United AutoSports confirms Audi-powered Bathurst 12 Hour Assault

No stranger to endurance; United AutoSports entered three R8 LMS GT3s in the 2011 Spa 24 hour event. - Image courtesy United AutoSports.

No stranger to endurance; United AutoSports entered three R8 LMS GT3s in the 2011 Spa 24 hour event. - Image courtesy United AutoSports.

Anglo-American sportscar squad, United AutoSports today announced details concerning their 2012 season programme. Within which, the team released details of plans to enter Australia’s Bathurst 12 hour event, in addition to both Dubai and Abu Dhabi 24 hour events.

News of the team’s continued utilisation of Audi’s R8 LMS GT3 chassis may come as a surprise to some. Given the squad’s well-documented dealings with McLaren, and previously announced plans to enter the marque’s recently released MP4-12C GT3 chassis in the 2012 Blancpain Endurance series. Despite this, the team has confirmed a single R8 LMS entry for the aforementioned events.

Details of expected driver lineups for each event are yet to be announced. Based on past appearances, and the team’s operating ethos, a lineup of high-profile runners is considered a reasonable expectation.

United AutoSports’ current competition portfolio spans British GT, FIA GT3, and Blancpain Endurance series, in addition to select endurance events across the world. The outfit most recently competed in the American Le Mans Series’ 14th annual Petit Le Mans event, securing an  LMP2 class podium on its series, and LMP competition debut, with an OAK Pescarolo-Judd package.

The British-based outfit’s announcement of participation in the 2012 running of the Bathurst 12 hour arrives following the confirmation of multiple high calibre entries, ranging from Audi factory affiliate, Phoenix racing, to local privateer competitors, Maranello Motorsport. Additional manufacturers are reportedly evaluating participation at present.

The following statements were provided (in relation to the announcement) during an interview with Speed.com reporter, John Dagys:

UAS CEO and team owner, Zak Brown:

“We couldn’t find a better way of moving into our third year as a racing team than by competing in such classics as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bathurst; three exciting endurance events which are considered a ‘must do’ for any aspiring racer. It’s also a fitting way to continue our relationship with Audi into 2012.”

UAS Managing Director/co-owner, Richard Dean: 

“United Autosports is a 52-week a year business and the goal is to have the top GT racing team in the world. In only two years United Autosports has built a reputation in which top drivers want to race with us, and now we’re offering them the opportunity to compete with our highly-motivated team, which is competing worldwide.

We want to have a dominant presence at every circuit we go to and these three exciting classic events are next on our calendar.”

LM24: Audi survives Peugeot onslaught.

A short-lived, full-strength Audi charge leads the field for the opening lap of the 2011 race. - Image courtesy John Dagys.

After the intensity of Friday’s final qualifying session, any prediction that 2011 would be the tightest in recent history would be validated soon after. Although fraught with attrition, drama, searing intensity and many hours of caution periods, the event failed to disappoint.

Delivering stunning battles on virtually all fronts, the 2011 rendition of the race will likely be remembered for years to come as one of the closest-fought ever.

Intensity in the battle for outright honours was felt early for many at the head of the field. Audi’s hopes for defending victory suffered a massive blow during the early stages of the race.

Departure of the team’s #3 machine of McNish, Kristensen and Capello within the first hour, following a violent incident involving Luxury Racing’s Anthony Beltoise, had left many stunned. To the relief of all onlookers, McNish would walk away from the incident with little more than minor bruising.

Audi's Alan McNish walks away from Saturday afternoon's horrific crash. - Image courtesy Audisport.

Audi's Alan McNish walks away from Saturday afternoon's horrific crash. - Image courtesy Audisport.

A second horrific incident involving the #1 entry of reigning champion, Mike Rockenfeller and the #71 AF-Corse machine of Rob Kauffmann would occur during the eighth hour. The incident occurring as Rockenfeller attempted to pass Kauffmann on the high-speed section of the circuit between Mulsanne and Indianapolis.

Kauffmann later claimed the brightness of the R18’s headlights lead to his being unable to prepare for Rockenfeller’s attempted passing, and consequently made contact with the Audi driver at considerable speed. Rockenfeller would also escape from the wreckage uninjured – both incidents a testament to the build quality of Audi’s R18 chassis.

Remaining remnants of Rockenfeller's high-speed collision; Audi's second of the day. - Image courtesy Jean-Francois Monier.

Remaining remnants of Rockenfeller's high-speed collision; Audi's second major incident of the day. - Image courtesy Jean-Francois Monier.

Later analysis of the incident led officials to believe the #71 was at fault. Although allowing the AF-Corse-run entry to continue, race officials would take action against Kauffmann, excluding the American driver from the remainder of the event. The #71 would later retire.

