One-two victory for Audi customer teams at Daytona
• Alex Job Racing achieves GT class win
• APR Motorsport completes one-two success of the Audi R8 GRAND-AM
• All three race teams in contention for victory till the end
At the Daytona 24 Hours, the Audi R8 GRAND-AM has made its best showing to date: Filipe Albuquerque/Oliver Jarvis/Edoardo Mortara/Dion von Moltke won the GT category in a dramatic finale. The runners-up trailing the winners by 1.4 seconds were Ian Baas/Marc Basseng/René Rast/Frank Stippler. Despite 65 percent of each lap having been driven at full throttle the R8 GRAND-AM that is powered by a production-derived 5.2-liter V10 FSI engine was running flawlessly on the notorious oval track for a whole day and night. With the class victory at Daytona Audi, under factory commitments or in cooperation wîth its customers, has now won the world's most important 24-hour races.
The latest evolution of the Audi R8 GRAND-AM experienced a successful baptism of fire in the toughest GRAND-AM race of the year. All four of the updated customer sport race cars for the Únited States were running wîth technical perfection all the way up to the finish of the 24-hour race. Each of the three race teams had the lead at least once and a chance of clinching victory until the very end. 'We achieved this dream result at what was only our second attempt at Daytona,' enthused Romolo Liebchen, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. 'With that, the R8 GRAND-AM in the Únited States is continuing the string of successes of its GT3 sister model that has clinched a total of five overall victories at European 24-hour races in the past two years.'
Alex Job Racing in the end was the best Audi team. Right in the first quarter of the race the squad provided the first Audi driver – Edoardo Mortara (F/I) – to take the lead in the GT class. Afterward, Dion von Moltke (ÚSA), Filipe Albuquerque (P) and Oliver Jarvis (GB) in the white R8 GRAND-AM set the pace as well. But spins and time penalties then caused car number '24' to drop back several times. Particularly controversial was a 30-second penalty that was imposed after Edoardo Mortara had spun and a competitor was allegedly obstructed in the incident. Factually, though, Mortara had lost a position due to his excursion. Filipe Albuquerque stood up to the pressure exerted by his brand colleagues in the dramatic final phase. For him, as for Mortara and Jarvis, this meant victory on debuting at Daytona.
An impressive performance was delivered by the runner-up team as well. Thanks to their superb fighting spirit Team APR Motorsport wîth its drivers Ian Baas/Marc Basseng/René Rast/Frank Stippler (ÚSA/D/D/D) kept making up ground – on Sunday morning, car number '52' had still been far behind. Despite a drive-through penalty in the first quarter of the race René Rast took the lead from his brand colleague Filipe Albuquerque in the eighth hour. Shortly before midnight, Marc Basseng was running in front when he received a time penalty due to incorrect overtaking during the safety car period. Later, Ian Baas was hit by a Daytona prototype. So the black-white-red R8 was short of three laps when the sun rose. With a clever pit stop strategy, though, the team recovered the laps it had lost within just a few hours. René Rast managed a dramatic recovery, as the German was battling for victory trailing the leader by merely a meter throughout the last hour of the race. Rast and his team had to admit defeat by a very narrow margin.
In the initial phase, Rum Bum Racing was the quickest team within the Audi Sport customer racing squad. Frank Biela/Christopher Haase/Matt Plumb/Markus Winkelhock (D/D/ÚSA/D) in car number '13' lost ground for the first time at the race's mid-point due to a stop-and-go penalty. On Sunday morning, Markus Winkelhock took the lead in the GT class. Due to a wrong overtaking maneuver in a caution period the German lost two laps after receiving a time penalty. The team battled and recaptured the lap of the leader up to the final phase. The checkered flag and second place were almost in Winkelhock's sight when the team's bold strategy failed to pay off: on the last lap of the race his car ended up coasting due to a lack of fuel. (concept carz)
The grid of the GT class included a fourth Audi R8 GRAND-AM. Matt Bell/David Empringham/John Farano/Alex Figge/David Lacey (ÚSA/CDN/CDN/ÚSA/CDN) took 12th place for APR Motorsport.
