While the Audi R18 was foiled at the Petit Le Mans race by Peugeot for the third year in a row, the German automaker did have reason to celebrate a major road race victory on the east side of the Atlantic Ocean. In the second to last event in the popular DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) series, a 2.517-mile road course in Valencia, Spain hosted what was the race weekend Audi Sport Team Phoenix driver Martin Tomczyk secured the 2011 DTM Championship. In a dominant race where Audi A4 sedans took the top six spots, Audi has one race remaining in an effort to capture a team championship in DTM. The ABT Sportsline organization is 5 points ahead of a Mercedes-Benz heading into a late October race at the Hockenheim track.
Since 2009, the technical regulations for the DTM Series have been frozen in the interests for controlling costs for competitors. For the upcoming 2012 series, the series is allowing the entrance of new cars, opening the door for German carmaker BMW to join Mercedes-Benz and Audi. For the existing program fielded by Audi, the auto company hopes the blow the doors open on the competition with two fewer doors. Campaigning a car based on the A4 sedan since 2004, Audi is set to unleash a new DTM race vehicle based on the A5 two-door.
Presented as the 2012 race machine, the Audi A5 DTM was revealed ahead of the past Frankfurt Motor Show. More than a year and a half in development as the R17 project, the two-door Audi A5 DTM car measures 5.01 meters (197.24 inches) in total length and is 1.95 meters (76.77 inches) in width. Compared to the 2012 model year Audi A5, the A5 DTM car is more than 15 inches longer and 3.77 inches wider for race track competition. In compliance with rules of the DTM sanctioning body, the Audi A5 racer rides within a mandated 2,750 millimeter (108.27 inch) wheelbase.
A departure from the four-door A4, the Audi A5 DTM for 2012 exhibits the refined exterior of the street vehicles. The new body structure created through the combination of carbon fiber and steel also sees the additional use of aluminum for suspension parts. Adhering to new aerodynamic regulations as well as to take advantage to improved airflow sciences, the Audi A5 DTM where a larger rear wing. Overall, Audi says the design is also more resistant to damage due to race contact (fender-to-fender contact is a main ingredient in DTM racing).
Along with the constraints for wheelbase length, other technical requirements of the motorsport series meant Audi needed to build the 2012 A5 DTM race around over 50 components that are shared among the other automakers. Meant for safety and a method for controlling costs, the new Audi is able to boast a total cost reduction of more than 40 percent over the previous A4 race car. While the DTM series preserves their exclusive tire supplier deal with Hankook and electronic control units from Bosch, this racing organization is careful to ward off the runaway costs that killed the previous edition of the European road racing category.
One of the ways Audi was able to control the price on the new A5 DTM is to reuse the tried and proven four-valve V-8 engine. Producing around 460 horsepower, the Audi A5 DTM will feature a new six-speed gearbox. For 2012, the Audi A5 DTM car will be more driver-friendly with a steering wheel paddle-shifter.
As Audi feverishly strides to compete with BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the sales marketplace, the fight in the 2012 DTM Series should be just as aggressive.
Information source: Audi AG, Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters
Photo source: Audi AG
Following their hard-fought race in France against the Peugeot factory squad, the Audi R18 grabbed the overall victory in the Le Mans 24 Hour endurance event for the 10th time in 12 races. While Audi Sport has routinely turned the 24 Hour of Le Mans into a glimmering showcase of their TDI technology, the German motorsport arm claimed another all-day affair just one country east of France. On the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, the Blancpain Endurance Series competitors met the full force of the Audi R8 sports car.
Unlike the most renowned 24-hour of Le Mans where prototype sports cars dominate the headlines, the 24 hours of Spa is based solely on the competition of production-based vehicles. Though production-derived, there is nothing garden variety about the competing products in the Blancpain Endurance Series. A fleet of fast and exotic cars such as the Ferrari 458 Italia, Mercedes-Benz SLS, Chevrolet Corvette Z06 as well as Aston Martin DBRS9 committed to a gruelling 24-hour race on the 7.004-kilometer (4.352 mile) Spa-Francorchamps circuit. For Audi, specially fitted R8 LMS race cars were fielded under Audi Sport WRT and Team Phoenix. Featuring a modified version of the brand’s 5.2 liter V-10 engine, the Audi R8 LMS race car targeted to two major European sports car endurance races at Germany’s Nurburgring and the at the Spa-Francorchamps complex on the 2011 calendar.
Starting in 7th place after the Belgium sports car race’s pole was snatched by a German rival BMW Z4 GT3, the #33 Audi Sport R8 LMS launched into attack mode. By the fourth hour in the 24 Hours of Spa, the #33 Audi Sport WRT R8 LMS was holding tight in 2nd place behind a Team Phoenix R8 LMS sister car. Taking the lead early into hour five, the #33 car would lead often through the night as well as through light rain at the Belgium track in the collective hands of Mattias Ekström, Timo Scheider and Greg Franchi. Despite the team making two scheduled brake pad changes over the 24 hours of racing, the #33 Audi R8 LMS won by a 2-lap gap over the #76 BMW Z4. The win in the GT3 Pro category rewards the Audi R8 LMS with the second GT3 class victory following a similar triumph at the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring.
Finishing in 4th place was the Audi Sport WRT group’s second car. The #32 Audi R8 LMS piloted by the driving team of Filipe Albuquerqe, Bert Longin and Stephane Ortelli fought from a 41st place starting position finishing just a lap behind the #35 Mercedes-Benz SLS GT3 car. The Team Phoenix two-car team found turmoil in their 2011 24 Hours of Spa race. Competing in the Audi R8 LMS race cars, the Team Phoenix #98 driver grouping finishing 14th while their teammate’s #98 placed45th after having to retire in the early morning hours.
Apart from the GT3 Pro entrants, a three-car Audi R8 LMS effort was fielded the 24 Hours of Spa’s Amateur ranks. American-based United Autosports Audi R8 LMS assembled some established greats of racing such as Mark Brundell, Indy 500 winners Arie Luyendyk and Eddie Cheever as well as Formula 1 winner Johnny Herbert amongst their three race vehicles. In the 2011 race, the United Autosports’ top finishing result was 6th in the GT3 Pro-Am category translating to 13th overall. “I’d like to thank everybody who worked so hard and with so much commitment to make this victory possible. After Le Mans, Audi now stands in the winners list of another great 24-hour race. We were able to show that the R8 is a fantastic sportscar. Our increasing number of customer teams also confirms this.” were the words from Werner Frowein, Managing Director of quattro GmbH.
In front of a confirmed 60,000 spectators, the Audi R8 LMS led 22 hours of the 24-hour race’s run. The Audi R8 LMS race car’s win came after over 3,817 kilometers (about 2,372 miles) around the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
Information source: Audi AG, SRO Ltd.
Photo source: Audi AG