- Marco Bonanomi new champion in Italian GT Championship
- Three Audi R8 LMS entering ILMC race at Zhuhai
- Martin Tomczyk’s PR marathon continues
Audi wins the Italian GT Championship: In the season finale at Monza, Italian driver Marco Bonanomi drove an Audi R8 LMS to victory for the team Audi Sport Italia.
Together with DTM driver Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi achieved two second places in Monza. This was Audi factory driver Bonanomi’s first title win in his home country. Ahead of the race, the only other driver who stood a chance of clinching the title was Bonanomi’s team colleague Andrea Sonvico. In the final race, Sonvico came fourth and third together with Dindo Capello and finished the season as the runner-up to Bonanomi, just ten points behind him.
Three Audi R8 LMS in China: The final race of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) at Zhuhai in November will not just be contested by two Audi R18 TDI - three Audi R8 LMS will likewise be taking part in the 6 Hours of Zhuhai from November 11 to 13, competing in the GTC class. Audi Sport customer racing China is pinning its hopes on Edoardo Mortara (I)/Darryl O’Young (HK)/Alexandre Imperatori (CH), while Audi race experience China is entering Jeffrey Lee (CN)/Florian Gruber (D). The customer sport race car belonging to Hitotsuyama Racing will be shared by Akihiro Tsuzuki (J)/Michael Kim (USA)/Carlo van Dam (NL).
Racing round the Nordschleife: Together with Marco Werner and Peter Wyss, Darryl O’Young who hails from Hong Kong took the opportunity to get behind the wheel of an Audi R8 LMS belonging to Audi race experience during the ninth round of the VLN Endurance Championship on the Nürburgring. The trio finished the race in 20th place. O’Young, who won the 12 Hours of Bathurst, traveled to Germany on Wednesday to visit quattro GmbH, where he saw the Audi R8 being mass-produced and the Audi R8 LMS race cars being assembled.
Audi Q3 attracts racing drivers: A third of Audi’s DTM team of drivers is playing a part in the launch of the new Audi Q3 in Germany. Rahel Frey attended the presentation of the vehicle in Munich last week, and Timo Scheider and Mike Rockenfeller will be in Stuttgart on Monday (October 17). DTM champion Martin Tomczyk was lucky enough to have test-driven the new Audi Q3 back in the summer.
Right across China: The Audi Q3 Trans China Tour 2011 got underway in Beijing last weekend. Some 160 entrants will take to the wheel of the new Audi Q3 to thoroughly explore what has become Audi’s most important sales market. The Le Mans winners Dindo Capello, André Lotterer and Emanuele Pirro will participate along the way. The race comprises 16 stages covering a distance of approximately 5,700 kilometers.
PR marathon continues: Martin Tomczyk is still dashing about from one place to another. The Audi factory driver and new DTM champion was a surprise guest at the Audi works meetings in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm on Wednesday and Thursday, where he was given a tumultuous reception by the employees. On Friday, Tomczyk was a guest on the ARD’s breakfast TV show, where he met the cult TV puppets Ernie and Bert of Sesame Street. This coming Thursday, Tomczyk will be at the "Audi Sportnacht" in Stuttgart’s Schlossgarten park, where he will talk to the approximately 400 invited guests about becoming the new DTM champion. The audience will also be addressed by the soccer World Cup champion Guido Buchwald and VfB Stuttgart’s goalkeeper Sven Ulreich.
Two-time champion attends management conference: Timo Scheider was a guest at the AUDI AG management conference on Friday. The two-time DTM champion represented motorsport in a panel discussion, alongside Uli Hoeneß, President of FC Bayern Munich, who represented football management.
Top-class instructors: 24 readers of the German car magazine auto motor und sport can look forward to something rather special - from Monday to Wednesday, they will take part in a training course on the Lausitzring with Audi. Their top-class instructors will be the two Audi factory drivers Mattias Ekström and Marcel Fässler, as well as Marco Werner, Sepp Haider and Florian Gruber of Audi race experience. Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich will put in an appearance on the Tuesday for an evening meal.
24 hours of racing for two Le Mans winners: Former Audi factory driver Frank Biela and five-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will compete in the 20th 24 Hour RCCO Slot Car Race on the "Südschleife" at the Nürburgring. A second Le Mans winner, Ralf Jüttner, is likewise scheduled to be there from November 18 to 20. Jüttner most recently enjoyed a Le Mans win with Audi as the Technical Director of Audi Sport Team Joest in June 2011.
Major changes: Diesel vehicles such as the Audi R18 TDI which won in Le Mans will be subject to a further set of restrictions starting in 2012. As the coordinators of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the ACO announced that there would be reductions in the diameter of the air restrictors, the boost pressure, and the tank capacity of diesel vehicles. Even smaller tank volumes apply to hybrid drives, together with the rule that recuperated energy may only be used for a boost to the front wheels at speeds above 120 km/h. The ACO has also announced that there will be modifications to the aerodynamics of the LMP1 vehicles.
