Sunday 31 July 2011

Dominant First Win For Audi at Total 24 Hours of Spa

Dominant First Win For Audi at Total 24 Hours of Spa

For thirteen hours the nr33 Audi Sport Team WRT (Belgian Audi Club) Audi R8 LMS of Timo Scheider, Greg Franchi and Matthias Ekstrom led the largest field of cars to take part in the Total 24 Hours of Spa for many years and after completing 545 laps Scheider took the chequered flag to record his second win, and Audi’s first, in the world’s second oldest 24 hour race. The Audi finished two laps ahead of the nr76 Need for Speed Team Schubert BMW Z4 of Dirk Werner, Edward Sandstroem and Claudia Huertgen, after Huertgen started from 49th on the 62 car grid.

The third placed car was 10 laps behind the leading Audi at the end of the 24 Hours, with the nr35 Black Falcon Mercedes SLS AMG making it to the podium despite some mechanical and physical woes during the race. However Kenneth Heyer, Stephane Lemeret and Thomas Jager battled on and were rewarded with a podium finish for their and the team's efforts.

The Pro-Am Cup was a closer fought affair with the nr2 Vita4One Ferrari looking good for victory until it was excluded for not coming in for to serve a pitlane violation penalty. This left the nr20 SOFREV ASP Ferrari of Ludovic Badey, Franck Morel, Guillaume Moreau and Jean-Luc Beaubelique and the nr90 Team Preci Spark Mercedes SLS AMG fighting it out for the victory, with the Ferrari winning through. The nr50 AF Corse Ferrari of Matt Griffin, Jack Gerber, Marco Cioci and Niki Cadei was third.

Victory in the Gentlemen Trophy was secured by the nr 19 Level Racing Porsche 997 of Christoff Corten, Brody, Matijs Harkems and Kurt Dujardin after the leading Muhlner Motorsport Porsche of Martin Rich, Tim Bergmeister, Sebastien Asch and Jochen Krumbach had to pit for a new gearbox, dropping it back to second in class.

The Cup Class was won by the nr56 RMS Porsche 997 of Marc Faggionato, Thierry Stepnec, Thierry Prignaud and Franck Racinet, finishing 28 laps ahead of their nearest rival.

The GT4 Class win went to the nr63 RJN Motorsport Nissan 370Z of Alex Buncombe, Chris Ward and Jordan Tresson after the class leading Lotus Evora of Greg Mansell, Eduardo Piscopo, Leo Mansell and Gianni Giudici went out in spectacular fashion when the engine let go. Despite electrical problems the Nissan reached the chequered flag , finishing 11 laps ahead of the nr100 DVB Racing BMW of Christophe Legrand, Raffaele Sangiuolo, Giuseppe de Pasquale and Wolfgang Haugg

CLICK HERE for the provisional result of the Total 24 Hours of Spa and Round 3 of the Blancpain Endurance Series and also the results at 6, 12 and 18 hours.

CLICK HERE for the full hourly timesheets (PDF Format - under R3: Spa)

CLCK HERE for the provisional Championship Positions after Round 3 (PDF Format)

The Hour by Hour updates in the news section of the official website will provide all the background information to the race. The Spa 24 Blog HERE also gives information, driver quotes and images from the entire 24 Hours of Spa from start to finish.

The next round of the Blancpain Endurance Series is at Magny Cour on Saturday 20th August for a 3-hour evening race.

Timo Scheider, Audi Sport Team WRT (Belgian Audi Club) Audi R8 LMS nr33 (1st)

“I have to thank all the guys who supported us this weekend, especially the WRT team. We came here with some expectations but we didn’t know what we could achieve. These guys did an awesome job. Starting from the kitchen, to the tyre guys to the mechanics and the engineers. We made no mistakes and the Audi R8 LMS lasted till the end which is the key to why we are sitting here today. We just changed once or twice the brakes but everything else ran smoothly. Mattias (Ekstrom) had one of the worst stints you could choose. He was out there this morning on slicks in the hard rain and he did a great job. We had some pressure and we had to survive and we did that. To win a race like this – the Spa 24 Hours of Spa – is always something special.”

Claudia Huertgen , Need For Speed Team Schubert BMW Z4 nr76 (2nd)

“It was a hard race for us because we started from 48th position. It was also the first time for us to drive here in dry conditions. We found a good set-up for the race which gave us confidence in the car. To finish second is brilliant for the team because at the last 24-hour race at Nurburgring we lost two cars which was tough. It was the first time here for the team and the car. I hope we will come back next year and be stronger and fight for the victory.”