Audi's first 24-hour victory in the Únited States completes an impressive track record. After eleven victories at Le Mans plus the successes of the R8 LMS at Spa, Zolder and the Nürburgring, Audi – thanks to its customer teams at Daytona – has decided another classic 24-hour race in its favor. Race results (GT class)
1 Albuquerque/Jarvis/von Moltke/Mortara (Audi R8 GRAND-AM) 678 laps
2 Baas/Basseng/Rast/Stippler (Audi R8 GRAND-AM) + 1.476s
3 Assentato/Lazzaro/Longhi/Stanton/Wilkins (Ferrari) + 15.533s
4 Balzan/Beretta/Frezza/Pier Guidi (Ferrari) + 47.175s
5 Armindo/Lally/Lietz/Potter (Porsche) + 49.526s
6 Bleekemolen/Faulkner/Holzer/MacNeil (Porsche) + 1m 07.775s
7 Biela/Haase/Plumb/Winkelhock (Audi R8 GRAND-AM) – 1 lap
8 Aguas/Bowyer/Kauffman/Waltrip (Ferrari) – 1 lap
9 Brown/Hedlund/van Overbeek/Sharp (Ferrari) – 5 laps
10 Baldwin/Burtin/Farnbacher/Ragginger/Renauer (Porsche) – 6 laps
12 Bell/Empringham/Farano/Figge/Lacey (Audi R8 GRAND-AM) – 11 lapsSource - Audi
Audi on third row of the grid at Daytona
• Filipe Albuquerque wîth Alex Job Racing is best Audi driver
• Teams are mainly focused on race preparation
• All four Audi R8 GRAND-AM cars are thoroughly prepared
The best Audi R8 GRAND-AM will be starting into the 24-hour race at Daytona (Florida) from the third row. The fastest driver of the Audi customer teams in qualifying was Filipe Albuquerque.
Following several warm-up laps, the Audi factory driver managed to make a perfect landing. After the tire pressure had reached the planned optimum level, Albuquerque drove a flawless lap on the high-speed track in Florida. His time of 1m 48.282s earned him and Team Alex Job Racing grid position six in the GT class, making Audi the third-best brand in the field of the eight manufacturers.
René Rast achieved the second-best time of an Audi driver. The German from Team APR Motorsport took grid position eleven (1m 48.581s). Markus Winkelhock in the Audi R8 GRAND-AM qualified in the front half of the field of 34 GT vehicles as well. The Audi from Rum Bum Racing will start from position 16 (1m 48.865s) on Saturday. The American Matt Bell from APR Motorsport achieved grid position 27 in another R8 GRAND-AM.
The main focus of all the teams was and continues to be placed on preparing for the 24-hour race. All teams are using the remaining night practice on Thursday and a final practice on Friday to further refine the set-up of the customer race sports car. The race will start at 15:30 local time on Saturday.Selected quotes
Romolo Liebchen (Head of Audi Sport customer racing): 'In qualifying, there were no surprises. We concentrated on preparing for the race. It was important not to take any risks today. Together wîth the preparation in the tests at the end of last year and in the beginning of January, we're tackling the race wîth a clear conscience. The drivers are giving us feedback confirming that we're running wîth a set-up that provides very good drivability.'
Filipe Albuquerque (Audi R8 GRAND-AM #24/Alex Job Racing): 'I'm very happy wîth my lap. I kept my cool because I knew that the first three laps are nothing special. I knew when I'd be able to attack. The tire pressure was developing according to plan and then I only needed a single lap. Everything was right on the dot. There was no more traffic and I made no mistakes. Afterward, the tires were used up. Things couldn't have gone any better today. And in the other practice sessions we want to improve our car a little bit more. I'm lòòking forward to the race.'Qualifying results
1 Nick Tandy (Porsche) 1m 47.631s
2 Andy Lally (Porsche) 1m 47.828s
3 Sean Edwards (Porsche) 1m 48.007s
4 Patrick Long (Porsche) 1m 48.137s
5 Alessandro Balzan (Ferrari) 1m 48.260s
6 Filipe Albuquerque (Audi R8 GRAND-AM) 1m 48.282s
7 Marco Seefried (Porsche) 1m 48.319s
8 Robin Liddell (Camaro) 1m 48.330s
9 Daniel Serra (Ferrari) 1m 48.521s
10 Anthony Lazzaro (Ferrari) 1m 48.577s
11 René Rast (Audi R8 GRAND-AM) 1m 48.581s
16 Markus Winkelhock (Audi R8 GRAND-AM) 1m 48.865s
27 Matt Bell (Audi R8 GRAND-AM) 1m 49.937sSource - Audi