The Audi R8 LMS remains "King of the Mountain" at Bathurst. On Australia’s most challenging race track the successful GT3 sports car from Audi Sport customer racing defended its title at the 12-hour race. Christer Jons (D), Christopher Mies (D) and Darryl O’Young (HK) won the endurance classic at Mount Panorama in extremely difficult conditions. Rain, fog, several lead changes and numerous safety car periods repeatedly interrupted the young trio’s race rhythm. But in the end they won with a 1m 13s advantage.
Audi remains unbeaten at Bathurst: For the second time in succession, the R8 LMS prevailed in the most important GT endurance race on the fifth continent. Conditions were far more difficult than they had been a year ago. Varying intensities of rain and dense fog at times caused a number of spins, excursions and yellow periods. The first four hours of the race alone saw the three different vehicles take turns in leading the race. From the fourth hour onward, Phoenix Racing prevailed at the front. Both R8 LMS cars of the squad from Meuspath (Germany) fought a thrilling battle for the top position. Even a spin and an excursion into the gravel trap that temporarily relegated the black number "1" R8 LMS to third place could not prevent Jons/Mies/O’Young from taking victory. On Saturday, the trio had already been the measure of all things by setting the fastest time in qualifying and capturing position one on the grid. Victory on Sunday completed a perfect weekend. The triumph at Bathurst marked as much as the 119th win in the three-year career of Audi’s successful customer race car.
Winning Audi R8
Audi has now won four major endurance races within twelve months, having recorded two successes at the Bathurst 12 Hours and one victory each at the 24-hour races on the Belgian circuits at Spa and Zolder, plus GT3 class victory at the Nürburgring 24 Hours. This year, the 24-hour classics in the Eifel and the Ardennes are again on the R8 LMS’ agenda. The coming weekend will also see the start of the first of numerous GT3 championships in the 2012 season in which Audi customer sport teams are represented. At Adelaide, Australia, Mark Eddy will be competing as the title defender on the first weekend in March. Together with his team-mate Warren Luff he is aiming to make up in the R8 LMS for what he unfortunately was unable to achieve at Bathurst - the leap onto the podium.
Quotes after the race
Romolo Liebchen (Head of Customer Sport quattro GmbH): "After this weekend we can be more than happy because we experienced a pretty rough day. We were fighting for twelve hours straight, from the beginning through to the end, and we did so in difficult overall conditions. We won but on the other hand two of the Audi cars did not finish due to accidents - including our strong Australian car. In the end, one R8 LMS made it, and our youngsters prevailed with a really cool showing. A tremendous performance! The cars were running without any problem from the first meter on. They’d been perfectly prepared at home and were perfectly fielded by Phoenix Racing. And it’s nice for us to be able to beat our core competitors and to finish ahead of Mercedes and Ferrari. That does fill us with a bit of pride. The two 24-hour races at the Nürburgring and at Spa are the next big aims for the R8 LMS. In parallel, we’ll soon be starting into about 20 championships worldwide where the R8 LMS will be fielded."
Ernst Moser (Team Director Phoenix Racing): "The balanced performance of the victorious driver trio was the secret of success. They were all very good because conditions at Bathurst were really difficult. The competition was lying in wait up to the final lap. A big ‘well done’ to the drivers and to my squad. In terms of strategy we didn’t have an advantage throughout, as some rivals repeatedly managed to make up ground in yellow periods. But we were always able to recover. We all love endurance races. After the victories at the Nürburgring and at Spa, our team’s track record now shows a success at Bathurst as well. Our second car was in contention for victory too. Craig and Warren consistently remained without mistakes. Unfortunately, Mark reached the limit in rain. Heavily touching the wall after a small mistake is a really tough experience. Otherwise, the car would also have been at the very front in the end. They were leading the race some of the time. They are three tremendous guys. I’d really love to see them travel to Germany and drive an endurance race at the Nürburgring with us some day."
Christer Jons (Audi Top Service R8 LMS #1) "I can hardly believe it! I truly enjoyed watching the scenes at the end of the race on TV once more. This is my first victory in the Audi R8 LMS, and on my Bathurst debut of all times. Darryl (O’Young) safely drove the car to the finish line in the end. That was really a rough, challenging race with a lot of unknown quantities. The weather was unpredictable and the track conditions kept changing. And it was a true battle all the way up to the end."
Christopher Mies (Audi Top Service R8 LMS #1) "This victory is fantastic because my race wasn’t exactly easy. A Ferrari overtook us early on. Christer (Jons) took over the car later and then I was driving in rain again. We were running far in front when my rear wheels locked when I was braking into the last turn. So I slipped into the gravel trap. We truly experienced some highs and lows. In the end, we won with a lead of a little over a minute. In rain we were five seconds faster some of the time than our sister car and the Mercedes that ultimately finished as the runner-up. We also made the quickest pit stops. At the end, I had tears in my eyes because this victory was the result of an ultra-tough battle in incredibly bad weather against strong rivals."
Darryl O’Young (Audi Top Service R8 LMS #1) "The team was tremendous. The cooperation between quattro GmbH and Phoenix Racing was fantastic. As well as for Phoenix, Australia was new territory for Christer Jons, who did a first-class job of driving. For me, it’s been one of my toughest races due to the constantly changing conditions. There was a lot of hydroplaning and at times we had to drive on slicks in the rain. A fantastic showing by all. Many thanks from me to the whole squad."
Race results Top 10
1 Jons/Mies/O’Young (Audi R8 LMS), 270 laps in 12h 03m 31.375s 2 Slade/Bleekemolen/Hackett/Curtis (Mercedes) + 1m 13.284s 3 Sun/Baird/Griffin (Ferrari) - 2 laps 4 Tinkler/Johnson/Richards (Porsche) - 16 laps 5 O’Donnell/Niall/McLennon (Porsche) - 26 laps 6 Alford/Leemhuis/Beechey (Porsche) - 33 laps 7 Pye/Barbour/Pither (Holden) - 39 laps 8 Thomlinson/Dippie/Maddren (Porsche) - 42 laps 9 Thomson/Klien/Harley (Lotus) - 43 laps 10 Newman/Lillie/Atkinson (Holden) - 48 laps
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