Following the subsequent retirement of reigning champions Rockenfeller, Dumas and Bernhard, Audi’s hopes for a tenth Le Mans victory lied solely on the shoulders of young driving trio Treluyer, Lotterer, and Fassler in the #2 machine.

Audi #2 cruises Mulsanne with an evident lack of support; A much repeated scene throughout the remainder of the event. - Image courtesy AudiSport.

Audi #2 cruises Mulsanne with an evident lack of support; A much repeated scene throughout the remainder of the event. - Image courtesy AudiSport.

Hassled by a full-strength Peugeot onslaught throughout the remainder of the race, Audi’s young trio seldom faltered. Electing to quadruple-stint its driving trio (3-4 hours) to minimise time spent in pitlane, the marque faced an epic battle against both the scale and fuel efficiency of Peugeot’s attack.

With the French manufacturer capable of 12 lap stints, and Audi often running 11 laps within the same period, differences in operating efficiency would often be justified through outright pace and daring tyre strategy.

AudiSport pit strategy once again played a vital role in the team's success. - Image courtesy AudiSport.

AudiSport pit strategy once again played a vital role in the team's success. - Image courtesy AudiSport.

Late race drives by Treluyer and Lotterer would particularly impress the scale of Audi’s undertaking. With both drivers navigating slower traffic in an almost-manic fashion, pushing the very limits of grip afforded by sections of the 13.6 km circuit.

Despite spirited efforts from the Peugeot onslaught the #2 would never stray far from the overall lead. For a short period onlookers remained silent as race officials summoned Audi #2 engineer, Leena Gade to the stewards office with a tone of urgency on Sunday morning. This would prove to be of little consequence.

Having been seemingly immune to periods of carnage affecting virtually all competitors, cracks began to appear in Peugeot’s then-unhampered showing.

Bourdais commandeers Peugeot #9; later revealed as the marque's last hope for victory. - Image courtesy FotoOlaf

Bourdais commandeers Peugeot #9; later revealed as the marque's last hope for victory. - Image courtesy FotoOlaf

As Peugeot’s efforts began to falter, the prospect of victory, regardless of how close, would begin to slip out of reach. Oreca’s privately-entered 908 HDi-FAP would prove first to stagger during the night. As rapid Frenchman, Loic Duval damaged the team’s chassis on Mulsanne. Only barely managing to limp the injured car back to pitlane for repairs.

This scenario was later repeated with little under three hours remaining, as Duval experienced a second spin at Indianapolis under dampening conditions, further damaging the rear of the chassis.

The manufacturer’s all French squad of Sarrazin, Montagny and Minassian in the #8 found themselves the recipients of a drive-through penalty for a lack of respect toward circuit limits during the early morning hours.

The #8 Peugeot crew's efforts would be hampered by a late-race penalty. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

The #8 Peugeot crew's efforts would be hampered by a late-race penalty. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

Shortly after the #7 car of Davidson, Wurz and Gene would be damaged in a late race incident at Indianapolis, inflicting injury to the nose of the chassis. Enthusiastic repair efforts allowed the #7 to secure a face-saving fourth overall. Only out-placing the damage-plagued efforts of Oreca, who would manage fifth overall – marginally ahead of highest placing petrol contenders.

As the sole, remaining Peugeot on the lead lap, Pagenaud, Bourdais and Lamy – arguably the marque’s least favoured entry, found themselves in a position of opportunity. With the driver cycle broken, Pagenaud would be ceded to take the #9 to the checkered.

Lotterer brings the #2 Audi to pitlane for post-race celebrations. - Image courtesy AudiSport.

Lotterer brings the #2 Audi to pitlane for post-race celebrations. - Image courtesy AudiSport.

Despite the employment of questionable tactics from Pagenaud’s sister cars in the dying stages of the race, the #2 Audi proved an unstoppable force. With Lotterer at the helm, the German marque powered to one of the closest and, with little doubt, most emotional finishes in the event’s 79 year history.

Lotterer ultimately taking victory over Pagenaud by a margin of 13.854 seconds, covering a distance of 355 laps. The win marking a record tenth victory for Audi (from twelve starts). Allowing the Ingolstadt-based marque to oust Ferrari as the second-most successful marque ever, in terms of overall victories.

Neel Jani brings the remaining #12 Rebellion Lola-Toyota to the finish in sixth overall. - Image courtesy Lola Group.

Neel Jani brings the remaining #12 Rebellion Lola-Toyota to the finish in sixth overall. - Image courtesy Lola Group.

A fierce battle would also be contested within the LMP1 petrol contingent, involving Le Mans Series regulars, Pescarolo and Rebellion. Despite a clear focus on operational efficiency, both squads would face off against one another in an intense duel, exchanging the lead on many occasions throughout the race.

