Audi on the trail of “Crocodile Dindo”
The 2011 motorsport season for Audi starts earlier than it has for many years: on February 6, Audi race experience Team Joest competes with two Audi R8 LMS in the 12-hour race at Bathurst (Australia). For Audi it is the first race "down under" since the start of the new millennium.
|Two Audi R8 LMS cars for Bathurst race|
Reinhold Joest’s team also supported the last race in Australia on December 31, 2000. At that time Dindo Capello and Allan McNish won the "Race of a Thousand Years" in Adelaide at the wheel of an Audi R8 in crocodile look. The spectacular prototype still holds cult status among fans today and brought Dindo Capello the nickname "Crocodile Dindo."
Audi race experience Team Joest now aims to conquer Australia with the Audi R8 LMS - with the GT3 sports car specifically developed by Audi for customer sport use and which bears the sporting genes of the victorious Le Mans Prototypes.
Audi’s customer sport program which started in 2009 with the R8 LMS was newly structured to coincide punctually with the 2011 season. Further development of the Audi R8 LMS, marketing and technical support for customers and importer teams worldwide was transferred to Quattro GmbH. The race at Bathurst is the first under the new management.
The goal is clearly defined: By participating in the most important endurance races, like Bathurst, the Quattro GmbH aims to win further customers for the Audi R8 LMS, which can boast an impressive run of results in its first two years of competition: In 197 races, the Audi R8 LMS can claim 64 wins, a total of 163 podium finishes and seven championship titles to date.
Up to now the focus of customer sport activities was Europe and the Audi R8 LMS - in 2011 it will be further expanded: The next market to enter Audi’s sights is Asia. Furthermore, customer sport should have a modular structure and expanded to encompass other models such as the Audi TT RS.
First successes "down under"
Audi was also victorious in touring car racing in Australia in the 1990s. The Audi R8 LMS has also claimed its first successes "down under": Last year Mark Eddy entered a privately run R8 LMS in the Australian GT Championship. The entrepreneur from Melbourne took four podium finishes. It is almost self-explanatory that the 2008 Australian GT Champion belongs to the Audi driving squad for Bathurst. Eddy is one of three drivers in the Audi Australia R8 LMS with start number "7" lining up in Audi Australia Dealer Network colors with three local aces at the wheel. Alongside Mark Eddy are Warren Luff, a regular in the national V8 Supercar Championship since 2002, and Craig Lowndes long since a touring car legend in Australia with three titles and 71 race wins to his name.
Germans Marc Basseng and Christopher Mies share the number "8" Audi Top Service R8 LMS with the Hong Kong-Chinese Darryl O’Young. Basseng has claimed 21 overall victories in VLN long-distance races around the Nordschleife of the Nürburgring; drove the Audi R8 LMS six times there last year and has already contested the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring twice with the model. Christopher Mies celebrated the greatest victories of his career in the sports car adorned with the Four Rings: He won the 2009 FIA GT3 European Championship in the R8 LMS and last year finished the ADAC GT Masters season as runner-up. All three drivers are new to Bathurst.
The circuit on Mount Panorama is also new territory for Audi race experience Team Joest. Last year, the team, which is an offshoot of the successful Audi Le Mans factory team, was mainly active on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife and provided Audi customers with the opportunity to contest races themselves in the Audi R8 LMS. In August 2010 the team contested a long-distance race in Asia for the first time with the GT3 sports car. The team finished the 12 hours of Malaysia in second position and, in doing so, paved the way for further events.
Bathurst - endurance race with a young tradition
Now Bathurst, Australia’s most famous race track. The start flag for a 12-hour race fell for the first time here exactly two decades ago. Following two short breaks the traditional race has been staged regularly since 2007. Over the last few years production-based touring cars have fought for overall victory. Fascinating GT3 sports cars such as the Audi R8 LMS enrich this year’s event on the famous Mount Panorama.
The 6.213 kilometer long temporary race track, which includes closed-off public roads, is an unforgiving roller coaster ride. Concrete walls line the majority of the 23 corners and straights. If the corner layout is not challenge enough, the difference in altitude of more than 170 meters around the 6,213 meter long circuit completes the tremendous challenge for man and machine. Bathurst is regarded as spiritual home of Australian motorsport and is the scene every year for the Bathurst 1000 race. Australian racing legend Craig Lowndes has already won this world-famous motorsport event five times - now he competes in an Audi R8 LMS.
