Motorsports

Audi Aiming For Another Endurance Race Victory

BY Azfar Hashim

Two Audi R8 LMS cars will contest the Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (MMER) at Sepang this coming weekend

Overall victory at the Bathurst 12 Hours in Australia in February, at the 24-hour race at Spa in Belgium in July and at the Zolder 24 Hours in September plus class victory at the Nürburgring 24 Hours in June - this almost automatically sets the goal for the last major endurance race of the Audi R8 LMS this season: in Malaysia, the customer sport race car (of which more than 40 units have been sold worldwide to date) is to prove its qualities in front of Asian prospects by clinching another victory.

Last year, Frank Biela, Darryl O’Young and Marco Werner celebrated second place at the first run of the Audi R8 LMS in this race. All three drivers are part of the grid again this year, albeit in a different formation - the two former Audi factory drivers Biela and Werner will be supported by the Swiss Marcel Fässler who has won the Le Mans 24 Hours for Audi this year. The trio’s combined track record totals nine Le Mans successes. The second Audi R8 LMS will be driven by another former Le Mans winner, Seiji Ara. The Japanese will share the car with Darryl O’Young from HongKong and Alex Yoong. The Malaysian enjoys a particular bonus at his home round on account of his huge popularity as he is the only former Grand Prix racer in his country.

The two Audi R8 LMS cars are fielded by WRT. They are competing under the entry submitted by the Belgian Audi Club, as part of a factory-supported Audi customer sport programme. The Belgian team, headed by former racer Vincent Vosse, clinched the first two 24-hour overall victories of the R8 LMS at Spa and at Zolder.

The car that won at Spa, the R8 LMS with chassis number 218, will run at Sepang with three European drivers at the wheel. The Asian drivers are sharing the second WRT race car from Spa with chassis number 319. In Malaysia, both race cars are fielded with the same endurance specification as at the 24-hour races in Europe. To make conditions in the cockpit more bearable in view of track temperatures above 30 degrees centigrade both cars have been slightly modified: an electrically operated, air conditioning system with a weight of merely three kilograms conducts cooled air into the driver’s helmet and via a tube in the cockpit also toward the driver’s body.

The two Audi R8 LMS race cars feature different liveries. Seiji Ara, Darryl O’Young and Alex Yoong compete in the blue-white colours of MediaCorp, Singapore's leading media company. The second Audi R8 LMS for the European driver line-up sports the colours of Audi Sport performance cars, the sportiest vehicles of AUDI AG. In addition, the windshield and rear wings feature the inscriptions "Audi ultra lightweight technology." The road-going sports cars made of aluminum with the Audi Space Frame (ASF) provide the direct basis for the GT3 model: 54 per cent of the parts from Audi R8 LMS came from the production cars.