67 prototypes and GT sports cars will be tackling the 24-hour race at Daytona on Saturday at 14:10 local time (20:10 CET). For Audi, the iconic North American endurance race opens the 2014 GT season with the race debut of the new U.S. version of the Audi R8 LMS.
29 entrants and six brands make the GT Daytona category for production-based GT sports cars the class with the largest number of participants in the race. Four Audi customer teams, including Paul Miller as one of the largest Audi dealerships in the USA, are fielding a total of five Audi R8 LMS cars this weekend. The mid-engine sports car was further developed by Audi Sport customer racing for the new GT Daytona category and is immediately starting from the pole position in its first race.
In an extremely thrilling qualifying session, the fastest six GT Daytona sports cars were within 89 thousandths of a second of each other and the best 20 within one second. Haase, on his fifth lap, relegated the Ferrari of Toni Vilander, which had been leading up to that point, to position two by 0.055s. Oliver Jarvis in the Audi R8 LMS of Fall-Line Motorsports trailed him in third place by only another 0.022s.
Nelson Canache jr. and Dion von Moltke secured grid positions 21 and 23 for the Flying Lizard Motorsports team. Marc Basseng in the Audi R8 LMS of GMG Racing, after a spin in the chicane, took position 24 – with a gap of only 1.408s.
The 52nd running of the Daytona 24 Hours marks the beginning of a new era in U.S. sports car racing. It is the first race after the American Le Mans Series merged with the GRAND-AM to form the new Tudor United SportsCar Championship (TUSCC). In the United States, FOX Network airs live coverage from Daytona, in Europe MotorsTV. The website www.imsa.com offers live radio and live timing.
When the race starts, the production Audi R8 V10 will make an entrance as well: The mid-engine sports car is used as the safety car at Daytona and will be leading the impressive field into the new era of U.S. sports car racing. Last year, Audi celebrated a one-two victory in the GT class at Daytona.
Romolo Liebchen (Head of Audi Sport customer racing): “Obviously, we’re extremely happy with this result – it’s the first pole position for Audi at Daytona. Being on grid positions one and three in such a large field with such close time gaps is simply brilliant. But we shouldn’t misjudge the other cars on some of the more rearward positions because they’re not that far away in terms of the times they set. It looks like a good solution has been found for rating the different cars. This promises a thrilling race.”
Christopher Haase (Audi R8 LMS #48/Paul Miller Racing): “It’s a great feeling to be on the pole position at Daytona. Of course that’s not what’s going to decide the race, but for the first hour it’ll definitely be helpful. The team did a superb job: Our car was good from the beginning and we further improved it in the right direction. We can be very pleased and I’m already looking forward to the race start.”
1 Bell/Haase/Miller/Rast (Audi R8 LMS) 1m 46.973s
2 Balzan/Westphal/Vilander/Case (Ferrari) 1m 47.028s
3 Espenlaub/Jarvis/Putman/Walker (Audi R8 LMS) 1m 47.050s
4 Longo/Serra/Negrao/Gomes (Ferrari) 1m 47.052s
5 Block/Carter/Davis/Davison (Aston Martin) 1m 47.055s
6 Tucker/Sweedler/Bell/Segal/Pier Guidi (Ferrari) 1m 47.062s
21 Canache jr./Pappas/Pumpelly/Winkelhock (Audi R8 LMS) 1m 48.045s
23 Albuquerque/Latif/Neiman/von Moltke (Audi R8 LMS) 1m 48.140s
24 Basseng/Sofronas/Stippler/Welch (Audi R8 LMS) 1m 48.381s
Note to media: On Friday, at 2 p.m., the drivers and team managers of the Audi customer teams, Romolo Liebchen (Head of Audi Sport customer racing) and Jürgen Zürn (Head of Production and Test, Audi Sport customer racing) will be available for individual interviews at a ‘Meet the Audi customer teams’ event at the Press Conference Room of the Media Center.
A PDF version of the ‘Audi Sport customer racing 2014’ booklet is available now for downloading at www.audi-motorsport.info. An interactive tablet version is available in the ‘Audi Express’ app at iTunes and Google Play.
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