Pescarolo’s prospects suffered a cruel blow in the later stages of the race. With long-time Pescarolo stalwart, Collard falling victim to a race-ending shunt through the Porsche curves within two hours of the finish.

Rebellion Racing’s remaining #12 Lola-Toyota of Jani, Prost, and Bleekemolen would inherit the position vacated by Pescarolo’s retirement. The squad going on to secure sixth overall to place highest of the LMP1 petrol runners.

Kronos Racing’s seventh overall finish salvaged much-needed pride for an otherwise underhanded showing from British manufacturer, Aston Martin. With both factory AMR entries having bowed out of the race within hour one.

Oreca's factory LMP2 efforts would ultimately be undone as a result of late-race driver error. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

Oreca's factory LMP2 efforts would ultimately be undone as a result of late-race driver error. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

Predictions of an attrition-fraught race for LMP2 runners would turn out be unfounded, with P2 entries providing an intriguing display of mechanical reliability over the duration of the event.

Much of the first twelve hours saw the class lead exchange hands between Oreca-Nissan entries of SignaTech and the Oreca factory, along with reigning LMP2 champions, Strakka Racing’s HPD entry.

As the race developed, favoured HPD-powered entries of Strakka, Level5 and RML experienced minor hindrances. Strakka’s demise ultimately brought about due to damage sustained to the car’s undertray and engine, the result of overzealous kerb usage employed by the team’s drivers.

Both SignaTech and Oreca would also face issues throughout the event. The latter retiring due to an arguably over-ambitious drive by French Oreca driver, Hallyday in the final hours.

A quiet performer; the Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan beat many higher-fancied entries to class victory. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

A quiet performer; the Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan beat many higher-fancied entries to class victory. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

Nissan’s P2 engine package turned to be an unpredicted star of the category. The Zytek-tuned engine package seeing British Team, Greaves Motorsport to its maiden class victory – affording both Nissan and Dunlop their first LMP2 triumphs at Le Mans.

Although likely costing the team a victory, SignaTech’s woes proved not to be terminal. Allowing the squad of Ayari, Mailleux, and Ordoñez to take the checkered second in LMP2. Rounding out a 1-2 finish for the Japanese auto-giant.

Level5 Motorsport trio of Tucker, Bouchut and Barbosa fought against several issues to secure third in class. Salvaging pride for HPD’s already challenging 2011 campaign.

BMW Motorsport #56 leads chasing entries of Felbermayr and Luxury Racing to the start/finish straight. - Image courtesy J. Frauca Photography.

BMW Motorsport #56 leads chasing entries of Felbermayr and Luxury Racing to the start/finish straight. - Image courtesy J. Frauca Photography.

Highlighted by heated exchanges between the Pratt & Miller Corvette outfit, AF-Corse and, of course BMW Motorsport – the now premier GT category of GTE received surprisingly little television coverage over the course of the event.

After blistering performances in the lead up to the race, and during qualifying, BMW Motorsport discovered that outright pace does not seal the deal.

Recurring difficulties and race incidents plagued the Schnitzer squad’s efforts. With both the #55/56 entries encountering issues on a number of occasions.

Having lead from pole in the early stages of the race, the team’s #56 entry of Priaulx, Hand, and (D) Müller would recover to secure a podium finish for the Bavarian marque, with third position in class. The team’s #55 sister car of Farfus, (J) Müller and Werner failed to finish.

Flying Lizard's #80 approaches Tertre Rouge. - Image courtesy Olaf Foto

Flying Lizard's #80 approaches Tertre Rouge. - Image courtesy Olaf Foto

Albeit lacking in single-lap pace, Porsche’s hopes for class victory suffered similar blows. Despite the presence of several all-professional runners within the field, the highest-placed Porsche entry of reigning GT(2) champions, Felbermayr-Proton #77 would finish fourth in class.

Fielding a two car Le Mans assault for the first time, North-American team Flying Lizards also encountered their fair share of difficulties, from tyre punctures to electrical wiring faults. The squad’s #80 GTE-PRO entry of Bergmeister, Long, and Luhr finished the event taking sixth in class. Despite technical hindrances.

Porsche’s luck (or lack of) would persist in the GTE-AM category. After having lead for much of the race, the class-leading #81 Flying Lizard entry of  Neimann, Law, and Pumpelly succumbed to mechanical difficulties in the dying hours of the event.

Late race heroics from P&M #73 narrowly saved Corvette's Le Mans victory. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

Late race heroics from P&M #73 narrowly saved Corvette's Le Mans victory. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

For all the wrong, and right reasons the GT show was stolen by Corvette Racing’s Pratt & Miller-led operation. Having lead its class for most of the race, the US squad’s #74 entry of Magnussen, Gavin and Westbrook left the race in dramatic fashion during the final three hours.

