Audi Sport customer racing made a furious start to the new DTM season with the R8 LMS. Kelvin van der Linde won at the opening weekend at Monza ahead of Nico Müller. In the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, Dries Vanthoor/Charles Weerts remain championship leaders while Gregory Guilvert/Fabien Michal extended their lead in the GT4 European Series. The Audi RS 3 LMS completes an outstanding weekend record with victories in five championships.
Audi R8 LMS GT3
Strong one-two victory at the season opener at Monza: The DTM started into a new era with GT3 sports cars in Italy and Audi is among the winners with the R8 LMS from the very beginning. On his 25th birthday, Audi Sport driver Kelvin van der Linde was unbeatable on the high-speed circuit at Monza on race Sunday. Already in qualifying, the South African from Team ABT Sportsline proved his class with a best time in the Audi R8 LMS – the five brands in the top six positions were separated by just 0.248 seconds. On his fastest lap, van der Linde benefited, among other things, from a slipstream that brand colleague Nico Müller from Team Rosberg had given him. In the race, a key situation arose in the first turn: Van der Linde defended first place against Saturday’s winner Liam Lawson and thus maintained his advantage on a high-speed track on which overtaking is extremely difficult for the Audi drivers. Subsequently, the DTM rookie was in full control of the action for 50 race minutes, won by 3.3 seconds and took the lead of the standings. Team Rosberg completed Audi Sport customer racing’s one-two victory. Nico Müller had started in fourth place and at the beginning found himself in a three-way battle with BMW driver Sheldon van der Linde and previous day’s winner Liam Lawson in the Ferrari. On the track he made up one position and thanks to an excellent pit stop by Team Rosberg he gained another position to finish second. While this was the first victory with the R8 LMS in this traditional racing series for Audi Sport customer racing at the beginning of the GT era in the DTM, the brand with the four rings has now increased its historic DTM overall tally to 131 victories since 1990.
Third place and lead of the standings at Zandvoort: Team WRT was the best Audi Sport customer racing squad at the second race weekend of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Powered by AWS. The two Audi Sport drivers Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts finished third in the second sprint race at Zandvoort despite several adversities. Vanthoor had qualified the Audi R8 LMS for the front row of the grid with the second-best lap time. In the scrum after the start, the Belgian dropped back to fifth place and handed over the car in fourth position at the mandatory pit stop. Charles Weerts was then in second place when he had to take a drive-through penalty because the car’s pace in the pit lane had been too high. In the end, third place was the best result of the eight Audi entries in the field. In the overall standings of the race series, which combines sprint and endurance races, Vanthoor/Weerts as leaders of the standings have an 8.5-point advantage in the drivers standings after four of ten events. Team WRT leads the team classification, with the closest of a total of 19 pursuers 14.5 points behind them.
Two trophies in Denmark: Valdemar Eriksen celebrated two podium results in the fourth round of the Danish Endurance Championship at Padborg. The privateer driver in the Audi R8 LMS won his class in the first one-hour race and finished second in the second race.
Audi R8 LMS GT4
Lead in the standings extended: The Saintéloc Racing team has significantly increased its lead in the standings at the season’s halfway point in the GT4 European Series. Gregory Guilvert/Fabien Michal had secured the second grid position for each of the two races at the Zandvoort circuit in the Audi R8 LMS GT4. In Saturday’s race, which race control waved off behind the safety car after an accident, the two Frenchmen finished in second place and already scored their fourth class victory of the season in the Pro-Am classification. On Sunday, events repeated themselves: Michal/Guilvert were again second overall when, once again, an accident towards the end of the race forced a safety car period, meaning Michal was unable to fight for victory after a strong drive. Nevertheless, the team from Saint-Étienne in eastern France can be satisfied: In the Pro-Am standings, Guilvert/Michal have extended their lead by nine to 50 points at the halfway point of the season. In the Am classification of the most high-profile European GT4 racing series, Michael Blanchemain/Christophe Hamon from Team Fullmotorsport are two other Audi privateer drivers in the lead.
Success at Zwartkops: Marius Jackson recorded two podium successes in the South African G&H Transport Extreme Supercars race series. On the Zwartkops circuit, the privateer driver in the Audi R8 LMS GT4 won his class by 10.9 seconds in the first race. In the second race he finished third.