As we previously reported, for the first time on American soil, the Audi R8 Grand-Am will make its debut on the 50th running of the Daytona 24 Hour race on January 26-29.
Teams APR Motorsport and Oryx Racing are each fielding one of the newly developed customer racecars in the GT class of the endurance classic.
On the event’s 50th anniversary, the organizers are treating the audience to an unusual and spectacular experience. A champions party with numerous racing legends, an exhibition of historic winning cars, a carnival complete with Ferris Wheel, a 5km run on the track for sports enthusiasts on Saturday before the race as well as autograph sessions and pit walks are just some of the attractions featured on the last weekend in January.
"We are proud to be part of the action for the first time at the event’s special anniversary," said Werner Frowein from quattro GmbH, which developed the Audi R8 Grand-Am.
"Two customer teams have already opted for our new racecar and we are currently in negotiations with other buyers. Following its appearance at Daytona, the Audi R8 Grand-Am will also be seen at the other 12 rounds of the series. In the future, our customers will be supported directly by Audi of America."
At the season opener, the Audi R8 Grand-Am is competing against almost 30 other vehicles in the extremely large GT class, while Daytona Prototypes are driving for overall victory.
The Daytona 24 Hours marks the beginning of the 2012 Grand-Am Road Racing season. In 2008, Audi was last represented in the United States for a season with a factory commitment featuring the Audi R10 TDI LMP1 sports car and won the title in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). This was followed by only isolated sports prototype commitments at Sebring and Road Atlanta. Now the APR Motorsport and Oryx Racing customer teams are flying the colors of Audi Sport customer racing as part of their own commitment.
"Entering the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series is the biggest challenge APR Motorsport has taken on so far," emphasised Stephen Hooks of APR. "Our team prepared for this step at previous runs in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. We’re looking forward to the Audi R8 Grand-Am with huge anticipation, our customers and fans are excited and since the ‘Roar before the 24’ test, we’ve just been dying for the 24-hour race to start.”
The team, based in Opelika, Alabama, is relying on a five-strong international driver squad. The Americans Ian Baas and Dr Jim Norman are jpoined by Nelson Canache from Venezuela, Dion von Moltke with South African roots, plus former Audi factory driver Emanuele Pirro from Italy.
Oryx Racing will compete at Daytona with team owner and driver Humaid Al Masaood from the United Arab Emirates. He will be sharing the car with compatriot Saeed Al Mehairi and Briton Steven Kane.
"2012 is a new chapter for Oryx Racing and Arabic motorsport," said a delighted Al Masaood. "We’re entering a new car in a series that’s new to us. It was important to be involved in the project right from the beginning and help to develop this fascinating customer racing car to become as competitive as possible."
The team hails from the United Arab Emirates and has a base in the United States in West College Corner near Indianapolis.
After a qualifying session on Thursday, the race will start on Saturday (January 28) and end on Sunday (January 29) at 15:30, local time.
Schedule (local times)
Thursday, January 26
10:00-11:30 Free practice
13:30-14:30 Free practice
18:30-20:30 Free practice
Friday, January 27
09:00-09:45 Free practice
11:00-12:00 Free practice
Saturday, January 28 15:30 Race (24 hours)