The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT will not forget its first time in the “Green Hell”. The 24 Hours of the Nürburgring, for its 40th edition, kept all his promises, proving once again to possibly be the toughest race in the world and one of the major motorsports events for the fans. The Belgian squad, for its debut in this very special race, did well, bringing to the finish line the R8 officially entered on this occasion by Speedhunters Team WRT. The final position, 32nd, does not really reflect the potential expressed, as the car was among top contenders for almost half of the race. Unfortunately, it was slowed down twice, by a race incident first and a mechanical intervention later on, two things that are among the predictable events occurring during the long run at the Nordschleife. Most importantly, Edward Sandström, Allan Simonsen, Andrea Piccini and Oliver Jarvis, as well as the entire team, can be proud of the work achieved and of having contributed to Audi’s first success in this legendary race, as the R8s of the Phoenix and Mamerow teams took a memorable 1-2 win.
Few moments after the race finished, Team WRT Team Principal Vincent Vosse gathered his almost exhausted troops for a well deserved sip of champagne. “To finish such a tough race is always an achievement”, concluded Vosse. “We have had the proof that this is a race like no other in motorsports, and that you cannot get here and win at the first attempt. I am extremely satisfied of the performance of our drivers and our team. It’s a good result for a first participation. The only thing I can say is that I am very happy that WRT has been part of this historic day for Audi and that we ourselves will definitely be back!”
The success of the Audi R8, the maiden one for the Ingolstadt manufacturer, also is a perfect farewell present for Dr. Werner Frowein, the head of Quattro GmbH, responsible for the development of the customer R8s, who retires after these 24 Hours.
The Belgian Audi, after qualifying 11th, had a good start of the race, running as high as 6th, before losing some time during a refuel for a malfunctioning of the fuel station. It then stabilized in P8 in the first hours of the night, during which drivers did double stints. Unfortunately, at 1:50, Andrea Piccini had a contact with a slower car, which resulted in a 33-minute stop in the pits for repairing the steering rack. Early morning hours saw the rain appearing in some parts of the circuit, making difficult the tire choice but the WRT car continued to climb positions. In the final hour, a problem with a bearing kept it again in the pits for a while, finishing eventually 32nd. “It’s a pity we had this couple of issues”, summarized Andrea Piccini, “because we had a good pace and we weren’t far from the very top, but this kind of things happen. The contact I had during the night with an Aston GT4 was really stupid. It changed its line when I was passing it, I went with two wheels on the grass to avoid contact, but still, we touched slightly. It wasn’t a hard contact, because the body of my car was ok, but unfortunately a rim got broken and the steering rack was damaged. Apart from that, everything was great and I take away the excellent job made by the team and the excellent cooperation between all the Audi teams.”
The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is now retaking its ‘normal duties”, with the third round of the FIA GT1 World taking place at Navarra, Spain next weekend, followed one week later by the second round of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Silverstone.
24 Hours of the Nürburgring Results
1. Basseng-Haase-Stippler-Winkelhock (Audi R8 LMS ultra) - 155 laps2. Mamerow-Abt-Ammermüller-Hahne (Audi R8 LMS ultra) - 155 laps3. Frankehout-Simonsen-Kaffer-Arnold (Mercedes SLS AMG) - 155 laps4. Martin-Leinders-Palttala (BMW Z4) – 154 laps5. Fässler-Mies-Stippler-Rast (Audi R8 ultra) – 151 laps32. Sandström-Jarvis-Piccini-Simonsen (Audi R8 LMS ultra) – 135 laps