Thomas Jager, Black Falcon Mercedes SLS AMG nr35 (3rd)

“We had lots of difficulties starting with the test day when we lost the car so our preparation was not good at all. We didn’t really know which direction to go with the set-up. We took the car from the factory last week did a roll out and came here. We had a great car and good reliability which is very important of course in a 24-hour race. We are really happy with the result. To compete against the factory teams as a private racing team is difficult, but I think the concept works. We would like to think that we can be more competitive next year. We’ll be back and hopefully challenge for the win.”

Guillaume Moreau, SOFREV ASP Ferrari 458 nr20 (1st Pro Am Cup)

" I was a little surprised at the start, there was a lot of agressive driving so I just aimed to stay on the track between the two white lines. I am very happy , a very good victory for my teammates and it is something very special to win the 24 Hours of Spa."

Thierry Stepec, RMS Porsche nr56 – CUP

“The race was really great. We had an excellent start and were leading the Cup race from about 10 o clock last night. We were able to produce a big gap from there on in to the second placed car and maintain the pace. Our lap times were pretty consistent and the car felt good for the majority of the race. We had a slight problem 20 minutes before the end but we had an advantage over the others so we were able to win the Cup class. Marco (Fagglonato) and Thierry (Prignaud) did a wonderful job in the car this weekend so we will enjoy this together.”

Christopher Ward, RJN Motorsport Nissan nr63 – GT4

“Our race went really well right from the word go so it was a relief to get the car home home after such a long event, especially at such a challenging circuit like Spa. We had problems with the car yesterday but nothing that we couldn’t overcome. From that point on the car ran reliably and we made sure we didn’t make any silly mistakes throughout the night. The whole team did a fantastic job – especially Alex (Buncombe) and Jordan (Tresson) who drove some fantastic stints to ensure we sustained the distance to the others. We look forward to a good celebration tonight.”

Alex Buncombe, RJN Motorsport Nissan nr63 – GT4

“The race was unbelievable and left me pretty speechless. We have done a lot with RJN but never really had any success with the 24 hour races so to win here at Spa is incredible and unforgettable. It has been a fantastic day and an awesome week for us.

“We had a lot of problems early on with a few small issues with the car and this let the Lotus pass. We have consistently been the fastest car all weekend and had a few little niggles at the start of the race, which unfortunately put us down to second in the class. Lotus Sport Italia didn’t finish the race in front us to so we took it all from there. We had to be careful and just make sure we got to the end, which is what we did.”

Brody, Level Racing Porsche nr19 – Gentleman Trophy

“The race was a dream for me. It was very hard for everybody but we finished with 30 seconds between us and the Muehlner Motorsport Porsche so I think it is a great result for us. We were seventeenth overall in the first Porsche so it was a very important win for us and the best podium of my life."

“I am very emotional at the moment and I even cried. I just wanted to get onto the podium with the team and also celebrate with Christoff (Corten), Mathijs (Harkema) and Kurt (Dujardin).”

Blancpain, a tradition of innovation for over 275 years

In 1735, Jehan-Jacques Blancpain began his watchmaking activity and installed his first workshop on the upper floor of his family home in Villeret, a village in the Swiss Jura mountains. By inscribing his name in the official communal property register, this pioneer created an establishment that is now the world’s oldest watch brand.

Throughout its history, Blancpain has succeeded in maintaining solid continuity in its capacity for innovation and its respect for traditional horological values. Whether by perfecting complications, designs and production methods, or by exploring new horizons, the Manufacture has been devoted for more than 275 years to taking the art of watchmaking to places it has never yet ventured. From the first models created in the 18th century to the prestigious timepieces currently emerging from its workshops, Blancpain has forged an authentic tradition of innovation. The key to its success lies in the mastery of all fields involved in making an exceptional mechanical timepiece – from the creation of the movement and its components through to the functional design of the watch, along with the choice of materials and the extremely refined and entirely hand-crafted finishing.

Without ever straying from its precious heritage, the brand steadfastly pursues its quest for performance, precision and elegance by offering a range of exceptional timepieces equipped with the most sophisticated horological complications. The nature of its collections – including the pure lines of the Villeret, the efficient complexity of Le Brassus, and the avant-garde design of L-evolution – is firmly rooted in watchmaking traditions while constantly pushing them towards new limits. In the same way, the ladies’ collection celebrates beauty and refinement, while the Sport collection is composed of instrument watches that are ready to face any situation on land, under water or in the air.

While remaining unswervingly loyal to its values, Blancpain regularly associates with partners that share its passion for excellence. Whether in the field of motorsports, sailing, scuba diving, or that of gastronomy and the art of living, the Manufacture is proud of its partnerships that represent far more than mere co-branding. On the contrary, Blancpain commits itself fully to such forms of cooperation by joining forces with its partners in a determination to excel and to foster both creativity and authenticity.

Blandpain Endurance Series.

Photo: © ©VIMAGES/Fabre

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