Audi Sport customer racing achieved sixth place in the 2023 Nürburgring 24 Hours. Audi Sport Team Land achieved this result after a flawless drive by the three Audi Sport drivers Christopher Haase/Christopher Mies/Patric Niederhauser in the number 39 Audi R8 LMS. The brand also thrilled the 235,000 fans off the track throughout the weekend with many activities surrounding the birthday of its subsidiary Audi Sport GmbH.
“The 24-hour race at the Nürburgring was the perfect backdrop to kick off the birthday celebration of our performance brand Audi Sport GmbH,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Rolf Michl. “Our teams also presented the brand with great commitment.” Five different manufacturers finished in the top six positions in the end. “We saw a fast and tough race with a great diversity of brands in the front field,” says Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “Wolfgang and Christian Land’s squad was flawless for 24 hours. We would have liked to defend our title. Thanks to everyone for their professional efforts and congratulations to Ferrari on their first victory.”
Audi Sport Team Land – winner of the 2017 edition – had started the race from 16th place. The two previous winners Christopher Haase and Christopher Mies, together with driver colleague Patric Niederhauser, kept out of all critical situations in a turbulent race marked by several accidents. They came through a field of 131 race cars without any damage or penalties and finished sixth.
The competition also started promisingly for last year’s winner Frédéric Vervisch. The Audi Sport driver was on the grid with his teammates Mattia Drudi, Ricardo Feller and Dennis Lind for Audi Sport Team Scherer PHX. In the course of the first race hours, the number 1 Audi R8 LMS was in the lead at times. In the fourth and fifth hours of the race, however, the team earned three time penalties that added up to 4.36 minutes. Shortly after the halfway point of the race, Vervisch slid into the track barrier in darkness on an unmarked oil spot on the 81st lap. Only seconds later, the number 5 Audi of the Scherer Sport PHX team, which had been among the top three at the beginning, suffered the same fate. Audi Sport driver Frank Stippler, who shared the cockpit with Vincent Kolb, Alexander Sims and Renger van der Zande, was just as without a chance as Vervisch. Both GT3 sports cars retired as a result of the accidents.
Audi only narrowly missed a second top ten result. The number 16 R8 LMS from the Scherer Sport PHX team dropped from ninth to eleventh place in the final hour due to a puncture. Michele Beretta/Kim-Luis Schramm and Audi Sport drivers Ricardo Feller and Markus Winkelhock took turns at the wheel.
Number 40 from Audi Sport Team Scherer PHX already caused quite a stir in the run-up to the event. The three former DTM champions Mike Rockenfeller, Timo Scheider and Martin Tomczyk were among the most sought-after drivers at autograph sessions and media appointments. Just like their teammates, they had lined up in an R8 LMS with a historic livery reminiscent of Audi motorsport history. The driver trio with the number 40 proved that they haven’t forgotten anything even years after their title successes. A successful drive without penalties and mistakes ended in twelfth place for the three Germans. The brand celebrated the 40th birthday of Audi Sport GmbH with race number 40. This included an exhibition, an exclusive parade, a customer event and other attractions.
Audi Sport Team Car Collection’s number 22 had already set its sights on a top ten result with the four Audi Sport youngsters Luca Engstler/Max Hofer/Gilles Magnus/Dennis Marschall. However, Magnus hit a grass strip while lapping on Sunday afternoon and touched the guard rail. After changing two track rods, this R8 LMS finished in 13th position.
Sharky Racing demonstrated a strong team performance. The Audi customer team fielded an RS 3 LMS in the race’s TCR category. After an accident in the seventh hour of racing, team boss Frank Hess’ squad was busy until sunrise carrying out extensive repairs to the front axle, rear axle and bodywork. Since driver Volker Garrn did not compete after his accident, Artur Goroyan and Roman Mavlanov contested the remaining race hours in pairs. In the end, they finished fifth in the TCR class.
The next endurance classic for Audi Sport customer racing is on the calendar in Belgium in just six weeks. Audi has already won the Spa 24 Hours four times with the R8 LMS since 2011.