Attempting to correct a corner exit leaving the Porsche curves, Magnussen collided with the #63 GTE-AM Felbermayr-Proton entry, with Felbermayr Snr then at the helm, making direct contact at a considerable speed with the drivers side door.

Magnussen would emerge unscathed. Much to the dismay of onlookers, Horst Felbermayr Snr – the oldest driver in the paddock – would slowly be removed from the battered Porsche chassis before exiting the circuit via ambulance.

Jack Leconte's privateer Larbre Competition squad secured a second victory for Corvette in the GTE-AM category. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

Jack Leconte's privateer Larbre Competition squad secured a second victory for Corvette in the GTE-AM category. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

Then second in class, AF-Corse inherited the GTE-PRO lead. To the dismay of Ferrari fans, this was short lived. Determined not to succumb to a second consecutive dramatic loss, Corvette’s chances for victory improved ten-fold courtesy of a hard-charging Milner in the remaining #73  P&M Corvette.

Milner’s recovery of the class lead soon after would be maintained, securing the US manufacturer’s maiden victory under GTE regulations at Le Mans.

Although providing the new 458 a podium finish on its La Sarthe debut, the #51 crew of Ferrari factory drivers Alesi, Fisichella, and Bruni were left to settle for second-placed finish.

Success at the hands of the Jack Leconte-lead #50 Larbre Corvette squad saw the achievement of a double victory for the US manufacturer. The squad’s French lineup of Bornhauser, Gardel, and Canal triumphant in the GTE-AM category. Affording Corvette consolation for the loss of its second factory machine.

Larbre Competition’s #70 GTE-AM Porsche entry also finished second in class. Rounding out a 1-2 finish for the outfit.

US team Robertson Racing finished third to secure a podium on debut. Also providing the FordGT its first podium at Le Mans in over 40 years.

VLN: Lowndes/Luff rejoin Audi Race Experience for Nürburgring debut.

Lowndes & Luff celebrate their podium finish with fellow team mates following the 2011 Bathurst 12 Hour. - Image courtesy Bathurst12H.

Lowndes & Luff celebrate their podium finish with fellow team mates following the 2011 Bathurst 12 Hour. - Image courtesy Bathurst12H.

Following a highly successful showing at this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour event, V8SC regulars Craig Lowndes and Warren Luff are now set to etch another milestone to their already impressive list of achievements.

Having achieved a second-placed finish on their maiden appearance with Audi’s R8 GT3 chassis, the duo appear to have stamped quite an impression in the sportscar racing fraternity.

After successfully integrating with the AudiSport operation on their debut, both drivers have been selected for an additional appearance with the marque.

Despite originally being selected for the Bathurst 12 hour event on a standalone basis, the Australian pairing have now secured a further competitive outing with the AudiSport (Race Experience Team Joest) squad.

On this occasion the Australian duo will make their paired Nürburgring debut, competing in the SP9 (GT3) category within Germany’s highly-competitive VLN endurance series.

Despite Lowndes having never driven the Nürburgring, the event marks Luff’s third appearance at the legendary circuit. With Luff’s most recent, competitive outing having been with (the now down-scaled) Australian-based Juniper Racing, during the 2008 edition of the Nürburgring 24 hour event.

Lowndes and Luff will take command of the R8 LMS GT3 chassis once more, rejoining the Odenwald-based outfit for a four hour event at round four of the VLN (Langstreckenmeisterschaft) series this May (27/28).

Audi Race Experience Team Joest secures 1-2 Bathurst 12 Hour finish.

O'Young/Lowndes take 1-2 finish for Audi Race Experience Team Joest on Bathurst 12 Hour debut. - Image Courtesy Audi Motorsport

The inaugural running of the overhauled Bathurst 12 Hour event concluded late Sunday afternoon and, despite initial negativity from the event’s touring car stalwarts, the mixed field of 27 GT and Touring competitors failed to disappoint.

With many fans claiming this year’s rendition of the event was ‘the best so far’, the subsequent influx of praise received from both local and global viewers is as good a sign as any event organisers may have struck the note its audience believe is worth expanding on.

Without the support and presence of Audi Race Experience Team Joest, the inaugural running of the overhauled event could arguably have turned out much differently.

After rounding out their 2010 season with a second-placed finish at the emerging Sepang 12 Hour event in Malaysia, the German squad, based in Odenwald, had committed two entries in the lead up the event and, like most factory outfits, brought with it an entourage of drivers and crew personnel, along with an armory of equipment and famous AudiSport hospitality for their Bathurst debut.

Although arriving at the event with what can be considered a venerable arsenal of driving talent in the crew of Mies, Basseng, O’Young, Lowndes, Luff and Eddy, the outfit faced a battle against both time and preparation.

