Victory and championship lead for Audi in New Zealand
In the North Island Endurance Series in New Zealand, there is tension in the title fight after the first success of the season by the IMS Racing customer team. Audi Sport customer racing’s other successes on the last weekend in May include a hard-fought second place by Team WRT in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup as well as individual successes by the Audi R8 LMS GT4 and Audi RS 3 LMS.
Tie at the halfway point: With a victory in the second round of the North Island Endurance Series, the two Audi privateer drivers Neil Foster and Jonny Reid are creating suspense in the title fight in New Zealand. Gentleman driver Foster and his New Zealand compatriot and fellow competitor Reid celebrated their first victory of the season in the Audi R8 LMS for Team IMS Racing at Hampton Downs. In a daring overtaking maneuver, Reid pushed past the long-dominant Aston Martin of Alex Ribeiras and defended his lead against the Spaniard’s attacks. At the last pit stop around 30 minutes before the end of the three-hour race, the long-standing Audi privateer team decided not to change tires. This move paid off: After 166 laps, Foster and Reid won by one lap. After two of four races, the two Audi drivers and the duo of Riberas/Darren Kelly are tied at the top of the standings in terms of points at the halfway point of the season. The two decisive races are on the calendar of the North Island Endurance Series within the next five weeks. An Audi privateer also clinched a trophy in the one-hour race of this series at Hampton Downs. Anthony Leighs finished second in the first-generation Audi R8 LMS. Together with another competitor, he is tied on second position in the points in the one-hour standings.
Strong recovery in Le Castellet: At the second round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup, Team WRT managed an excellent performance in the race after a difficult weekend. Kelvin van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts had only qualified for 14th place on the grid. In the course of six hours of racing, the three Audi Sport drivers fought their way up to second place. Weerts had dropped back to 18th place in the pack at the beginning but improved to eleventh position by the end of his double stint. Kelvin van der Linde made up further ground and handed over the Audi R8 LMS to Dries Vanthoor in seventh place. The Belgian continued to work his way forward in the fiercely contested leading group in which there were only four seconds between the top five contenders. Three corners before the end of the race at midnight, he grabbed third place from the Lamborghini ahead of him. When a Ferrari team subsequently received a penalty, the result eventually turned into second place for the best of the eight Audi R8 LMS cars in the field. After Kelvin van der Linde clinched victory in the virtual race for the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series at Le Castellet and thus scored valuable points for the team classification, Team WRT is now the leader of the standings for the first time in this classification that combines real and virtual racing. After the race in the south of France, Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts also lead the combined overall standings of the Sprint and Endurance racing series, as does Team WRT.