Audi Sport Team wins 2019 Suzuka 10 Hours
AT THE end, the Audi Sport Team WRT’s margin of 40 seconds, not to mention having led 201 of 268 laps, was more than enough for drivers Kelvin van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Frederic Vervisch to claim the top podium step at the recent 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge at the Suzuka 10 Hours in Japan.
First to take the checkered flag in the Japan round of the world’s only GT3 racing series was the No. 25 Audi R8 LMS GT3. It was followed home by GruppeM Racing’s Mercedes-AMG and Absolute Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 R, which claimed third place.
“By clinching victory in Japan, Audi Sport Team WRT delivered an impeccable performance in this crucial phase of the championship,” said Chris Reinke, head of Audi Sport customer racing. “As a result, following a difficult start to the season, we put ourselves in the best possible position.”
GruppeM, driven by Maxi Buhk, Raffaele Marciello and Maro Engel, produced a similarly impressive performance at Suzuka 12 months ago but had to settle for second this time after failing to match the Audi’s pace throughout the race. Absolute Racing’s Dirk Werner, Matt Campbell and Dennis Olsen returned to the podium for the first time since winning at Bathurst, although theirs and GruppeM’s final positions owed much to a refueling issue that cost Absolute’s Audi a certain second place during its final pitstop.
BMW’s M6 looked like the car to beat during the first two hours when Team Schnitzer’s Martin Tomczyk converted pole position into the lead. He was joined at the front by Nick Catsburg who passed Van der Linde on the opening lap. However, Walkenhorst’s hopes were dashed early in the second hour when Christian Krognes’ M6 was tagged by a spinning Nissan. The damage initially appeared superficial but proved terminal soon after.
Audi first hit the front after the second round of scheduled pitstops when Schnitzer opted to re-set their stint time by driving through the pitlane during a full course yellow period. A subsequent stop-go penalty for a short, scheduled stop signaled the beginning of the end for BMW’s victory hopes, although the car shared by Tomczyk, Nick Yelloly and Pole Shootout hero Augusto Farfus did ultimately come home fifth.
An early suspension issue consigned M-Sport’s other Bentley Continental to a lonely afternoon.
The same couldn’t be said for Ferrari, whose full-season entry, HubAuto Corsa, had two separate incidents, the second of which — a heavy impact at 130R — hastened its retirement despite the damage being fixed.
The Intercontinental GT Challenge will next visit Africa’s Kyalami circuit on November 23. This race will decide if Audi, after two victories in the drivers’ and three in the manufacturers’ classifications since 2016, will be able to claim its sixth title in the racing series.
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.