For the fourth time, German car maker Audi has won the prestigious Spa 24 Hours, grabbing manufacturers’ reins of this year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge, comprised of endurance races around the world for grand tourer racing cars.
With the win of Audi R8 LMS (GT3) driven by Jules Gounon, Christopher Haase and Markus Winkelhock, the Ingolstadt-headquartered carmaker has now amassed 44 points in the manufacturers’ standings, while Haase leads the drivers’ standings. Meanwhile, British premium auto marque Bentley took second place at Spa, courtesy of the No. 8 Continental GT3 helmed by Maxime Soulet, Andy Soucek, and Vince Abril. The team strictly ran a daring pre-determined race strategy to finish strong despite doubts about the tactic.
As for the Audi, the winning R8 LMS car was the same that captured this year’s Nürburgring 24 Hours race crown. This is a testament to the vehicle’s engineering and durability. After a grueling 546 laps around Belgium’s historic Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, the Audi R8 LMS had covered an incredible 3,824.184 kilometers — surpassing the distance of the winners of the previous three years. This year’s edition lasted for 24 hours and 51.980 seconds, with the victors averaging 159.245 ph (including the time the car was stationary in the pits).
Said Fred Thalamy, team director of the winning Audi Sport Team Saintéloc: “This victory is incredible. For us, it’s like Christmas in July! You just can’t describe this feeling. The race was a dream. The car was perfect and incredibly reliable. We didn’t have the slightest problem.”
More than half of the R8’s components are shared by the road version Audi R8 V10 Plus. “This is further proof that Audi is born on the track, and built for the road,” said Audi Philippines head Benedicto Coyiuto. “Our customers can thus see how their road-use cars benefit from our proven excellence on the track. Endurance races are especially taxing on vehicles, so we relish these victories as singularly important, and compelling, testaments to the Audi quality.”
The remaining rounds of the International GT Challenge will be staged at Laguna Seca (California, United States) in October and Sepang (Malaysia) in December.
The Audi Group and its brands (which include Lamborghini), is one of the most successful manufacturers in the premium segment. It is present in more than 100 markets worldwide and produces at 16 locations in 12 countries.