Team's two Audis and four VW's put in strong efforts in opening day at Daytona
January 27, 2012 (Daytona Beach, Fla.) - The first day at Daytona for the GRAND-AM season opener is a long one, with several practice sessions as well as qualifying crammed into one busy day at Daytona International Speedway.
With their Audi R8 Grand-Am in the Rolex Series, and an APR-Tuned Audi S4, two VW GTI's, and two VW Jetta GLI's in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, APR's pit area was busy throughout Thursday and was packed for the team's qualifying sessions.
Tasked with qualifying the no. 51 APR Audi R8 Grand-Am for its first race, the 50th Rolex 24 at Daytona, Dion von Moltke laid down a lap good enough for 22nd in a strong field of 41 cars, with a lap time of 1:50.749. Showing the depth of the GT field, von Moltke's time was 1.4 seconds off the pole winning time.
"We are making big, big gains with each session," said von Moltke. "The car definitely feels better even compared to this morning. Bringing Mark Scott on board has really helped, and we made a big change in qualifying that was really positive but I had to change the way I was driving to get the most out of it. But the time that we ran in qualifying wasn't a one-lap wonder; it's a repeatable lap we can run all race long so we are making big improvements with our race pace. We will have a really good car for the Rolex 24 at Daytona."
Nelson Canache, in the no. 41 APR Tuned Audi S4 that he will turn over to Ian Baas, qualified sixteenth in the GS class for his first CTSCC race. Canache is also driving the team's Audi R8 Grand-Am in the Rolex 24 at Daytona this weekend.
"The car was very good, but I am kind of disappointed because I only got one clean lap because of the yellow flag period," said Canache. "But the car was great and we have been working on improvements in each practice. I'm happy with the car and I am ready to race tomorrow."
In the ST class, David Cheng led the way for APR as he put the no. 171 APR Tuned VW GTI ninth on the grid in the ST class, clocking a 2:08.128 in the late afternoon qualifying session. He will share the car with Aleks Altberg.
"We didn't have the fastest car in qualifying, but we have a good race car," said Cheng. "The guys have done a great job setting up the car, and we will be able to out-brake everyone, and get the power down sooner than everyone. If I can have a good start, and stay out of trouble, and give the car to Aleks in a competitive spot, we can get on the podium."
After a difficult day, his teammates Juan Pablo Sierra, in the no. 181 APR Tuned VW Jetta GLI, and Juan Carlos Alvarez in the no. 161 APR Tuned VW GTI, qualified 21st and 33rd, respectively. Sierra will team with Hector Guerrero, while Alvarez will turn the car over to Nate Norenberg. The no. 191 APR Tuned VW Jetta GLI of Daniel LaRiva and Christian Perez did not take part in the qualifying session.
"The car is much better and we made some big improvements in the brakes," said Sierra. "We don't have the best qualifying position, but the car is good. We just have to drive smart and stay out of trouble, stay away from all the crashes, and we can get a good result."
"That was my first session in the car, because of the problem we had in practice," said Alvarez. "I just wanted to learn the track and become familiar with the car, and I need to have more confidence in the car, but I was improving and learning each lap. It will be difficult to race like this, but if I can stay on the lead lap, anything is possible."