Regulations with room for adjustment
The organizer has developed sophisticated regulations to guarantee exciting races. From the technical aspect the race car’s FIA homologation is essentially valid. On top of this comes the "balance of performance" which attempts to compensate for car performance by air intake restrictor, weight and engine revs. Furthermore some special rules are also valid. The organizers have declared a lap time of 2 minutes 8 seconds as "sound barrier." Fuel tank volume and pit stops are also subject to special rules in Australia. In contrast to the standard factory layout of the customer sport race car, the on-board fuel capacity was reduced by 20 liters to 100. The re-fuelling system also had to be modified for Australia; with the pit lane being on the in-field and the circuit running anti-clockwise the R8 LMS must be re-fuelled from the left hand side and not from the right as is usually the case. For a race duration of twelve hours at least twelve pit stops of a minimum of 90 seconds are stipulated.
In Australia the Joest team, based in Wald-Michelbach in the Odenwald region, will have to adjust to the tires provided by the event’s official supplier Michelin. "With versions eight and nine we have a medium and hard compound available. They should be ideal for the warm temperatures encountered during the late Australian summer," says Ralf Jüttner, Technical Director of Audi race experience Team Joest.
Topical points of interest at the weekend
- Can Audi start the 2011 motorsport season with a win?
- Does the balance of performance ensure parity among the competition?
- Can the three local drivers exploit their circuit knowledge?
Comments from the responsible personalities
Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi race experience Team Joest): "The last time Team Joest raced in Australia was in the year 2000, also with a car called Audi R8 - however, with the sports prototype in Adelaide where we won. Now we compete at Bathurst on an absolutely legendary track with the Audi R8 LMS GT3 sports car. I think you can certainly use the term ‘adventure’ in a positive sense for this event: As was the case at the 12-hour race in Malaysia in August 2010, we compete with the R8 LMS in a country outside of Europe on a track unknown to us and in an event where we must first familiarize ourselves with the rules. We come up against opponents we have previously never met. We can also not judge the balance of performance - this is classification of all cars. Presumably the 12-hour race will be a few hours old before we can really completely assess the sporting and tactical aspects. All these factors make this long-distance race an extremely appealing event which we are already looking forward to. Our target is to fight for victory."
Facts and comments from the Audi drivers
Marc Basseng (32/D), Audi R8 LMS #8 (Audi race experience Team Joest)
- Contested the 24 Hours Nürburgring in 2009 and 2010 with the Audi R8 LMS
- Is an endurance expert with 21 wins in VLN Nürburgring races
- Contested the 2010 FIA GT1 World Championship
"To race in Australia on Mount Panorama is the biggest challenge I’ve faced for years. I’m really looking forward to meeting our Australian team mates. They are all regarded as experts on the track at Bathurst. I’m convinced that it’ll be fantastic to work together with them. They’ve known the circuit for ages, while we are very familiar with the Audi R8 LMS. We can all learn a lot from each other, and we all work together for the success of the team. A fantastic group."
Mark Eddy (50/AUS), Audi R8 LMS #7 (Audi race experience Team Joest)
- Was Australian GT champion in 2008
- Competes since 2010 as first and up to now only driver of an Audi R8 LMS in the Australian GT Championship
"After having raced the R8 LMS for a season in the Australian GT Championship the 12-hour race at Bathurst is a great season opener for 2011. A fantastic car on a first class race track and, on top of this, I have two well-known countrymen alongside in the cockpit. I’m really looking forward to the event. To start it’s all about getting through the 12 hours without making a mistake. Hopefully we’ll be on the podium afterwards."
Craig Lowndes (36/AUS), Audi R8 LMS #7 (Audi race experience Team Joest)
- Has won the Australian V8 Supercar series three times
- Is five-time winner of the famous Bathurst 1000 race
"It’ll be a first rate event and I’m really looking forward to it finally getting started. I know how I have to drive at Bathurst. I still have hardly any experience with GT cars, but it’ll certainly be a lot of fun. By the way, I’ve never driven a left-hand drive car like the Audi R8 LMS. The team is completely professional and I compete with two very experienced team mates. We should have a good chance of a top result. A twelve hour race on this track is all about good brakes and low fuel consumption. I think that these two factors will be the key to victory."
Warren Luff (34/AUS), Audi R8 LMS #7 (Audi race experience Team Joest)
- Competed five times in the 12 Hours Bathurst between 1995 and 2010
- Celebrates his debut in the Audi R8 LMS
"My expectations for the 12 Hours Bathurst 2011 in a few words: We want to win. Audi has an incredible racing pedigree in long-distance competitions, and the same goes for Team Joest. We now compete in the 12-hour race together with the experience of these two companies. I’m very happy to be a part of this team."
