Only one of seven customer sports cars in the forward part of the field. Stéphane Ortelli/René Rast/Laurens Vanthoor on grid position ten. Current balance of performance dramatically slows the R8 LMS ultra.
Ingolstadt/Spa, July 26, 2013 The winner of the past two editions of the Spa 24 Hours is facing a difficult task in this years race. Only one of the seven Audi R8 LMS ultra cars made it into the super pole qualifying session of the 20 best squads.
Behind him, the picture was clear as well. Five Audi R8 LMS ultra cars qualified within 315 thousandths of a second and thus showed a very cohesive performance. However, in grid rows 14, 15, 16 and 18, they were lacking between 1.978 and 2.293 seconds to the top in qualifying on Thursday. Phoenix Racing with Markus Winkelhock (D) as the fastest driver of car number 16 took 27th place, his team-mate Christopher Haase (D) thirtieth. They were directly trailed by the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT with Christopher Mies (D) and Mattias Ekström (S). Matt Halliday in the fourth WRT Audi achieved position 35. Team United Autosports competing in the Pro-Am category with Glynn Geddie (GB) took grid position 53 in the field of 65 entrants.
While the Audi R8 LMS ultra had no chance in the pace across one lap in qualifying, the teams, in the race, are placing their trust in the known reliability of the customer sports car from Heilbronn-Biberach and the support by Audi Sport customer racing. The 65th running of the classic endurance race in the Ardennes starts on Saturday at 16:30 and can be watched at www.audi-motorsport.com by live streaming. The TV channel Motors is airing almost twelve hours of direct coverage of the action, RTL Nitro will broadcast a summary on Sunday night at 19:15.
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): The results in qualifying speak a clear language. Were supporting the program of the customer teams with our two-time Le Mans winners Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer as well as with the Spa winner and two-time DTM Champion Mattias Ekström. Our well-known GT specialists are on board as well, who have won the Blancpain Endurance titles plus the races at Spa, at the Nürburgring, at Bathurst and at Daytona. None of them managed to be in contention even close to the front of the field. Teams WRT and Phoenix won the race in the past two years. And the Audi R8 LMS ultra is a race car that has won races worldwide. This year, things are being made extremely difficult for us due to the rating. Were expecting a very tough race. Despite these factors were hoping to be able to contribute our part to the suspense.
Dirk Spohr (Head of Customer Management): Were supporting our customer teams at the most important GT3 race of the year again with hands-on help and advice this year, a parts service on location and our infrastructure for customer sport. However, its obvious that the best teams, a first-class GT3 race car and drivers who are known to be good have not been in contention in the battle for the top this weekend so far. Now were concentrating on moving as far toward the front as possible in the race with the reliability that Audi is known for, an optimum strategy and efficient pit stops.
Laurens Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS ultra #1/Belgian Audi Club Team WRT): Unfortunately, the engine was misfiring on the first lap, apparently caused by the fuel supply. On the second lap, I tried to attack but we havent been satisfied with the cars balance throughout the weekend yet. My car had a bit too much oversteer and I slid into the tire stacks.