At the incredibly thrilling season-opening round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC), Audi Sport fell short of its own expectations. After racing cars from seven different manufacturers had qualified in the top ten, Audi headed into the Bathurst 12-hour race feeling optimistic. However, setbacks hampered…
It’s official – Patric Niederhauser (27, CH) and Kelvin van der Linde (23, ZA, both HCB-Rutronik Racing) have wrapped up the ADAC GT Masters drivers’ championship at Hockenheim with a second victory of the campaign, and with two races to spare. The Swiss-South African pairing…
It’s been one of my busier summers so far, having nine race weekends in the last two-and-a-half months. At the same time it has been a summer of mixed fortunes, with some very high moments and equally low moments.
We went into ADAC GT Masters in the best possible way, by adding to our strong points haul, and securing our championship lead heading into the mid-season break, before we get going again in Zandvoort early in August.
It has been a great adventure so far, coming along with a new team and having a run like we have had, is something that doesn’t come around often, so I’m definitely trying to ride the wave as long as possible!
From there we headed to my personal highlight and one of the biggest endurance races of the season, the Nurburgring 24 Hours.
The weekend started of a bit slow but as the week progressed, we began to pick up some momentum. After qualifying outside the top-15, our biggest target was to work our way back into the top-five by the end of the race.
Photo: Gruppe C Photography
However, the ‘Green Hell’ once again proved its mysterious nature by providing a spectacular race once again.
We spent most of the race on the chase, at one point even trailing the leaders by over 5 minutes! Miraculously though, we found ourselves in contention for a win as Sunday morning arrived.
A number of penalties and crashes by some of the top lineups got us back into the action. With three hours to go we were fighting for the lead with our teammates from Audi Sport Team Phoenix.
I had felt great all week in the car and knew we were in with a shot at the end. However, lady luck had something to say about that and we suffered a tire failure at the most inconvenient moment on the racetrack, just after joining the Nordschleife.
Having to run almost 20 km without a right rear tire obviously had its challenges.
As if the puncture was not enough, the carcass of the tire did not detach from the rim and as a result I had a massive rubber belt destroying everything in its path.
The car took a serious beating, the tyre eventually destroying all our oil coolers which are situated at the right rear of the car. I was forced to stop the car as a result and endured one of the hardest moments in my career, just hours away from what would have been an unbelievable comeback for our team.
It was a massive blow for me, especially because it’s a race that carries so much weight and importance in my life.
However, in motorsport and especially GT racing, we don’t have much time to dwell on the past. Tuesday morning, I was already home doing all my washing and packing my bags for the following weekend.
Our Blancpain GT Series season has also been a difficult one so far, characterized by a lot of technical failures and sometimes just pure bad luck.
A solid top-five result in Misano was hampered by an air jack issue on Sunday and a back-to-back DNF in Zandvoort due to a brake failure on Saturday and collision for my teammate, Clemens, on Sunday has thrown us out of the championship battle for the moment.
Heading into Spa, one of the more important races of the season, I will be approaching it with an open mind.
I will be on a customer car this year in a support role for Attempto Racing. Coming off a very memorable third place last year with my brother, Sheldon, this year will once again be a new experience for me from a different perspective.
All in all I’m enjoying the busy season so far and I’m happy to sacrifice a bit of luck in Blancpain GT if it helps with the hunt for a second GT Masters title.
Some of my favorite races are still to come, including the Suzuka 10 Hours and my home race for the Kyalami 9 Hour, so I am still fully motivated and ready to tackle the remainder of the season a three-day stopover somewhere in Spain or the South of France for a mini holiday would be nice though!
I look forward to meeting some of you at one of the upcoming events.
Photo: Gruppe C Photography
Tour Dates: July – September:
BGT , Zandvoort – 7.13
24 Hours of Spa – 7.27
GTM, Zandvoort – 8.10
GTM, Nürburgring – 8.17
Suzuka 10H – 8.24
BGT, Nürburgring – 8.31
BGT, Budapest – 9.7
GTM, Hockenheim – 9.14
GTM, Sachsenring – 9.28
Last weekend, the opening event of the ADAC GT Masters season took place in Oschersleben. In changeable weather, with a record fan attendance, HCB-Rutronik Racing made its race debut in the series and impressed with a podium finish in the first race. South African Kelvin…
It’s been a pretty busy couple of weeks, so here’s a quick update on what’s been happening. My ADAC GT Masters program was announced, where I will be driving for HCB-Rutronik Racing alongside a good friend and someone I rate very highly, Patric Niederhauser. It’s…
Audi Sport customer racing holds a record in the Intercontinental GT Challenge, the world’s most prestigious GT3 racing series. The Audi R8 LMS has been unbeaten to date in the California 8 Hours in the United States. Following two straight victories, Audi is now aiming to continue its string of success at Laguna Seca on March 30 when the new evolution of the Audi R8 LMS will compete in this racing series for the first time.
