Motorsport Newsletter 16/2012: World premiere for “Truth in 24 II”
· Fascinating documentary about Audi’s tenth victory at Le Mans
Ingolstadt, Germany – Everyone was focused on Hockenheim this weekend where the eagerly awaited opening round of the 2012 DTM was staged. Yet from Audi Sport’s perspective Los Angeles, the Nürburgring and Shanghai were interesting venues as well.
Podium at “dress rehearsal”: The third round of the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring had to be stopped early due to an accident. The two new Audi R8 LMS ultra from Phoenix Racing were classified in positions two (Christopher Mies/Markus Winkelhock) and four (Marc Basseng/Christopher Haase/Frank Stippler) at the event that served as a “dress rehearsal” for the 24-hour race on May 19/20.
Waldi’s DTM Club: Cult TV sports presenter Waldemar Hartmann and comedian Matze Knop provided superb entertainment and kept their audience in stitches during “Waldi’s DTM Club” at the Audi Team & Media Hospitality on the occasion of the DTM season opener at Hockenheim. Together with Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich and the two Audi DTM stars Mattias Ekström and Timo Scheider they “analyzed” the current DTM action and revealed a number of interesting details – for instance that Mattias Ekström is not interested in soccer and that Timo Scheider is a big fan of Borussia Dortmund. During his act Matze Knop imitated Niki Lauda, Jogi Löw, Franz Beckenbauer, Rainer Calmund and Lothar Matthäus, among others.
Celebrities galore: The DTM opener not only attracted 142,000 spectators to the Hockenheimring, as numerous celebrities came to visit Audi as well – first and foremost Alexandra Maria Lara, who like her husband and actor colleague Sam Riley enjoyed a ride in the Audi A4 DTM race taxi. Also seen at the Audi Lounge and the Audi Team & Media Hospitality were artistic gymnast Philipp Boy, actors Ralf Bauer, Daniel Brühl and Fritz Wepper, “Germany’s Next Top Model” winner in 2007, Barbara Meier, the former Formula 1 racers Jacky Ickx and Patrick Tambay plus the two-time World Rally Champion and former Audi factory driver Walter Röhrl.
High-level visitor: Jean Todt, President of the FIA, visited the DTM season opener at Hockenheim and was obviously impressed with the most popular international touring car racing series in which Audi is competing as the title defender. Todt was accompanied by ADAC Sport President Hermann Tomczyk and the new DMSB President Hans-Joachim Stuck, who in 1990 at the wheel of an Audi V8 quattro clinched the first of so far eight DTM titles for Audi.
Time traveler: Markus Winkelhock embarked on a small time journey this weekend. On Saturday, he drove the new Audi R8 LMS ultra at the VLN race on the Nürburgring and on Sunday the 1990 Audi V8 quattro during the Audi Drive Away at Hockenheim.
Taxi driver: Daniel Abt has a new sideline job. The Lotus GP3 racer and son of DTM Team Director Hans-Jürgen Abt takes the wheel of the Audi DTM race taxi this year whenever the 19-year-old driver’s calendar allows him to do so.
DTM continues to be aired on “Das Erste”: The long-standing cooperation between the ITR e.V., which owns and markets the DTM rights, and TV partner ARD was extended by another two years. This means that the DTM will continue to be aired live on German television on “Das Erste” until at least the end of 2014. For 2015, an option to extend was agreed. Reelected for another two years was the five-member ITR board, which includes Jürgen Pippig (AUDI AG) and Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline). As Head of Audi Motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich is a member of the advisory council.
Success in France: At the French GT3 Championship season opener at Lédenon in the south of France Grégory Guilvert and Paul Lamic won Sunday’s race in the Audi R8 LMS ultra of the Sainteloc team. The duo was forced to retire in the second race on Sunday.
Podium in Portugal: At the wet Spanish GT Championship season opener at Portimão the two vehicles of the Novadriver team took podium positions. In Saturday’s race the Portuguese Manuel Giao and Carlos Vieira in the Audi R8 LMS ultra finished in front of their team-mates César Campaniço and Mikko Eskelinen as the runners-up in the GTSE class. On Sunday, Giao and Vieira clinched another second place.
New 24-hour trophy: The ADAC automobile club and race organizer SRO have incepted a new “24-Hour Trophy.” The trophy rewards the three GT3 teams showing the best aggregate results of the Nürburgring 24 Hours and the Spa-Francorchamps 24 Hours. No less than seven Audi R8 LMS ultra cars will be on the Nürburgring grid on May 19/20. At Spa, Audi celebrated overall victory last year, thus returning to the Ardennes on July 28/29 as the title defender.
Glorious group: On Tuesday, Audi UK hosted the Second Annual Audi UK Writers and Drivers Event at Goodwood House. Lord March, the owner of the impressive facility, met with Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich and his factory drivers Oliver Jarvis, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish. Also in attendance were the former rally drivers Stig Blomqvist and Harald Demuth, sports car racers Richard Attwood, Mark Blundell, Andy Wallace, James Weaver and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason. Leena Gade, Kyle Wilson-Clarke and Howden Haynes, three race engineers from Audi’s sports car program would not miss the evening either. The number “2” Audi R18 TDI that was victorious at Le Mans last year and parked in front of the clubhouse was another star of the evening.
Double commitments: For Audi Sport, next weekend will mark one of several double commitments in the 2012 season. In parallel to the DTM at the Lausitzring, the second round of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) will be held at Spa-Francorchamps. Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich will travel to Spa first and then be on location at the Lausitzring from Friday on. His role at Spa will be taken over by Dieter Gass, who has been Head of Racing Commitments at Audi Sport since January 1.
Press conference: The organizer of the ADAC 24-hour race at the Nürburgring is hosting a press conference at “Koelnmesse” on Wednesday. At “Congress-Centrum Nord” Frank Stippler and Markus Winkelhock, who will be contesting the endurance race on May 19 and 20 in the Audi R8 LMS ultra, will be featured as well.
A word from … Mattias Ekström
And in terms of the sport: Were you expecting such a balanced field of the three brands in qualifying?
You started into the season with the pole position and a podium finish – are you pleased?
As early as next weekend the next opportunity will present itself. What will your days be like until then?
Coming up next week