Christopher Mies (21/D), Audi R8 LMS #8 (Audi race experience Team Joest)
- Is one of the most experienced drivers of an Audi R8 LMS
- Won the 2009 FIA GT3 European Championship in an Audi R8 LMS
- Was runner-up in the ADAC GT Masters with the R8 LMS
"My third season with the Audi R8 LMS starts in Australia. I’m convinced that we can look forward to a challenging and exciting race. A lot is expected of us, and we’ll all do everything in our powers to fulfill these expectations. The circuit looks incredible, just spectacular! I hope to be able to use my experience of the Nürburgring Nordschleife to good effect there, as this track is also very unusual. I’m sure that we can be right at the front. Together with Audi race experience Team Joest and my team mates Darryl O’Young and Marc Basseng we certainly shouldn’t be underestimated. I’m looking forward to the new challenge. I’m intrigued to see the country and the circuit."
Darryl O’Young (30/GB), Audi R8 LMS #8 (Audi race experience Team Joest)
- Races for the first time in Australia
- Finished second in Sepang with Audi race experience Team Joest in 2010
"I’ve never raced in Australia before. I’m really looking forward to driving on Mount Panorama. It is one of the world’s most famous tracks and is considered very challenging. It’ll definitely be a fabulous experience. I have enormous trust in our driver squad and quite obviously also in Audi race experience Team Joest. Last August in Malaysia we narrowly missed winning the 12-hour race with the Audi R8 LMS. Now I hope that we’ll cross the finish line at Bathurst in first position after 12 hours."
The Audi drivers at Bathurst
Marc Basseng (D): * 12/12/1978 in Engelskirchen (D); domicile: Neusalza (D); single; height: 1.83 m; weight: 76 kg; Audi driver since 2009; 12 Hours Bathurst: races: 0; wins: 0; pole positions: 0; fastest laps: 0.
Mark Eddy (AUS): * 12/05/1960 in Melbourne (AUS); domicile: Canterbury (AUS); married to Margaret, one son (Daniel) and one daughter (Tayla Portia); height: 1.80 m; weight: 86 kg; Audi driver since 2010; 12 Hours Bathurst: races: 2; wins: 0; pole positions: 0; fastest laps: 0.
Craig Lowndes (AUS): * 21/06/1974 in Melbourne (AUS); domicile: Mt Kilcoy (AUS); married to Natalie, one son (Levi), one daughter (Chilli); height: 1.82 m; weight: 81 kg; Audi driver 2011; 12 Hours Bathurst: races: 1; wins: 0; pole positions: 0; fastest laps: 0.
Warren Luff (AUS): * 21.04.1976 in Sutherland (AUS); domicile: Hollywell (AUS); single; height: 1.83 m; weight: 75 kg; Audi driver since 2011; 12 Hours Bathurst: races: 5; wins: 0; pole positions: 0; fastest laps: 0.
Christopher Mies (D): * 24/05/1989 in Velbert (D); domicile: Heiligenhaus (D); single; height: 1.72 m; weight: 66 kg; Audi driver since 2009; 12 Hours Bathurst: races: 0; wins: 0; pole positions: 0; fastest laps: 0.
Darryl O’Young (CN): * 26/03/1980 in Vancouver (CDN); domicile: Hong Kong (CN); single; height: 1.73 m; weight: 75 kg; Audi driver since 2010; 12 Hours Bathurst: races: 0; wins: 0; pole positions: 0; fastest laps: 0.
Circuit length: 6.213 km
Race distance: 12 hours
Pole position 2010: Steve Owen (Mitsubishi Evo X RS), 2m 26.8553s = 152.305 km/h (13/02/2010)
Fastest lap 2010: Rod Salmon/Damien White/Inky Tulloch (Mitsubishi Evo X RS), 2m 30.9778s = 148.146 km/h (14/02/2010)
Craig Lowndes about Bathurst: "Even though the track is used as public road outside of race weekends, it still feels more like a permanent track. This is down to the fact that it was originally conceived as race circuit and not as public road. Every corner apart from the last two is a real challenge to driver. However, the most difficult section is between the mountain and the Skyline and Forest’s Elbow sections. You can’t see into the corners here. The best place for overtaking is at the end of Conrod Straight as you enter The Chase. At every other point overtaking is difficult because the speed is so high everywhere and the walls on the mountain are very close to the tarmac. The surface which has been renewed recently is relatively easy on the tires. The most difficult thing about Bathurst is memorizing the layout. Luckily I know the circuit like the back of my hand."
Schedule (local time; CET +10 hours
Friday, February 4
0845 - 0935 Free practice 1
1320 - 1410 Free practice 2
Saturday, February 5
0735 - 0835 Qualifying 1
1330 - 1430 Qualifying 2
Sunday, February 6
0615 - 1815 Race (12 hours)