Despite Joest’s factory driver contingent (Mies/Basseng/O’Young) having never driven the circuit, and Australian drivers Lowndes and Luff having never tested the R8 LMS GT3 before the event’s first practice session, the already seasoned Joest squad faced little difficulty acclimatising  to their surroundings.

The team managed to achieve fastest times in both practice and qualifying sessions. Due to the abstract qualifying format used by event organisers to determine qualifying times (aggregated times) the #7 entry of Lowndes/Luff/Eddy secured outright pole, followed closely by the #8 sister entry of Basseng/Mies/O’Young taking second on the grid, leaving a gaggle of Porsche entries in their wake, lead by the #29 VIP PetFoods GT3-R entry of Craig Baird and Tony/Klark Quinn. The #29 would later be revealed as the sole thorn in the side of Joest’s efforts throughout the race.

Joest's pair of R8 LMS entries lead the field into turn one. - Image courtesy GraphicDakPhotos / Dirk Klynsmith

Joest's pair of R8 LMS entries lead the field into turn one. - Image courtesy GraphicDakPhotos / Dirk Klynsmith

Commencing at 6.15am local time (AEDST), both Joest entries soared to an early lead as many had expected. With the #7 car of Lowndes leading the field during the opening laps of the event before yielding to Basseng in the #8 sister car. Both drivers would run single stints on their first outing.

Joest would opt to return Lowndes and Basseng to pitlane for driver changes early during the second hour, ceding driving duties to Luff and Mies in what would later turn out to be a mammoth opening stint of over two hours for both drivers.

The opening stint for Mies and Luff saw both drivers adapt to their surroundings early, as anticipated. The duo often turning times seconds faster than their closest competitors.

Both Mies/Luff would achieve fastest overall times during the later stages of their stints. The 21 year old German and 2009 FIA-GT3 champion, Mies particularly impressing with his consistently aggressive driving style.

Audis #7/8 traverse the downhill esses in tandem; A scene repeated throughout much of the 12 Hour race. - Image courtesy AusMotive.com

Audis #7/8 traverse the downhill esses in tandem; A scene repeated throughout much of the 12 Hour race. - Image courtesy AusMotive.com

Mies and Luff would later pass control to Canadian ace, Darryl O’Young and Penfold AudiSport team owner, Mark Eddy, in their respective entries to complete the final change of hands in the first cycle of driver changes.

The event now in it’s fourth hour, the #8 of O’Young continued in the lead with Eddy in its wake. With the VIP GT3R entry of Baird in rapid pursuit, Eddy would later relinquish second position, allowing the 41-year old New Zealand national and local Porsche Motorsport stalwart to pursue the leading sister car of O’Young.

Despite O’Young still possessing a commanding lead, the VIP Porsche GT3R of Baird was able to gain significant ground on the Cananadian as both time, and double-stinted tyres wore on.

Baird was later able to capitalise on Joest’s rigidly defined pit strategy, placing the #29 in the overall lead. This pattern of changes would continue for much of the race.

HallMarc Racing engineers work feverishly to repair damage sustained to their #12 GT3 Cup S entry. - Image courtesy Bathurst 12 Hour.

HallMarc Racing engineers work feverishly to repair damage sustained to their #12 GT3 Cup S entry. - Image courtesy Bathurst 12 Hour.

The closing hours of the event saw tension rise across the paddock as several teams aimed to secure well-placed finishes or, in some cases maintain an on-track presence, in the case of both Freestone Corvette and EagleOne Lotus squads.

British GT regulars Lester/Simonsen experienced their fair share of misfortune throughout the day, encountering difficulties with their F430 entry on several occasions.

Racing incidents also plagued the efforts of locally entered contenders SupaBarn and  Hallmarc Racing. With the #69 SupaBarn Porsche GT3 Cup S entry of J.Koundouris/T.Koundouris, and V8SC regular Steve Owen experiencing an early race altercation amongst several other incidents throughout the course of the 12 hour event.

The #12 HallMarc entry of local professionals Cini/Reynolds/Fiore suffered issues on multiple occasions throughout the race, including tyre blowouts and, during the later stages of the event, a race ending shunt on the hill-top section of the circuit known as ‘Skyline.’

Although remaining on the lead lap for over eleven hours and sharing the overall lead on occasion, the efforts of the #29 VIP GT3R entry would ultimately be undone as a result of an unfortunate oversight on the team’s behalf.

Craig Baird positions the VIP PetFoods GT3R for a downhill descent through the esses. - Image courtesy GraphicDakPhotos / Dirk Klynsmith

Craig Baird positions the VIP PetFoods GT3R for a downhill descent through the esses. - Image courtesy GraphicDakPhotos / Dirk Klynsmith

Having not served mandatory pit requirements (minimum of 12x 90sec+ stops for 2010+ GT3-spec machinery) the team would be forced to complete a final stop before taking the flag. The stop leading to the loss of a single lap against both Joest entries. Despite this, #29 VIP PetFoods squad would go on to round out a valiant effort by securing a well deserved third.

