Two times three: For Audi, the Spa 24 Hours is about scoring the third victory in succession – plus the third victory in a 24-hour race this year. In 2011 and 2012, the Audi R8 LMS won the iconic event in the Ardennes. And this year, the brand, on winning the GT class at the Daytona 24 Hours with the R8 GRAND-AM and achieving the twelfth overall victory of an Audi sports prototype at the Le Mans 24 Hours, has celebrated two international successes in endurance racing so far.
At Spa, a competition of mammoth proportions is awaiting the teams, as 73 entrants have registered for the fourth round of the Blancpain Endurance Series on July 27 and 28. Nine sports car manufacturers are competing for victory. The intensity of this GT3 competition is unrivaled worldwide. Audi celebrated the first overall victory of its R8 LMS customer sports race car in a 24-hour race at Spa two years ago – fielded by Team WRT, driven by Mattias Ekström and his two teammates Timo Scheider and Greg Franchi. The two-time DTM Champion Ekström is now returning to the historic venue with WRT, running as the team-mate of his Swedish compatriot Edward Sandström. The third in the trio is Audi factory driver Marcel Fässler, the 2011 and 2012 Le Mans winner. Fässler’s Le Mans team-mate André Lotterer is traveling to the Ardennes as well. The German, who grew up in Belgium, is sharing the number ‘2’ R8 LMS ultra with Blancpain Endurance Champion Christopher Mies and last year’s winner Frank Stippler.
The Belgian WRT squad of Team Director Vincent Vosse is putting two other R8 LMS ultra cars on the grid at its home round. Rahel Frey, as in the other rounds of the Blancpain Endurance Series, is sharing the cockpit of a car designated as number ‘0’ with Matt Halliday and Niki Mayr-Melnhof. Stéphane Ortelli, the winner of last year’s Blancpain Endurance Series, is sharing car number ‘1’ with last year’s winner René Rast and with Laurens Vanthoor.
Ernst Moser’s Team Phoenix Racing is competing with its two well-known regular driver line-ups from the Blancpain Endurance Series. Christopher Haase, Champion of the Blancpain Endurance Series, is sharing car number ‘6’ with Harold Primat and Audi factory driver Oliver Jarvis, the GT class winner of the 2013 Daytona 24 Hours. Enzo Ide, Anthony Kumpen and Markus Winkelhock are taking the wheel of the sister car designated as number ’16.’
A seventh Audi R8 LMS ultra will be put on the grid by United Autosports. The Anglo American privateer team of Richard Dean and Zak Brown is running in the classic race for the fourth consecutive time. In the Pro-Am class, the squad relies on the British drivers Will Bratt and Glynn Geddie, the native Frenchman Alain Li and on Mark Patterson from the United States.
Thursday, July 25
09:45–11:15 Free practice 1
Friday, July 26
18:15–18:35 Super pole qualifying
Saturday, July 27
Sunday, July 28