An unfortunate refuelling issue with the #125 Audi R8 LMS GT3 in the last hour of the Suzuka 10 Hours race took away a potential race podium for Audi Sport Team Absolute Racing, Markus Winkelhock, Christopher Haase and Christopher Mies as the Intercontinental GT Challenge reconvened for the fourth round of the championship at the weekend (24-25 August).
Audi Sport Team Absolute Racing made its debut at the headline event of the Asian endurance calendar last year, securing a third place finish. This year the Chinese-based team was again fielding an Audi R8 LMS on behalf of the brand, targeting more silverware in the Japan’s most prestigious long-distance event.
Starting from seventh on the grid, Mies made a good getaway from the rolling start, maintaining that position until the first round of pitstops. Lap after lap, the “25 years of RS models” Audi Sport Team Absolute Racing themed car climbed positions through the field up to second.
Up until the tenth hour of the race, the German trio was running in second before refuelling during the last pit stop took too long and caused the team to drop to eighth position. Haase still had time to dispatch the car ahead over the remaining hour to record a seventh-place finish for the team.
Commenting about the race, Team Director Ingo Matter said: “We go away with a frustrating feeling as the pitstop cost us the chance of a podium today. We were so close to repeat last year’s podium finish and offer Audi a much-deserved 1-2 in the race. On the positive, the drivers showed real speed in the race and the car ran flawless. The season ain’t over yet as we switch our focus now to the last race of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia next month in Shanghai.”
Team Manager Michael Schneider added: “Luck was not on our side. We had a challenging race. The drivers did great stints with even better overtaking manoeuvres. The mechanics did a great job in the preparation of the car and pit stops. The engineers gave the drivers a balanced car and made the right strategy calls. Like this we could have fought our way up to P2 for most part of the race. At the last pitstop we had problems to refill the car and within seconds all the team efforts have been destroyed. The whole team would have deserved this second place and it is a real shame that all the hard work has not paid off at the end.”
Pictures @ Courtesy Audi Sport
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