Audi has special memories of the upcoming California 8 Hours on the race track at Laguna Seca. The roller coaster circuit some 200 kilometers south of San Francisco combines diverse cornering radii on a length of only 3.6 kilometers and significant elevation changes. The Corkscrew corner with its heavily dropping left-right section is unique in the world and popular with all race drivers.
On this race track, the Audi R8 and Audi R10 TDI Le Mans prototypes scored a total of eight victories in the former American Le Mans Series for sports cars in North America between 2000 and 2008. Pierre Kaffer/Kelvin van der Linde/Markus Winkelhock decided the inaugural race of the California 8 Hours in 2017 in their favor with Audi. Winkelhock won the drivers’ classification of this series as well, and Audi the manufacturers’ classification. A year later, the Audi R8 LMS was again unbeatable: Kelvin van der Linde together with Christopher Haase and Christopher Mies after eight thrilling hours of racing celebrated victory ahead of Robin Frijns/Dries Vanthoor/Markus Winkelhock in another Audi R8 LMS last October.
This year, six Audi Sport drivers will be on the grid. Christopher Haase will be racing with Dries Vanthoor and Frédéric Vervisch for Audi Sport Team WRT. Audi Sport Team Land that was victorious last year will again have Kelvin van der Linde and Christopher Mies on board. Markus Winkelhock completes this driver lineup.
Three sessions and a pole shootout qualifying for the top 15 grid positions on Friday, March 29, will be followed by the race on Saturday. The race is scheduled to start at 8.30 AM local time (CET – 8 hours).
Spectacular finale at the fourth and final round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC): At Laguna Seca/USA, Audi Sport customer racing turned a nine-point deficit into an 11-point advantage to secure the title in the manufacturers’ classification for the third consecutive time. This was thanks…
The Audi Sport Team Absolute Racing celebrated a superb podium in the Suzuka 10 Hours this passed weekend. Audi Sport drivers Christopher Haase/Kelvin van der Linde/Markus Winkelhock brought their #6 Audi R8 LMS home in third place after the ten hour-long race.
The 47th running of the Suzuka Summer Endurance Race in Japan was an incredibly tough race and attracted a stellar entry of GT3 cars for round three of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
The race build-up and qualifying went very well and both Absolute Racing-run cars showed speed. Winkelhock was charged with going for the Pole Shoot-out qualifying lap on Saturday and posted the eleventh fastest time.
With an outside temperature well above 30 degrees Celsius, the Suzuka 10 Hours proved to be a tough test for man and machine. Taking up the race from eleventh on the grid, Haase/van der Linde/Winkelhock fought their way up to position three as the best driver trio in an Audi R8 LMS, despite being handed a drive-through penalty in the second hour of the race. At the flag, the #6 Audi Sport Team Absolute Racing trio were only 1.2 seconds shy of second place.
“It was a very memorable weekend in Japan. the local support was amazing to see and ofcourse to drive at such an iconic racetrack was one of my season highlights. I want to thank the team for an extremely professional approach to their first ever Factory supported race, they really deserved this result!”
Goodbye from Japan’s #Suzuka10H in @IntercontGTC and good luck to Audi in DTM now. @m_winkelhock, @KelvinvdLinde and @ChHaase have clinched an 8 million yen price with Audi Sport Team @absolute_racing. Thank you everyone! #GT3 #LeagueofPerformance pic.twitter.com/sO7P8hIgKL
— Audi Sport (@audisport) August 26, 2018
Audi Sport customer racing took third place on the podium in the overall classification in the 70th running of the Spa 24 Hours. The brothers Sheldon and Kelvin van der Linde finished third together with Jeffrey Schmidt. A change to the performance categorization on race…