Déjà vu, and Double-Vision, for APR Motorsport at Watkins Glen
Déjà vu, and Double-Vision, for APR Motorsport at Watkins Glen
Both APR Audi R8’s Slowed With Mechanical Problems in Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen
July 6, 2012 (Watkins Glen, N.Y.) — A promising start to the Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen unraveled for the pair of APR Audi R8 Grand-Am’s. But for a while, they sure looked cool racing around the 3.4-mile Watkins Glen International Circuit together.
Bookending the field, the no. 52 APR Audi R8 Grand-Am of Frank Stippler and Marc Basseng started the race from second position. After an incident during practice, the no. 51 APR Audi R8 Grand-Am was unable to take part in qualifying, so the car driven by Ian Baas, Dr. Jim Norman, and Dion von Moltke would start last on the grid.
The opening stint saw Stippler fall to fourth but able to run with the leaders, while Baas was able to make steady progress through the field. After the first round of pitstops, the no. 51 APR Audi R8 would come out ahead of the no. 52 APR Audi R8 Grand-Am, with Basseng now at the wheel. Baas ran as high as eighth before a failed wheel bearing slowed the car and ultimately sent it back to the trailer for repairs.
The sister car would not escape problems either, as in the fourth hour, Stippler was forced to bring the no. 52 APR Audi R8 Grand-Am back to the trailer for repairs – as it turned out, the same wheel bearing had failed on that car.
Out of contention, the no. 52 APR Audi R8 Grand-Am would take the checkered flag in 12th position, while the no. 51 APR Audi R8 Grand-Am finished in 18th. The car was driven to the checkered by Norman, who gave his team a reason to celebrate when he ran his two fastest times of the race on his final two laps.
“It was a blast at the end of my stint,” said Norman. “The crew worked their butts off all weekend, but because they had to work on the car so much, I had very few laps in the car before the race started. So I spent my stint learning the car, getting faster, faster, faster, and I was pretty happy by the end of the stint. There is definitely more there. Working with Audi this weekend has been very educational. As a driver, I learned a lot working with Ian and Dion this weekend, they are both great teachers.”
Baas, who made steady progress through the field during the opening hour, was enthused about the progress the team made on the Audi R8 Grand-Am.
“Considering the trials that the team went through, the car was really good for the start of the race,” said Baas. “I think we started the race the best we could have, and we were looking like a top-ten for us. We have a lot of new info, but certainly we’ve found some things on both cars that we need to address.”
Von Moltke was scheduled to get into the no. 51 APR Audi R8 Grand-Am when Baas encountered his problems. After repairs were made and three trouble-free stints, von Moltke handed off a strong car to Norman.
“Unfortunately we had another weekend where the result doesn’t show just how hard the whole team worked,” said von Moltke. “We learned a lot working with the Audi Sport guys, with Frank and Marc, and we definitely made progress on the car. It wasn’t as much as we would like, but it’s a step in the right direction. Thanks to our crew, they made the car perfect every time we had some damage. The car was pretty good when I got into it and I know we made a lot of progress working with the Audi Sport guys this weekend. I’m looking forward to putting that into use at Indy.”
Joining APR Motorsport for the first time, and with the coolest hometown of all time, Frank Stippler, from Bad Munstereifel, Germany, found the Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen a challenge.
“APR Motorsport is a very nice team and Watkins Glen is a very nice track,” said Stippler. “The car was consistent and fine. I think we got the most out of it, but the Audi R8 Grand-Am still has a big disadvantage in traffic. If we have clean air, the car is good, but it is difficult to overtake other cars like this. I enjoyed the weekend and I like the American way of racing. It was a very nice experience.”
After a stretch of four races in five weeks, the APR Motorsport team will enjoy a short break before competing in the inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix, on July 27, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
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