Ekström at Lydden Hill, round four of the 2015 FIA World Rallycross Championship. The Swedish driver narrowly missed the race victory with his Audi S1 quattro.

It was a hard and fought final with difficult track and weather conditions. Mattias Ekström finished the 6-lap final in second place right behind Petter Solberg. The two drivers gave the fans on site and around the world a thrilling last lap battle for the outright victory. Petter Solberg the 2014 champion took his joker at the very last lap and managed to stay ahead of Mattias Ekström. The double DTM champion put a great pressure on the Norwegian but was not able to pass.

Mattias Ekström:

"I missed the race win in the opening metres of the final, I lost some time at the start of the race. The team worked very well this weekend, and these are big points."

Earlier in the first semi final, Robin Larsson finished the race in sixth place behind the wheel of his Audi A1. The 2014 FIA European Rallycross champion pushed hard but it was not enough to reach the final.

Photo credit: EKS

Blancpain Endurance Series: Belgian Audi Club Team WRT third fastest in Silverstone qualifying

By Tarek Ramchani

Audi dominated the Blancpain Endurance Series pre-qualifying session yesterday at Silverstone. The Audi R8 LMS ultra cars performed very well again in qualifying this morning at the "Home of British Motorsport".

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT drivers Laurens Vanthoor, Robin Frijns and Jean-Karl Vernay were the fastest within the Audi squad. Behind the wheel of their #1 Audi R8 LMS ultra, the three drivers qualified in a strong third place overall. They were right behind the leading #23 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 from Nissan GT Academy and the second placed #333 Ferrari 458 GT3 from Rinaldi Racing.

The #3 Audi R8 LMS ultra from Belgian Audi Club Team WRT was eighth fastest. The car is driven by Frank Stippler, Stéphane Ortelli and Stéphane Richelmi.

Marco Bonanomi, Salaquarda and Frederic Vervisch qualified their #75 Audi R8 LMS ultra from ISR Racing in a strong tenth overall. Phoenix Racing narrowly missed the Top 10, Shaun Thong, Marchy Lee and Markus Winkelhock qualified in eleventh place with their #6 Audi R8 LMS ultra.

The three-hour endurance race will start at 13:45 GMT.

Photo credit: Patrick Hecq PhotographyBlancpain GT Series

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Blancpain Endurance Series: Audi dominates Silverstone pre-qualifying

By Tarek Ramchani

Audi dominated the Blancpain Endurance Series pre-qualifying session this afternoon at Silverstone. Two Audi R8 LMS ultra cars were among the Top 3.

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT drivers Laurens Vanthoor, Robin Frijns and Jean-Karl Vernay were the fastest. Their #1 Audi R8 LMS ultra set the fastest time in the session, 2:01.097. They were ahead of the second placed BMW Z4 GT3 from TDS Racing.

Phoenix Racing performed very well too. The Nürburgring based squad ended in a strong third place overall with Shaun Thong, Marchy, Markus Winkelhock driving the #6 Audi R8 LMS ultra.

The other Audi entries were outside the Top 10. The qualifying session and the 3-hour race will be held on Sunday.

Photo credit: Blancpain GT Series

World RX: Mattias Ekström third overall after Lydden Hil day 1 action

By Tarek Ramchani

Mattias Ekström performed very well today at Lydden Hill with his #10 Audi S1. The British track is playing host to the fourth round of the 2015 FIA World Rallycross Championship.

The EKS star and team-owner concluded the opening day in a strong third overall after Saturday's two heats. In Heat 1, Mattias Ekström was seventh. Later in Heat 2, Eki won his race and ended in a strong third overall. The Swedish ace collected 79 points and was behind leading Petter Solberg and second placed Johan Kristoffesrsson.

ALL-INKL Münnich Motorsport scored its best result so far this season in FIA World Rallycross Championship with an improving Audi S3. Alx Danielsson ended in a positive fourteenth place with his #55 Audi S3.

The second EKS driver, Anton Marklund was fifteenth overall with his #92 Audi S1. Robin Larsson was a position behind, in sixteenth place with his #4 Audi A1. ALL-INKL Münnich Motorsport team-owner, René Münnich was twenty-seventh overall with his #77 Audi S3.

Audi drivers standing after Heat 1 and Heat 2:

P3 Mattias Ekström (Audi S1) - 79 points
P14 Alx Danielsson (Audi S3) - 58 points
P15 Anton Marklund (Audi S1) - 57 points
P16 Robin Larsson (Audi A1) - 53 points
P27 René Münnich (Audi S3) - 39 points

World RX action at Lydden Hill will resume tomorrow with Heat 3, Heat 4, the two Semi-Finals and the big Final. We wish the best of luck to all Audi teams and drivers.

Photo credit:  World RX 

Australian GT: JAMEC-PEM Racing Audi wins Philip Island 101 endurance race

By Tarek Ramchani

A great race win for Audi today at Philip Island, round two of the 2015 Australian GT Championship. The Audi R8 LMS ultra took a third race win in the series this year.

Victory went to JAMEC-PEM Racing Audi with drivers Christopher Mies and  Greg Crick. The two drivers shared the #74 Audi R8 LMS ultra run by Melbourne Performance Centre (MPC). They started the 101-lap race from the front row.

Christopher Mies was running third overall with an impressive pace when saftey car was deployed. The Audi GT factory driver took full advantage of that and passed both of the second placed Mercedes-Benz SLS and the leading Ferrari 458 GT3.

Once in the lead Christopher Mies was able control and give the JAMEC-PEM Racing a first victory in Australian GT Championship. Second place went to the # 7 McLaren 650S GT3. The #27 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 was third.

