The third Nurburgring success for Audi in four years
Although Audi's GT3 car was only unveiled ten weeks ago, the production-based sports car managed to go through a tough battle that lasted up to the last hour of the race.
During the 24 hours the lead changed 35 times – a record in the event that has been held since 1970. After the race’s midpoint, either the number ‘28’ R8 LMS or its fiercest rival was running in front, depending on the pit stop sequence. In the end, the Belgian Audi team prevailed with a concentrated performance of its drivers and solid teamwork - Audi Sport Team WRT with Christopher Mies/Nico Müller/Edward Sandström/Laurens Vanthoor was 40 seconds faster than the BMW Team Marc VDS.
“This was a weekend of thrilling racing, as well as an intense and nerve-wracking one,” said Romolo Liebchen, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “Sincere congratulations to our winners who never lost their cool even in the face of some minor irregularities and held up to the pressure. The whole squad of Audi Sport customer racing is happy to see the new R8 LMS instantly delivering on our promise of it being a competitive, attractive and reliable race car our customers can look forward to.”
About 50 percent of the GT3 race car is based on its production counterpart it simultaneously celebrated its debut with in March at the Geneva Motor Show.
Four new Audi R8 LMS cars were on the grid of the 24-hour race. Last year’s winners Christopher Haase/Christian Mamerow/René Rast/Markus Winkelhock in car number ‘1’ of Audi Sport Team Phoenix led the race several times but were forced to retire following an accident by Christian Mamerow - the German was hospitalised for observation. In the sister car, number ‘4,’ Mike Rockenfeller spun on track due to an oil spill shortly before the race’s midpoint. He was hit by another car that was following him, causing severe damage to the Audi that it was not able to continue the race.
The second race car of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT saw the checkered flag in seventh place. Accident damage had caused Pierre Kaffer and his team-mates Christer Jöns, Nicki Thiim and Laurens Vanthoor to lose three laps in the early stage. However, with good lap times, this driver quartet proved the competitiveness of the Audi R8 LMS as well.
Team Twin Busch Motorsport with Dennis Busch/Marc Busch/Christiaan Frankenhout saw the finish in 11th place. The Asian driver line-up of Franky Congfu Cheng/Marchy Lee/Shaun Thong/Alex Yoong achieved 12th place.