Thunderhill 25 Hours: Overall victory for Rotek Racing Audi TT RS
Two Audi Sport customer racing teams were entered for the event.
The Thunderhill 25 Hours took place at Thunderhill Raceway this weekend. Two Audi Sport customer racing teams were entered for the event, which saw ups and downs for both teams during the very cold and eventful twenty-five hours.
GMG Racing entered their #08 Audi R8 LMS. This was the team’s only entry despite two cars from GMG Racing being listed on the original entry list. Rotek Racing was the second Audi Sport customer racing team to enter the event. They entered their #24 Audi TT RS (VLN SP4T), the same car that the team used for the 2013 VLN Endurance Series in Germany.
A seven and a half hour testing session got proceedings underway on Thursday. This was followed by another test session of equal length on Friday and a practice/qualifying session later in the evening.
Rotek Racing was able to show very good pace with their TT RS during testing and they backed that up with a 1:49.152 lap during qualifying. They overcame a damaged ECU on Thursday and worked through the night to repair the unit for Friday. Their qualifying lap was enough for a ninth place overall starting position, the highest of the two Audis on the grid. The #24 Audi TT RS was driven by Robb Holland, Roland Pritzker, Jeff Altenburg, Rob Huff and Kevin Gleason. Rotek Racing was supported by 034 Motorsport, the team who entered this very same car at this event in 2012.
The GMG Racing team showed good pace during the first testing session on Thursday, but Friday was not their day. GMG Racing had an accident during the Friday morning testing session. Drew Regitz was behind the wheel and the #08 R8 LMS suffered damage to its left side and rear corner, fortunately the driver was unharmed. The team missed qualifying later on Friday evening and they worked very hard to repair the car for the race. The team’s entered drivers for the #08 Audi R8 LMS included James Sofronas, Alex Welch, Alexandra Sabados, Michael McGrath and Drew Regitz.
The race itself began at 11:00 am (local time) in very cold conditions on Saturday morning. 2012 WTCC champion, Rob Huff, was behind the wheel of the Rotek Racing Audi TT RS and he quickly moved through the field. The TT RS and its good fuel consumption saw it moving from ninth into the lead during the first pitstop cycles. GMG Racing started from the back of the field and quickly progressed into the top twenty and later into the top ten. The race continued with the GMG Racing continuing to move forward and Rotek Racing remained in the lead battle.
GMG Racing unfortunately encountered a long penalty and battery related charging issues, which cost them quite a bit of time during the opening hours. The GMG Racing R8 LMS then began a very good recovery drive and they were inside of the top ten by the half-way mark and soon moved up into the top five. Rotek Racing had steadily remained in the lead battle and moved up to and maintained second position by half way.
The early morning hours saw the Rotek Racing TT RS moving between second and third as the rhythm of the race was playing out between the front runners. The TT RS was up against competitors with fuel consumption and pace advantages, but despite this the TT RS remained within the top three battle. Behind the top three the GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS squad had revered up to fourth position, but they were many laps behind third place.
With eight hours to go one of the top three runners, the very fast Wolf vehicle, dropped back and this meant that the Rotek Racing TT RS moved into a more comfortable second position. A confusing period then arose with seven hours remaining. Rotek Racing received a time penalty at the same time that the race leading #03 Superlite SLC vehicle retired with damaged steering. Rotek Racing then moved into the lead of the race. At the same time the GMG Racing R8 LMS lost a lot of time and dropped from fourth to sixth.
The race then saw the Rotek Racing TT RS leading, whilst the second placed Wolf prototype was hunting them down at a much faster pace, with a sixteen lap gap between them. Unfortunately the Wolf vehicle retired with engine failure just before sunrise and Rotek Racing had a twenty-four lap advantage over the third placed #83 Porsche. Some time later the #83 Porsche also suffered problems and the order behind the leading Rotek Racing TT RS then became the #38 Radical SR3 in second ahead of the #83 Porsche and the GMG Racing R8 LMS, both of whom were hunting down the Radical.
James Sofronas was behind the wheel of the GMG Racing R8 LMS and he was flying on track. A tremendous battle for second position developed between the #08 R8 LMS and the #83 Porsche, after they both had gotten past the Radical. The R8 LMS moved into second position for an Audi 1-2, but unfortunately they lost the position and dropped to third during the final two hours.
The Rotek Racing crew maintained their lead and consistent pace and this was enough to ensure overall victory with a twenty-eight lap advantage. This was the first victory for an Audi at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. GMG Racing continued to circulate, but lady luck deserted them during the final twenty minutes and they lost third position overall with a gearbox problem in the pits. They ultimately retired from the race and were classified fourth overall, third within the ES class. The GMG Racing team worked together and pushed their Audi R8 LMS across the line in pitlane at the finish of the race.
It was a great showing from the two Audi Sport customer racing teams this weekend. Rotek Racing took the race win and avenged the race from 2012, when 034 Motorsport was running this very same car and unfortunately retired, whilst leading the race during the night last year. GMG Racing also had a terrific showing as the team never gave up, repairing the car overnight on Friday and soldiering through the race on Saturday and Sunday, narrowly missing a podium finish in the end.
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