By Audi Media
• René Rast and Kelvin van der Linde head ADAC GT Masters
• Audi customer teams celebrate one-two in France
• DTM driver Mattias Ekström talks about the season opener at Hockenheim
Ingolstadt – Victorious season opener for the Audi R8 LMS ultra in the French GT Championship and the ADAC GT Masters: Audi customer teams celebrated a win and podium finishes in both championships. In the Pirelli World Challenge in the USA an Audi customer team also took the winners spoils.
At the French GT Championship season opener at Le Mans, Audi customer teams celebrated a one-two: in the first race on Saturday, Henry Hassid and Mike Parisy in the Audi R8 LMS ultra, fielded by Sébastien Loeb Racing, took the lead of the one hour race five minutes before the finish and won from their Audi stablemates David Hallyday and Grégory Guilvert (Saintéloc Racing). In the second race on Sunday, Mathieu Lecuyer and Vincent Abril from Team Speed Car clinched third place and another podium finish for the Audi R8 LMS ultra
After the ADAC GT Masters season opener at Oschersleben, René Rast and Kelvin van der Linde in the Prosperia C. Abt Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra lead the drivers classification by ten points. In the first race on Saturday, the German-South African duo finished second only 0.3 seconds behind the winner. In the second race on Sunday, which was interrupted after an accident involving seven cars at the start, Rast and van der Linde led from pole position to take victory and set the fastest race lap on the way. Kelvin van der Linde is thus the youngest winner of an ADAC GT Masters race.
Podium at the Nürburgring
Narrow decision at the Nürburgring: Marc Basseng, Marcel Fässler and Frank Stippler finished round three of the VLN Endurance Championship in the Audi R8 LMS ultra of Team Phoenix Racing in third place. After 28 race laps in spring-like weather, the trio trailed the winning team by only 11.912 seconds.
Palmer triumphant at Birmingham
Exciting finish: Andrew Palmer in the GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra took the lead on the last lap of the third round of the Pirelli World Challenge at Birmingham. The US American celebrated his first win in the championship by 0.531 seconds.
Second place in Belgium
Podium finish in Belgium: in the opening round of the Belgian Racing Car Championship (BRCC) season at Zolder, defending champions Anthony Kumpen and Bert Longin took second place overall together with their new team mate Franck Belien in the PK Carsport team’s Audi R8 LMS.
Dindo Capello to compete again for Audi Sport Italia
20 years ago, Dindo Capello competed for Audi for the first time and he still represents the brand’s colors in racing. In the 2014 season, the long-standing Audi factory driver and three-time Le Mans winner will be running for Audi Sport Italia again in the Italian GT Championship. Thomas Schöffler from Singen (Germany), last year’s title winner in the GT Sprint Series in the R8 LMS, is part of the team’s line-up as well. The Italians Emanuele Zonzini and Marco Mapelli complete the driver squad this year.
André Lotterer promotes WEC Spa event in Brussels
On Wednesday, Audi factory driver André Lotterer visited the AutoWorld Museum in Brussels ten days before his next race. Together with several driver colleagues, he helped promoting the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship on 3 May at Spa. An Audi R18 e-tron quattro which clinched a 1-2-3 victory at the Spa WEC round last year was an eye-catcher for photographers in the museum’s exhibition hall.
Lotterer second in historic Audi
Audi factory driver André Lotterer treated himself to a private race in his Belgium homeland between the two WEC events at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps: he contested the Belgian Youngtimer Cup at Zolder in an 1981 Audi Coupé and finished second.
World RX and Audi S1 for EKS
RX team EKS, founded and owned by Audi factory driver Mattias Ekström, will enter the 2014 FIA World Rallycross Championship with the brand-new Audi S1 quattro. “We are proud to present the Audi S1 EKS RX Concept. We are developing the car ourselves with great support from talented co-workers and partners throughout Europe,” says Ekström. “Our big hairy goal is to become the best RX-team. For me it is also a personal goal that is about to be realized.” During 2014 EKS will participate in as many races as possible in the World Championship. “We see 2014 as a year of research and development for the team,” says Ekström, “but of course we also want to win races.” Pontus Tidemand will be the ‘No 1’ driver of EKS. The Swede was born in 1990 and became Junior World Rally Champion 2013. During week 21 (May 19-23) EKS will reveal everything about the team, the partners and the wild card drivers. By then the team will also present its complete race calendar.
A word from … Mattias Ekström
As the oldest driver in the field, you’re about to start your 14th DTM season. Does this mean routine is the main name of the game?
“Not at all. While I do think it’s incredible to be the DTM ‘senior’ at a mere age of 35, I’m starting to acquire a taste for the role. I can still remember arriving at Hockenheim as a young gun 14 years ago, determined to make believers out of the old hands. Since then, I’ve gathered a lot of experience, clinched a few victories and titles, and now I’m the one the young drivers are aiming to beat. That’s a new chapter in my career in which I’d still like to prove quite a bit.”
You’ve won the Hockenheim season opener twice – what are the key factors?
“Aside from the fact that the Hockenheim track simply suits me well you need a special attitude for the first race of the year. You shouldn’t be overly ambitious but have to be completely relaxed, trusting yourself and your team. I know that we did our homework over the past months, so I’m totally cool and full of eager anticipation.”
What does your personal preparation for the first race look like?
“Completely different than usual. For the first time in a long, long while I’ve spent a whole long weekend just with my partner – without our children, without our dogs and without motorsport. These phases are often neglected in the hectic DTM season, but are incredibly good for you.”
You just presented your own rallycross team. What influence does this sideline job have on your DTM commitment?
“It’s definitely a positive influence. Clearly, the DTM and Audi are my priorities. But I’ve always enjoyed taking a peek into other racing series, to get to know new people and ways of working. Having the chance to do something different between DTM weekends, tests and working with my team makes me feel happy and relaxed. And it gives me new energy for the next race.”
Coming up next week
03/05 Spa (B), WEC, round 2 04/05 Hockenheim (D), DTM, round 1 04/05 Inje (ROK), GT Asia, round 1 04/05 Laguna Seca (USA), Tudor United SportsCar Championship, round 1 04/05 Fuji (J), Super GT, round 2 05/05 Rockingham (GB), British GT Championship, round 2