Following fault-free outings from both Eddy/Luff in the #7, and the #8 crew of Basseng/Mies, Joest delegated driving duties to Lowndes and O’Young for the closing stages of the race. During the final change over stop both Audis entered pitlane in 1-2 tandem, with Mies having maintained the lead up until the final stop.

After what had been a near infallible showing, O’Young would be cleared for exit before the sister car, with Lowndes now seated at the helm and, in an unfortunate turn of events vaguely reminiscent of Minassian’s Le Mans 2009 spin (within view of the Peugeot pit and hospitality area), the Canadian driver lost control of the #8, faltering at pitlane exit.

The #8 Joest entry of Mies changes hands to O'Young for the final stint of the race. - Image courtesy Audi Motorsport.

The #8 Joest entry of Mies changes hands to O'Young for the final stint of the race. - Image courtesy Audi Motorsport.

This incident saw Lowndes assume the race lead with less than one hour remaining. During this period, the five-time Bathurst 1000 winner would go on to set not only the fastest lap of the race, but of all sessions combined in the form of a 2:09.0861 (lap 267). Sending a clear message to both his team mates, and primary competition.

At this stage many had assumed the #8 (having served its pit requirements) would cruise to the finish. This however, would not be the case. With only fifteen minutes remaining, O’Young would be required to take more fuel in order to see the checkered.

Entering pitlane with only a 50sec margin over the #7 sister car, the #8 crew could spare only minimal time refueling. Fortunately for O’Young, this would prove to be a sufficient margin. Allowing the Canadian to re-enter the race with a ten second margin still in hand.

With less then ten minutes and the race more or less decided, both entries began winding down the remaining laps toward the checkered. As is customary for such finishes, O’Young and Lowndes assembled for a factory formation cruise to the checkered flag.

The victory not only marking Audi’s entry to the winners circle on their Bathurst debut, but as the first winners under new regulations. Etching another milestone to the marque’s already impressive list of achievements and laying down the gauntlet for potential vying manufacturers in future years.

The Joest driving crew of Mies, Basseng, O'Young, Luff, Lowndes, and Eddy celebrate following the podium presentation. - Image courtesy AusMotive.com

The Joest driving crew of Mies, Basseng, O'Young, Luff, Lowndes, and Eddy celebrate their 1-2 victory. - Image courtesy AusMotive.com

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AudiSport Team Joest Announces Bathurst 12 Hour Assault.

 

Audi Race Experience Team Joest completes a stop during the Merdeka Millenium 12H Race at Sepang, earlier this year. - Image Courtesy KahlilPhotography.com

AudiSport Team Joest have today announced plans for a 2011 assault on Australia’s Bathurst 12 Hour event. In a collaborative agreement with local team and regular AusGT competitors Penfold AudiSport, Joest confirmed its support for two Audi R8 LMS GT3 entries.

Following a second place finish at the emerging Sepang 12H event earlier this year, the announcement arrives at a time when Joest attempt to expand their customer sport portfolio, with the illustrious firm now offering its factory-support services to AudiSport customers around the world.

Driver lineups for the event were also unveiled. The squad’s first entry consisting entirely of locally-sourced drivers, with Penfold AudiSport team owner, Mark Eddy partnering reigning Bathurst 1000 champion Craig Lowndes, and V8SC endurance specialist, Warren Luff. Despite a lack of prior experience with Audi’s R8 LMS, both Lowndes/Luff are arguably the most suitable candidates for such an undertaking as a result of race miles alone, accrued on the legendary circuit.

Craig Lowndes responded to the announcement with the following statement:

“Team Joest and Audi Sport have a reputation for being the best in the business, much like Team Vodafone in V8 Supercars, so when they rang it was impossible to say no! I’m excited to be joining the works Audi team for this race and to be teaming up with some great drivers like Mark and Warren.

The R8 looks like a fantastic car and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel in February. Long distance racing is a great challenge, especially when you get to an amazing track like Bathurst, and it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to. It should be a great race.”

The team’s second entry will consist of an all-professional lineup, with German drivers Marc Basseng and 2009 FIA GT3 champion, Christopher Mies joining Canadian ace, Darryl O’Young. Although having never contested an event at the Mt. Panorama circuit the trio are no strangers to endurance, boasting collective starts at the Nürburgring 24H, Le Mans 24H, Sebring 12H, Spa 24H, and Sepang 12H events, in addition to GT1/GT3, ADAC, and VLN duties.

