Published on July 21st, 2013 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
AUDI aiming for third victory at Spa 24hours
For Audi, the Spa 24 Hours is about scoring the third victory in succession – plus the third victory in a 24-hour race this year. In 2011 and 2012, the Audi R8 LMS won the iconic event in the Ardennes. And this year, the brand, on winning the GT class at the Daytona 24 Hours with the R8 GRAND-AM and achieving the twelfth overall victory of an Audi sports prototype at the Le Mans 24 Hours, has celebrated two international successes in endurance racing so far.
At Spa, a competition of mammoth proportions is awaiting the teams, as 73 entrants have registered for the fourth round of the Blancpain Endurance Series on July 27 and 28. Nine sports car manufacturers are competing for victory. The intensity of this GT3 competition is unrivaled worldwide. Audi celebrated the first overall victory of its R8 LMS customer sports race car in a 24-hour race at Spa two years ago – fielded by Team WRT, driven by Mattias Ekström and his two team-mates Timo Scheider and Greg Franchi. The two-time DTM Champion Ekström is now returning to the historic venue with WRT, running as the team-mate of his Swedish compatriot Edward Sandström. The third in the trio is Audi factory driver Marcel Fässler, the 2011 and 2012 Le Mans winner. Fässler’s Le Mans team-mate André Lotterer is traveling to the Ardennes as well. The German, who grew up in Belgium, is sharing the number ‘2’ R8 LMS ultra with Blancpain Endurance Champion Christopher Mies and last year’s winner Frank Stippler.
The Belgian WRT squad of Team Director Vincent Vosse is putting two other R8 LMS ultra cars on the grid at its home round. Rahel Frey, as in the other rounds of the Blancpain Endurance Series, is sharing the cockpit of a car designated as number ‘0’ with Matt Halliday and Niki Mayr-Melnhof. Stéphane Ortelli, the winner of last year’s Blancpain Endurance Series, is sharing car number ‘1’ with last year’s winner René Rast and with Laurens Vanthoor.
Ernst Moser’s Team Phoenix Racing is competing with its two well-known regular driver line-ups from the Blancpain Endurance Series. Christopher Haase, Champion of the Blancpain Endurance Series, is sharing car number ‘6’ with Harold Primat and Audi factory driver Oliver Jarvis, the GT class winner of the 2013 Daytona 24 Hours. Enzo Ide, Anthony Kumpen and Markus Winkelhock are taking the wheel of the sister car designated as number ’16.’ A seventh Audi R8 LMS ultra will be put on the grid by United Autosports. The Anglo-American privateer team of Richard Dean and Zak Brown is running in the classic race for the fourth consecutive time. In the Pro-Am class, the squad relies on the British drivers Will Bratt and Glynn Geddie, the native Frenchman Alain Li and on Mark Patterson from the United States.
While the fans are watching the race on location along the legendary 7.004-kilometer Ardennes roller-coaster track, viewers at home can look forward to extensive TV coverage this year. The channel Motors TV will air a total of almost 12 hours of direct reports of the action in Belgium. RTL Nitro will carry a 60-minute summary on Sunday night (July 28). Before the Belgian GP, RTL will broadcast another summarized report.
The Audi customer teams at the 2013 Spa 24 Hours
Belgian Audi Club Team WRT
#0 Rahel Frey/Matt Halliday/Niki Mayr-Melnhof (CH/NZ/A)
#1 Stéphane Ortelli/René Rast/Laurens Vanthoor (MC/D/B)
#2 André Lotterer/Christopher Mies/Frank Stippler (D/D/D)
#13 Mattias Ekström/Marcel Fässler/Edward Sandström (S/CH/S)
#6 Christopher Haase/Oliver Jarvis/Harold Primat (D/GB/CH)
#16 Enzo Ide/Anthony Kumpen/Markus Winkelhock (B/B/D)
#125 Will Bratt/Glynn Geddie/Alain Li/Mark Patterson (GB/GB/F/USA)