Victory in the final race: Enzo Ide and guest driver Christopher Haase triumphed in the final race of the FIA GT3 European Championship season in Zandvoort on Sunday, driving an Audi R8 LMS belonging to WRT. Enzo Ide scored three wins in the 2011 GT3 championship and finished the season in third place overall.
Success in Jerez: On the fifth weekend of racing in the Spanish GT Championship, César Campaniço and Joao Pedro Figueiredo scored a victory in the GTS category in the second race. Driving an Audi R8 LMS belonging to NovaDriver Total, the pair came third in the first race. Campaniço and Figueiredo have therefore already successfully defended their championship title before the final race in Montmeló, Spain, on October 29 and 30.
On the winners’ rostrum in Hockenheim: In both races at the finale of the DVM Touring Car Championship (DMV TCC), Markus Winkelhock came second in an Audi R8 LMS for Novidem Swissracing, ahead of his team colleague Pierre von Mentlen.
A brief interview with ... Dr. Martin Mühlmeier
The ACO thoroughly analyzed the performance of the LMP1 models with gasoline and diesel engines once again and has announced some drastic cuts. Individual air restrictors in diesel engines will be reduced from 47.4 mm to 45.8 mm (-3.37%). The boost pressure is to be reduced from 3,000 to 2,800 millibars (-6.6%). An engine’s performance is therefore expected to fall by approximately 7%. The volume of the tank is being reduced by 5 liters to 60 liters (-7.69%). As the Technical Director of Audi Sport, what do you think of these changes?
"As far as we are concerned, these changes don’t make sense. Gasoline and diesel engines were already rated fairly, as demonstrated by various measurements. It is all too easy for the general public to overlook the fact that the teams that currently use vehicles run on gasoline are nowhere near reaching the full potential of gasoline engines and vehicles as laid down in the regulations. Until now, the ACO had a good idea of what this potential was. But now a different point of view has taken precedence."
Can you already say what effect these changes will have on the number of pit stops during the 24 Hours of Le Mans?
"They will have some very unfortunate effects. The changes made to the fuel tank volumes are no longer based on sound science. Since 2007, LMP1 vehicles with gasoline engines have been able to carry 90 liters of fuel and diesel vehicles have carried 81 liters. This was fair as it equated to the different fuel values of the two fuel types. But this year, the diesel tanks were reduced to 65 liters and this will be reduced further still to 60 liters in 2012. What’s more, hybrid vehicles have to carry another two liters less. But this absolute figure of two liters dates back to when the volume of the tanks was still 81 liters. In other words, these two liters represent a much higher percentage now that the tank volume has been reduced to 60 liters, and that’s unjustifiable. To put it into practical terms, hybrid vehicles may well have to make a pit stop one lap earlier than the diesel vehicles without a hybrid system at Le Mans in the future. How are we then expected to make the spectators understand the technological advances being made?"
Hybrid drives are allowed to transfer their recuperated energy to the front wheels too, but only at speeds in excess of 120 km/h. What does that mean?
"It means that, with a hybrid drive, it’s not possible to pass on any traction advantages gained from tight corners to the front wheels. So in this scenario too, a hybrid system is unable to offer an advantage. And the less useful a technology is, the more questionable it becomes as to whether it makes sense to invest in such systems."
There have also been a number of changes in relation to safety. There is the rear fin and then there will now also be obligatory openings above the front and rear wheels. Are you happy with these changes?
"I am always happy to see the safety of the vehicles being increased. But checks need to be carried out to determine how much safer they are and whether there are actually any safety improvements at all. The fin dimensions are only being marginally changed. But the openings that now have to be above the wheels are a lot more serious. They are supposed to prevent a vehicle from losing contact with the ground on one side when the vehicle is at a large heading angle and therefore spinning. This is certainly the right idea in theory. But these openings unfortunately reduce the vehicle’s stability on the straight because its center of gravity shifts forward, thereby increasing the likelihood that the driver will oversteer. In other words, the risk of the vehicle spinning out of control is actually increased."
How would you sum up all of the changes being implemented in 2012?
"We have made it known to the ACO that we do not agree with some of the steps they are taking. The ACO has systematically turned the 24 Hours of Le Mans into a forward-looking laboratory, has often played a pioneering role, and has, together with the automobile manufacturers, therefore made some major contributions not just to motorsport, but to automotive developments in general. But it is now trying to strike a balance by putting the performance of relatively old vehicles and engines on a par with cutting-edge developments. And as far as we are concerned, this does nothing to promote technological progress!"
Coming up next week
October 23, Hockenheim (D), DTM, round 10
October 23, Campo Grande (BR), Brazilian GT Championship, round 8
October 23, Assen (NL), Dutch Supercar Challenge, round 10
October 23, Suzuka (J), Super Taikyu Series, round 4
October 23, Spa (B), Belcar Championship, round 6