Bathurst 12H Event Director, James O’Brien made the following statement:

“Having a team of this calibre commit to the Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour with two cars is a fantastic show of support for the Event. I was fortunate enough to see the Audi team in action at Sepang (Malaysia) earlier this year and they are hugely professional as you would expect.

Their participation is sure to bring further international exposure to the Event and we look forward to welcoming the team and drivers to the Mountain in February.”

AudiSport Team Joest Technical Director, Ralf Jüttner issued the following statement in relation to the announcement:

“For the structure of our new customer sport programme, Bathurst is certainly the perfect place to begin the season. Seeing the Audi R8 LMS in operation will certainly be a great experience for the fans.”

Although in recent years the Bathurst 12 Hour had been relegated to the domain of primarily amateur and gentlemen driver entries, organisers have openly expressed an intent to lure further international interest and, with the adoption of new regulations, aim to expand the depth of the field with additional factory-supported and professional entries in future years.

Up until recently the 12 Hour event had been restricted to a production-based field of Saloon and Touring entries. Only in recent times have organisers modified event regulations, allowing the inclusion of GT3 class machinery.

The 2011 rendition of the event will run from Februrary 4-6 and, for the first time, will see the 6.2KM circuit play host to a variety of world-class GT machinery, in addition to a thriving support field of production-based saloon and touring entries.

Penfold AudiSport's R8 LMS during an AustralianGT meet at Sandown.

Penfold AudiSport's R8 LMS during an AustralianGT meet at Sandown.

LM24: Audi Unveils R18 TDi LMP1 Challenger.

Audi's R18 TDi.

Audi's new R18 TDi LMP1 Coupe. - Images Courtesy AudiUSA.

Following months of rumours and intense speculation within the sportscar racing community, AudiSport today revealed its next generation LMP1 chassis, the R18 TDi.

After achieving nine victories utilising the advantages afforded by open-top roadsters, Audi’s launch of the R18 TDi marks the manufacturer’s second foray into the use of closed-cockpit prototypes, following the use (and subsequent shelving) of the R8C Coupe in 1999.

Manufactured by Dallara, Audi’s latest LMP chassis is quite clearly a product of evolution, utilising a similarly radical (albeit simplified), raised-nose flow design pioneered by its predecessor.

With 2011 LMP1 regulations stipulating the use of both smaller chassis and engines, the R18 arrives sporting a variety of improvements from shortened wheelbase to new engine package. As had been suggested by numerous sources, Audi has confirmed the use of a 3.7L V6 TDi powerplant and, although the nature of the cooling system would suggest the use of a twin-turbo system, this has not been officially confirmed.

Although finer design details were at first overshadowed by the mere revelation of an Audi coupe, a closer observation reveals the effort invested thus far, with updates having taken place on virtually all of the chassis’ viewable surface.

Sidewall height has been reduced, with rear wheel-archs now extended forward, protruding over what was previously occupied air-intake real estate. Due to the demand for increased mechanical grip, front tyre width has increased and, as a result wheel archs are now heightened and much more pronounced.

The expected addition of the now mandatory ‘sharkfin’ concept can be seen adorning the cars’ rear bodywork. Some form of additional practicality appears to have been achieved, with the fin attached to a now roof-mounted air intake system. The purpose of this modification is not yet known.

Adding to the growing list of overhauled components, halogen headlights have been removed in favour of LED lighting. Despite this, the LED-strip lighting that once adorned the surrounding area of any Audi’s headlights (a feature which became synonymous with the marque’s racing machinery) is no longer evident.

Despite the likely presence of an R18 in Florida during March, Audi has ruled out any possibility of a Sebring debut for its latest LMP. Electing to participate regardless, the team will utilise a modified version of its current R15+ chassis for the 12 hour event.

The R18 will instead make its first public track appearance at the reinstated Le Mans test day on April 24, its maiden competitive debut following shortly after at the 6H Spa on May 8, 2011.

ILMC: Zhuhai Entry List.

 

Intercontinental Le Mans Cup Logo.

 

Provisional entry listings for the third and final round of the 2010 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup have are now available. What began as a field of 27 runners has now been reduced to a mere 24, after the withdrawal of the Atlas E-FX Saleen, and MIK Racing’s two Lola-Judd coupes. Although now sporting a slightly diminished field, the event is by no means short of quality contenders.

The Audi vs Peugeot battle continues in LMP1, although the French marque need only finish the race with both entries in order to seal the maiden ILMC LMP1 teams and manufacturers title. Both factories approach the race bearing slightly altered driver lineups as a result of differing driver commitments. Privateer flavour will be provided by fan favourites, Drayson Racing and Tokai University.

