Best Audi customer on grid position 20 at Spa

A changed technical rating of the Audi R8 LMS ultra that, with a tally of 18 title wins has been extremely successful, has significant effects in this season. Audi’s customer sport race car has won the Blancpain Endurance Series twice in succession since 2011. Now, the balance of performance has clearly slowed the car. In the last race of the series at Le Castellet, only one of the nine Audi driver squads managed the leap into the top ten. At the season’s pinnacle event at Spa, Laurens Vanthoor in the WRT Audi designated as car number ‘1,’ achieved grid position 20 in the super-pole qualifying session. The Belgian took a high risk and touched a tire stack which damaged the rear wing of the Audi R8 LMS ultra.

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 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.

Selected quotes

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “The results in qualifying speak a clear language. We’re 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. We’re expecting a very tough race. Despite these factors we’re hoping to be able to contribute our part to the suspense.”

Dirk Spohr (Head of Customer Management): “We’re 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, it’s 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 we’re 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 haven’t been satisfied with the car’s balance throughout the weekend yet. My car had a bit too much oversteer and I slid into the tire stacks.”

Qualifying results

1 Adam/Howard/McKenzie/Mücke (Aston Martin #99) 2m 20.675s
2 Basov/Bobbi/Guidi/Skryabin (Ferrari #70) 2m 20.902s
3 Buhk/Götz/Schneider (Mercedes #84) 2m 20.917s
4 Catsburg/Moser/Palttala (BMW #4) 2m 21.100s
5 Holzer/Mapelli/Tandy (Porsche #911) 2m 21.219s
6 Cameron/Griffin/Mortimer/Vilander (Ferrari #59) 2m 21.249s
7 Baguette/Campbell-Walter/Turner (Aston Martin #100) 2m 21.293s
8 Buurman/Leinders/Martin (BMW #3) 2m 21.297s
9 Lieb/Lietz/Pilet (Porsche #150) 2m 21.313s
10 Dusseldorp/Parente/Sims (McLaren #7) 2m 21.543s

20 Ortelli/Rast/Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS ultra #1) 2m 23.342s
27 Ide/Kumpen/Winkelhock (Audi R8 LMS ultra #16) 2m 22.361s
30 Haase/Jarvis/Primat (Audi R8 LMS ultra #6) 2m 22.408s
31 Lotterer/Mies/Stippler (Audi R8 LMS ultra #2) 2m 22.608s
32 Ekström/Fässler/Sandström (Audi R8 LMS ultra #13) 2m 22.617s
35 Frey/Halliday/Mayr-Melnhof (Audi R8 LMS ultra #0) 2m 22.676s
53 Bratt/Geddie/Li/Patterson (Audi R8 LMS ultra #125) 2m 24.836s

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