More to come.

Photo credit: Australian GT Championship

Friday, May 22, 2015

BTCC: Nicolas Hamilton tested AmD Tuning Audi S3 at Brands Hatch

BTCC Press Release

Nicolas Hamilton made his BTCC test debut today (22 May), completing some solid mileage at an often sun-baked Brands Hatch.

Driving his Monster-backed AmD Audi S3 Hamilton clocked a number of trouble-free laps throughout the day as he focused on acclimatising himself to NGTC machinery. The BTCC rookie had a few minor off-track excursions during the day, including an incident where he was tapped into a spin by another car, but overall he enjoyed an extremely successful test bow in perfect conditions.

Hamilton approached the day’s challenges with supreme professionalism and showed steady improvement throughout, much to the satisfaction of the man himself and his team.

“Today was all about getting myself used to the car,” said Nic. “It’s nothing like anything I’ve driven before so it’s a steep learning curve. I’m just delighted to have been out there as it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time. Now we can focus on making progress ahead of our first race weekend.”

The younger brother of Formula 1 World Champion Lewis made the headlines when announcing he would be contesting a half-season campaign in the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, becoming the series’ first ever disabled driver. His competitive debut will take place at Croft at the end of June with today marking a significant milestone in preparation ahead of that weekend.

“It’s been the kind of day you would expect and everything has pretty much gone to plan,” he continued. “We’ve been running on old tyres and not overly focused on set-up as the whole day has really been based around making myself familiar with new surroundings.

“We’re hoping to have another three or four test days before my first race weekend and I’m looking forward to joining the action at Croft. I’m not putting too much pressure on myself or setting any targets at this stage but I’m just really looking forward to the challenge.”

Team Principal Shaun Hollamby was pleased with Hamilton’s progress and that of his AmDTuning.com team which has undertaken the essential modifications to the stunning looking machine. Hamilton – who suffers from Cerebral Palsy – has required significant changes to the pedal set-up in his car while his clutch his hand controlled from the steering wheel via a paddle shift.

“Everyone has worked really hard to get to this point,” said Hollamby. “Team Manager Rob Tickner and the boys have done a great job and we’re really pleased with how Nic has approached his first day behind the wheel. We’ll gradually up the ante and I’m sure we’ll be ready for Croft.”

Part of that effort over the next few weeks also includes the rebuilding of Mike Bushell’s Ford Focus, which was involved in a hefty shunt at Thruxton last time out. The reigning Clio Cup champion was also on hand to oversee Hamilton’s maiden run as he awaits medical clearance to resume his own campaign at Oulton Park next month.

It’s set to be an extremely busy period for everyone involved in the Thurrock-based squad with further test dates for Hamilton already scheduled at Donington Park and Snetterton.

Photo credit: AmD Tuning

Thursday, May 21, 2015

World RX: Raise the bar in Lydden Hill - Audi EKS

EKS Press Release

EKS is on its way to the ‘Home of Rallycross.’ Round four of the FIA World Rallycross Championship will take place at Lydden Hill Race Circuit, founded in 1955 and just a stone’s throw away from Dover. The region is known as the Garden of England, but EKS won’t have an eye for the outstanding natural beauty. The team’s sole interest is grabbing first victory of the 2015 campaign.

“It’s my first time at Lydden Hill, but I know there are a lot of race circuit parts on the track, which suits me well”, says EKS team boss and driver Mattias Ekström. “After Mettet we made some further adjustments to our two Audi S1 EKS RX quattro and I’m really looking forward to racing. Hopefully the rain holds up the whole weekend.” After reaching the semi final in Belgium, Anton Marklund raises the bar: “I can feel my improvements in the car. In Mettet I was really close to the final and I’ll fight even harder to reach it in Lydden Hill.”

The challenge before the challenge …

Friday is a quiet day in Lydden Hill – no racecar engines are allowed to start. But a day without racing? Not with us! Join us in our paddock Friday, 22 May at 17.00 for a very special edition of EKS Friday’s. Mattias and Anton will challenge all of the World RX drivers on our race simulators. Who will set the fastest time and step up onto the podium?

Here comes the rain again …

Just in case it’s raining during the weekend (and it has been raining at each of the three rounds of 2015 World RX so far) you will find a warm and dry spot in our paddock. Have a look at our cars, chat with our drivers or watch the action on our big TV screens.

About Lydden RX

Location: South East England, next to Wootton, Kent, three miles from Dover
Residents: app. 4,500 (Wootton), county of Kent has a population of 1.75 million people
Track length: 1,170 metres (1,233 metres with joker)
Tarmac / Gravel: 60 / 40 %
Supercar entrants: 30
EKS drivers: #10 Mattias Ekström, #92 Anton Marklund

Where to watch live?

UK & Ireland: British Eurosport 2 (as-live Sunday, 22.50 BST)
Sweden: Viasat Motor (as-live Sunday, 21.30–23.30 CEST), TV10 (Sunday, 16.00–17.00 CEST)
Germany: Motorvision TV (Sunday, 15.00–17.00 CEST)
Internet: Live Stream (Sunday, 15.00–17.00 CEST)

Schedule (local time = CEST -1h)

Friday, 22 May
16.00 World RX Press Conference and Draw for Heat 1
17.00 EKS Friday’s

Saturday, 23 May
10.00 RX Open Practice
12.30 RX Heat I
14.30 Autograph Session at Podium
15.00 RX Heat 2

Sunday, 24 May
10.30 RX Warm-up
11.30 RX Heat 3 & 4
13.45 Autograph Session at Fanzone
15.00 Supercar Semis & Finals
16.10 Winner's Press Conference

Photo credit: EKS