Audi R8 LMS ultra #3 (Audi Sport Team Phoenix) - Marc Basseng_Christopher Haase_Frank Stippler_Markus Winkelhock
Nuerburgring, May 20, 2012
Erratic weather, an extreme pace, tough competition, bitter setbacks and a great triumph: Audi emerged from a genuine emotional roller-coaster ride as victor of the Nürburgring 24 Hours. In the 40th running of the Eifel classic the brand recorded its first overall victory with the new Audi R8 LMS ultra. The German driver quartet Marc Basseng/Christopher Haase/Frank Stippler/Markus Winkelhock shared driving duties in the car entered by Audi Sport Team Phoenix. Christian Abt/Michael Ammermüller/Armin Hahne/Christian Mamerow from Team Mamerow Racing completed the one-two success.
... gallery >>>
Audi has achieved yet another milestone in endurance racing within just eleven months: in June 2011 the brand celebrated its tenth victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the R18 TDI LMP sports prototype. Last July the customer racing R8 LMS race car also won the 24 hour classic at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium for the first time. The Nürburgring triumph now rounds off the endurance record. The competition around the Nordschleife was regarded as a particularly brutal test of endurance this year. The pace of the eight different brands represented in the GT3 class was unusually high, many leading teams were struck by technical defects and numerous accidents whittled the field down still further. While the Audi GT3 race car, which is derived from a production line car, ran technically reliably for 24 hours, the Audi teams did not escape unscathed from accidents either.
In this way, the Audi R8 LMS ultra with start number ‘2’ driven by Christopher Mies at the time was hit by an opponent in the rain while leading. The repairs took 53 minutes and stole any chance of victory from him and his team mates Marcel Fässler and René Rast – they were fifth at the flag. In the night the car with number ‘4’ from Speedhunters Team WRT lost a huge amount of time after a collision with a competitor damaged the steering. The Belgian team finished 32nd. Team Raeder Motorsport held a promising fifth position after 17 hours of racing when Thomas Mutsch was unable to avoid a lapped car as it changed line. After hitting the guardrail any it was impossible to contemplate driving further in start number 9. The Audi race experience finished in 17th place with Christian Bollrath/Pierre Ehret/Peter Venn/Marco Werner. The sister car driven by Luca Cappellari/Florian Gruber/Warren Luff/Alexander Yoong retired due to damage caused in an accident.
In the closing stages the pressure to succeed in the overall classification weighed heavily on the start numbers 3 and 26. Audi Sport Team Phoenix won its home race thanks to a combination of balanced pace, clever driving and reliable pit work. It was overall victory number three for the team from Meuspath and the first with Audi. Almost simultaneously Ernst Moser’s squad clinched third place as best Audi team in the third DTM race at Brands Hatch. Team Mamerow Racing also clinched an excellent result. Team director Peter Mamerow only changed his allegiance to Audi this year. With the support of Audi Sport customer racing the team fielded an R8 LMS ultra with Christian Abt/Michael Ammermüller/Armin Hahne/Christian Mamerow on board. Second overall is richly deserved for the private team from Castrop-Rauxel.
"We are absolutely delighted about this long desired victory,” explained Dieter Gass, Head of Racing Commitments at Audi Sport. "For three years the Audi R8 LMS was always the best GT3 car at the Nürburgring. Now we have taken overall victory in the fight with seven other brands. Over the last 24 hours nothing whatsoever was handed to us on a plate. Our victorious drivers and teams produced a fantastic, consistent and error free performance. My sincerest congratulations go to our winners. This victory in a race car closely related to the production based car once again proves that Audi Sport customer racing provides its customers with a well refined, versatile and successful race car.”
Tragedy for Wochenspiegel Team Manthey, Frikadelli-Porsche on sixth
The best-placed Porsche 911 GT3 R, fielded by Frikadelli Racing Team, saw the flag in sixth place in front of a record 235,000 spectators. In contrast, the fastest squad in qualifying, the Wochenspiegel Team Manthey, experienced an exceptionally difficult race with a tragic final moment.
The works drivers Marc Lieb (Germany), Richard Lietz (Austria), Romain Dumas (France) and Manthey-Pilot Lucas Luhr (Germany) crewing the 911 GT3 R of the Wochenspiegel Team Manthey suffered several setbacks over the course of the 24 hours. When rain set in during the night, Lucas Luhr damaged the front of his 911 when he slid briefly off the track. Moreover, the team lost valuable time in the pits because, due to a problem with a sensor, the vehicle sometimes did not start straight away. In the morning came another standstill in the pits because a flat tyre caused the brake line to sever. Still, in the final phase of the race a podium spot was within reach.
Romain Dumas fought off attacks from the trailing Mercedes. Just before the finish line he had to brake because he was several seconds off the 24 hours and he did not have enough fuel onboard to drive another fast race lap. After crossing the finish line, the engine died and could not be restarted immediately. Unfortunately, another driver did not see the 911 standing on the side of the track and hit the rear at high speed. This meant that the Wochenspiegel 911 could not complete the last lap and hence was not classified.
