Last year’s winner Phoenix Racing finished the twelve-hour race at Bathurst, Australia in fourth place with the driver trio of Andreas Simonsen (S), Johan Kristoffersson (S) and Harold Primat (CH). The team held a podium rank for many hours with the R8 LMS ultra, before losing valuable time due to a technical defect. Despite a spirited recovery drive, the targeted podium place unfortunately slipped away.
“That was an incredibly entertaining race. A podium and even victory were possible for our team, but at the end of the day we narrowly missed finishing on the podium due to a defect,” said Phoenix Team Boss Ernst Moser. “In such circumstances we are by no means dissatisfied. Our three drivers, who drove for the first time on this challenging track, did a near perfect job. The two young Swedes, Andreas Simonsen and Johan Kristoffersson, impressively demonstrated their talent, and Harold Primat also settled into the GT car very well and improved constantly.”
The Audi R8 LMS ultra with start number one started the ‘Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour’ from seventh position (not from sixth because a competitor’s penalty was revoked). The race started on Sunday morning at seven o’clock local time. Soon after, the team from Meuspath at the Nürburgring fought up to third place, before moving up to second place later. Moser: “We were always on the lead lap, and due to various safety car phases were always within striking distance.” When the engine refused to start at a pit stop after about seven hours of racing, the ensuing starter motor change meant a loss of more than four laps, additional time was lost due to drive-through penalties. “After the repair, we did our utmost and reduced the gap. We were very quick in the rain towards the end of the race,” said Moser.
“We would love to have been on the podium, especially as it was possible. Even so, it was a fantastic race for me. Since I last drove the R8, the car has improved significantly. I had an enormous amount of confidence in the car, it was great to drive in all conditions, I could push every lap,” explained the 23-year old Swede Andreas Simonsen, who contested the ADAC GT Masters in 2011 with Phoenix, after the race in the land down under. “It was great fun together with Johan Kristoffersson and Harold Primat, and I’d love to contest more races with Phoenix Racing.”
It was the first endurance race and first start in the powerful 560 hp Audi R8 LMS ultra for his fellow countryman Johan Kristoffersson. “The team’s strategy was excellent, which repeatedly brought us forward and even after I’d made a mistake when overtaking and received a drive-through penalty,” said the 24-year old. “I felt particularly at home in the car during my last stint on slicks and then on the rain tyres. This race was a fantastic experience for me and I’ve learnt a great deal.”
For Harald Primat the positive impressions during this endurance classic at Bathurst, 200 kilometres west of Sydney, far outweighed any others. “What an exciting and challenging race, and a really fantastic performance by the entire team,” said the 37-year old Swiss, who is normally at home racing sport prototypes (LMP1). “Up to the middle of the race we were fighting for a podium finish and possibly even victory, before we had to change the starter motor. Phoenix really worked exceptionally well, and the strategy in particular was perfect at every moment.”
At the chequered flag in the evening at 19:00 local time, the #1 Phoenix Audi, after having completed 266 laps, was only two laps behind the victorious German Mercedes trio of Bernd Schneider/Thomas Jäger/Alexander Rohloff and just one lap behind the third podium place. Phoenix Team Boss Ernst Moser: “After winning last year and fourth place this year we also want to be here again in 2014. Bathurst is a wonderful race and well worth a visit.”