The Audi R8 LMS is facing a special test in Australia. In one of Audi Sport customer racing’s most important markets, the sports car is supposed to continue its string of success in endurance racing. Following victories in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring and the Sepang 12 Hours last year, the GT3 sports car won the Dubai 24 Hours two weeks ago and the GTD class of the Daytona 24 Hours yesterday as well. On Sunday, February 7, the current generation of the R8 LMS will be tackling the Bathurst 12 Hour for the first time. The previous model had clinched two victories there.
24 race cars from seven manufacturers are meeting in the most powerful class at Bathurst, with Audi being the most popular brand at famous “Mount Panorama.” Six customer teams are relying on a total of seven Audi R8 LMS. No other manufacturer has as many cars in the field of the major Australian endurance race held on the challenging 6.213-kilometer roller-coaster track in the state of New South Wales, and no other manufacturer has won there twice with a GT3 sports car.
“Since 2011, GT3 models have been permitted to form part of the field at Bathurst. A fierce competition has ensued ever since. During this time, Audi has impressed an increasing number of customers with its sports cars: they are no doubt excited about the upcoming premiere of the new car in Australia,” says Romolo Liebchen, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. Four different marques have won the 12-hour race in the past five years. Audi was victorious in 2011 and 2012, most recently with Team Phoenix Racing that will be on the grid again this year.
The livery of the Phoenix Audi takes its cue from the local Bathurst Wiradyuri Aboriginal Community, who contributed to the design. The goanna and the platypus are native animals to Australia, and feature prominently in the design. The goanna is the Wiradyuri people’s totem, while the platypus is the most important dreaming story in the area. It is the first time a race car with an Australian Indigenous livery has ever competed in a motorsport event.
Laurens Vanthoor (B) and Markus Winkelhock (D) – last year’s runners-up with a gap of just two seconds – are sharing the race car of the German team with local hero Alex Davison.
Among others, their challengers within the Audi brand lineup include Jamec Pem Racing, who won the Australian GT Championship last year. The squad is contesting the race with two new R8 LMS cars. In the cockpits: two-time Bathurst winner Christopher Mies, his German compatriot Christopher Haase and last year’s runner-up Marco Mapelli (I), plus Australians Steven McLaughlan and Garth Tander, who will be sharing driving duties with René Rast (D). The local Supabarn Supermarkets and Arris/GT Motorsport teams are relying on the new generation of the R8 LMS as well. Two of the proven previous models of the race car are completing the lineup of the brand with the four rings – Teams Hallmarc/Network Clothing and International Motorsport are contesting the event with the R8 LMS ultra.