Klaus Abbelen’s (Germany) Frikadelli-Team was thrilled with sixth place overall at the end of a faultless race. “Generally, we just refuelled, refilled the oil and water and changed the tyres,” summarised the Eifel veteran Abbelen. “Unfortunately we misjudged during the night. We fitted intermediate tyres during a pit stop, but then the rain became heavier and we had to put in another pit stop. That threw us back a lap. But we had great fun and are totally delighted with sixth place.” Celebrating the success with him are the three other drivers Sabine Schmitz, Christopher Brück (both Germany) and Patrick Huisman (Netherlands).
The second best Porsche team was Timbuli Racing with another 911 GT3 R. After suffering tyre damage early on and a collision, the rest of the race ran smoothly for Marc Hennerici, Marco Seefried, Dennis Busch (all Germany) and Norbert Siedler (Austria). “We are totally happy with the result,” said Norbert Siedler.
The Porsche competing in the less powerful SP7 class also put in a fine performance. First in this category and 13th in the overall classification went to the crew of Kremer Racing with the all-German line-up of Wolfgang Kaufmann, Altfrid Heger, Dieter Schornstein and Michael Küke. The team fielded a 911 GT3 KR, their own construction which is based on a Porsche Cup vehicle.
Timbuli Racing claimed the 16th spot overall. Marc Busch (Germany), Egon Allgäuer (Germany), Karim Al-Azhari (Dubai) and Marco Seefried (Germany) brought the 911 GT3 home safely over the 24 hours. Position 18 went to Manthey Racing with the 2012-spec Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Sharing the cockpit were Frank Kräling (Germany), Marc Gindorf (Monaco), Peter Scharmach (New Zealand) and Marco Schelp (Germany).
Bad luck plagued the four-man driver crew of Manthey-Racing with works drivers Marco Holzer (Germany), Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) as well as the Manthey pilot Nick Tandy (Great Britain). Taking up the race from just 21st, they drove consistently good lap times without suffering any technical hiccups with the 911 GT3 R to move into fifth. They were lying within striking distance of a podium result when Nick Tandy lapped a slower vehicle on the finish straight and was hit. “I was already alongside him when the driver suddenly swerved and forced me into the wall,” Tandy said.
After extensive repairs, the 911 rejoined the race but had to retire shortly afterwards when the engine temperature rose rapidly as a consequence of the radiator being damaged in the crash. “That is annoying,” said Marco Holzer. “I really enjoyed the race. The double stints during the night were incredibly exhausting but our car ran beautifully. But around the race track there were more ‘road works’ than on a normal motorway where fences and barriers were being repaired due to the many accidents.”
In the early morning hours at 2:30 a.m. the Falken Motorsport 911 GT3 was out. Sebastian Asch (Germany) was in the Flugplatz passage when rain set in and he lost control of the 911. The impact damaged the car so badly that the ambitious squad had to throw in the towel at just on half distance. “Obviously we’re disappointed,” stated Wolf Henzler (Germany), who shared the Falken Porsche with Asch, Peter Dumbreck (Great Britain) and Martin Ragginger (Austria). “We took up the race from 40th, had no problems whatsoever and were lying within reach of a top ten placing when the accident happened.”
“Only in the Green Hell can you write race history this thrilling,” summed up Porsche Head of Motorsport Hartmut Kristen. “Still, I’m impressed with the great job our customer teams have done and they never gave up. Congratulations to the Frikadelli Racing team. They drove a trouble-free race and are the best placed Porsche team this year.”
1. Basseng/Haase/Stippler/Winkelhock (Audi R8 LMS ultra), 155 laps
2. Abt/Ammermüller/Hahne/Mamerow (Audi R8 LMS ultra) + 3m 35.303s
3. Frankenhout/Simonsen/Kaffer/Arnold (Mercedes-Benz) + 11m 31.116s
4. Leinders/Palttala/Martin (BMW) – 1 lap
5. Fässler/Mies/Rast/Stippler (Audi R8 LMS ultra) – 4 laps
6. Abbelen/Schmitz/Brück/Huisman (Porsche) – 4 laps
7. Müller/Müller/Alzen/Adorf (BMW) – 5 laps
8. Hürtgen/Schwager/Bastian/Adorf (BMW) – 5 laps
9. Klingmann/Wittmann/Göransson/Lamy (BMW) – 5 laps
10. Zehe/Hartung/Rehfeld/Bullitt (Mercedes-Benz) – 5 laps
11. Hennerici/Seefried/Busch/Siedler (Porsche 911 GT3 R) - 6 laps
13. Kaufmann/Heger/Schornstein/Küke (Porsche 911 GT3 KR) - 8 laps
16. Busch/Allgäuer/Al-Azhari/Seefried (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup) - 9 laps
17. Bollrath/Ehret/Venn/Werner (Audi R8 LMS ultra) – 10 laps
18. Kräling/Gindorf/Scharmach/Schelp (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup) - 10 laps
19. Gülden/Kisters/Panchyrz/Schmickler (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup) - 11 laps
20. Gebhardt/Grossmann/Kentenich/Posavac (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup) - 12 laps
32. Jarvis/Piccini/Sandström/Simonsen (Audi R8 LMS ultra) – 20 laps