The Audi R8 LMS ultra forced to retire in 20th hour after great first half race
It wasn’t to be: the G-Drive Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra could not finish the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring, as mechanical problems forced it to retirement on Sunday morning, shortly after passing the 20th hour mark.
It was a frustrating outcome for the WRT-prepared car and the four drivers, Roman Rusinov, Stéphane Ortelli, Edward Sandström and Nico Müller, as they could have hoped on a very positive result. Once again, though, the endurance classic on the 27 km of the mythical Nordschleife, arguably one of the toughest races in the world, took its toll.
The #17 Audi had qualified, with Edward Sandström at the wheel, in an excellent 17th position out of 167 entries. The race started at 4 pm on Saturday, with excellent weather and track conditions, and Müller, Ortelli, Rusinov and Sandström took the wheel in that sequence for a series of single stints followed then by double stints.
Everything ran well in the first part of the race, with the car maintaining a good pace, experiencing no trouble and running as high as 8th, always on the same lap as the leader.
Unfortunately, in the middle of the night, a raise of temperature of the gearbox oil obliged to change the gearbox, an intervention that was performed in only 39 minutes. The car was climbing back through the field when it was hit by new mechanical issues; eventually, it was a broken drive-shift, an issue that hit also other R8s, that left it stranded on the track around 11 am on Sunday morning.
A crew of mechanics was dispatched to the spot where the car had stopped, but could do nothing to revive it and the team could only make the retirement official.
The G-Drive Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra will be back on track, with roman Rusinov-Stéphane Ortelli, on 5-6 July in Zandvoort (Netherlands) for the third round of the Blancpain Sprint Series.
Roman Rusinov: “I prefer to look at the positive out of this race. For almost half of the race, we were on the rhythm of the leader and we had excellent pace. The car was running perfectly and the drivers were performing an excellent and faultless race. Unfortunately, mechanical problems arose and that was beginning of the end. This is endurance racing and we know how difficult this race is. Now we have to look ahead and to our commitments in the Blancpain Sprint.”
Vincent Vosse, Team Principal: “We are certainly disappointed by the retirement, but that’s racing, and we will have to analyse, together with Audi, what happened. I am happy, though, of the team and the drivers, who all did an excellent work, and of the pace we showed, being among the fastest Audis on track. We have proven that we are acquiring the necessary experience on this very peculiar and tough race, and we will build on that for the future editions.”