Having been the only P2 team to confirm participation in all three rounds of the ILMC, OAK Racing is only required to complete the race to confirm its P2 title. After the surprise forfeit of MIK’s two Lola-Judd entries, the French outfit will be left to run it’s own race alongside the sole Formula Le Mans entry of Hope Polevision.

The battle of the factories continues in GT2, the now dominant GT category yielding works entries from Porsche, Ferrari, BMW, and Jaguar teams. Porsche’s reputation will be defended by two-time Le Mans series champions, Felbermayr-Proton, with assistance from ProSpeed Competition. Regular LMS rivals AF-Corse and CRS will provide Ferrari presence and, flying the sole BMW flag, Schnitzer will field a single entry. After a surprise appearance at the 1000KM of Silverstone,  the Lamborghini Gallardo of Gulf Team First will also be in attendance.

Although Ferrari possess a points advantage in the race for the GT2 manufacturers title, the battle for honours is still very much alive. With a slim possibility remaining for Porsche or BMW teams to seize the first ILMC accolades for their respective marques.

Having successfully completed over nine hours under race conditions during the Petit Le Mans event, Porsche’s GT3R Hybrid will make the trip to Zhuhai for its second ILMC appearance. Capable of competing with GT2 runners, the GT3R Hybrid will compete in a class of its own once more (GT-Exp.), setting out demonstrate the advantages of Hybrid technology alongside regular GT counterparts. Porsche has committed the services of factory drivers (and recently crowned ALMS GT2 series champions) Jörg Bergmeister and Pat Long to provide the Hybrid its Chinese debut.

In addition to the inclusion of Porsche’s GT3R Hybrid, the ACO has also allowed the inclusion of GT3 homologated chassis on a strictly one-off basis, in order to increase grid numbers. The presence of both United AutoSports and KK Performance squads will mark the Audi R8 LMS’ debut appearance in an ACO sanctioned event. Team Hong Kong Racing has also committed an Aston Martin DBRS9 entry.

Entry listings can be seen in full below:

LMP1

  • 1 Team Peugeot Total – Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP – Sébastien Bourdais / Simon Pagenaud
  • 2 Team Peugeot Total – Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP – Stéphane Sarrazin / Franck Montagny
  • 7 Audi Sport Team Joest – Audi R15+ – Tom Kristensen / Allan McNish
  • 8 Audi Sport Team Joest – Audi R15+ – Rinaldo Capello / Romain Dumas
  • 11 Drayson Racing – Lola-Judd Coupe – Paul Drayson / Jonny Cocker
  • 23 Tokai University – Courage Oreca-YGK – Shigekazu Wakisaka / Shogo Mitsuyama

LMP2

  • 24 OAK Racing – Pescarolo Judd – Jacques Nicolet / Frédéric Da Rocha / Patrice Lafargue

Formula Le Mans

  • 47 Hope Polevision Racing – Oreca-FLM – Luca MORO / TBA

GT1

  • 50 Larbre Competition – Saleen S7R – Roland Berville / Julien Canal
  • 69 JLOC – Lamborghini Murcielago – Iiri HIROYUKI / TBA

GT2

  • 75 ProSpeed Competition – Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (997) – Richard Westbrook / Darryl O’Young
  • 77 Team Felbermayr-Proton – Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (997) Marc Lieb / Richard Lietz
  • 78 BMW Team Schnitzer – BMW E92 M3 – Jörg Müller / Dirk Werner
  • 81 JaguarRSR – Jaguar XKRS – Marc Goossens / Tommi Drissi / Paul Gentilozzi
  • 82 JaguarRSR – Jaguar XKRS – TBA / TBA
  • 88 Team Felbermayr-Proton – PORSCHE 911 GT3 RSR (997) – Gianluca Roda / Christian Ried / Martin Ragginger
  • 90 CRS Racing – Ferrari F430 GT – Pierre Ehret / Phil Quaife / Andrew Kirkaldy
  • 95 AF Corse – Ferrari F430 GT – Giancarlo Fisichella / Gianmaria Bruni
  • 99 Gulf Team First – Lamborghini Gallardo – Fabien Giroix / Roald Goethe / Frédéric Fatien

GT-Experimental

  • 92 Porsche AG – Porsche GT3R Hybrid – Jörg Bergmeister / Patrick Long

GTC

  • 91 Team Hong Kong Racing – Aston Martin DBRS9 – Philippe Ma / Marchy Lee
  • 96 United AutoSports – Audi R8 LMS – Danny Watts / Richard Meins
  • 97 United AutoSports – Audi R8 LMS –  Alain Li / Henri Richard
  • 98 KK Performance – Audi R8 LMS – Marchy Li / Alexander Yoong / Matthew Marsh

ILMC AsLMS Zhuhai Poster - Features R15+/908 in foreground. Background featres GT3R Hybrid and CRS F430.