The new Audi R8 LMS GT3 sportscar successfully passed the ultimate endurance test: In the fastest 24-hour race the Nurburgring has ever seen, all four Audi R8 LMS cars crossed the finish line. In doing so, Christian Abt, Jean-Francois Hemroulle, Pierre Kaffer and Lucas Luhr (Team ABT Sportsline) clinched an unexpected second place in front of 235000 spectators (throughout the weekend) and grabbed victory in the GT3 class for the Audi R8 LMS at its first 24-hour run.
"This race represented a final test for the Audi R8 LMS under extreme conditions on the world's longest race track," said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich.
Just a few hours before the finish, there was a sensation when Marc Basseng, Mike Rockenfeller and Frank Stippler in the #99 Audi R8 LMS of Team Phoenix Racing was leading the race for almost 17 hours before the car stopped due to problem with the power transmission system - at 11:21 am in the Karussell sector. After replacing the right rear suspension and driveshaft, the German drivers were able to continue the race with a six-lap gap and finally finished in fifth place.
Frank Biela, Marcel Fassler, Emanuele Pirro and Hans-Joachim Stuck (#98 R8 LMS Phoenix Racing) in twelfth place had a stop-and-go penalty that cost the seasoned campaigners three minutes in the starting phase. During the night a leaking cooler for the power steering system had to be exchanged, which cost about 30 minutes more. By noon on Sunday, the car was back in the top six before the gearbox had to be replaced.
Mattias Ekstrom, Timo Scheider and Marco Werner (#100 R8 LMS Team ABT Sportsline) suffered misfortune when their vehicle was hit in the rear right at the start, crushing the right-hand tailpipe in the process. Shortly afterwards, the engine stopped. After an extensive effort to find the source of the problem, the mechanics discovered a defective plug, which had caused a short circuit and resulted in an overloading of the CAN-bus on-board system.
From 166th place, Ekstrom, Scheider and Werner recovered to 23rd, despite stopping a second time on the Nordschleife during the night with a fuel supply problem and, later, a right rear suspension repair.
"We'll analyze the problems on the three other vehicles and feed the findings into the final version of the R8 LMS, which will be delivered to customers starting this autumn," said Dr Wolfgang Ullrich.
"None of us really expected us to clinch a podium result here," said driver Lucas Luhr after the race. "Putting a new car on the podium in its first run at a 24-hour race is a great achievement."