034Motorsport/Rotek Racing Audi TT RS Wins the 25 Hours of Thunderhill 2013!
The 034Motorsport/Rotek Racing Audi Sport Customer Racing TT RS VLN celebrated a decisive victory at the eleventh running of the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill on Sunday, December 8th! "We are thrilled to be a part of the winning effort for such an unbelievable victory, this win represents the culmination 3 years running this event as well as decades of motorsport experience, made even more rewarding considering the high level of participation in this race." - Javad Shadzi, President, 034Motorsport. The #24 Audi TT RS was driven by Robb Holland, Roland Pritzker, Jeff Altenburg, Rob Huff and Kevin Gleason, backed by a joint American/German crew from 034Motorsport and Rotek Racing. The win did not come without its fair share of ups and downs both leading up to and during the race, but the 034Motorsport/Rotek Racing team persevered through the challenges to achieve overall victory. During Thursday’s testing session, the TT RS was turning impressive lap times, consistently staying in the 1:43 range with 2012 WTCC Champion Rob Huff behind the wheel. However, the car ran into electrical problems a few hours into the session. These issues were quickly narrowed down to the vehicle’s Engine Control Unit (ECU) which was removed and disassembled for diagnosis. The team did not have a spare ECU from Audi Sport, so the damaged unit would have to be repaired in order for the team to have any hope of competing on Saturday. “The ECU in the vehicle came loose during testing, subjecting it to severe vibration and causing physical damage to its components. It was brought back to the 034Motorsport facility, where the damaged components were identified and replaced as necessary using a donor ECU that we were lucky enough to have access to,” explained Nate Stuart, 034Motorsport’s Lead Engineer. The painstaking repair process went through Thursday night into the early hours of Friday morning. Once repaired, the ECU was rushed back to Thunderhill, where it was discovered that some additional work was needed, and causing 034Motorsport/Rotek Racing to miss all of Friday’s testing session. The finishing touches were completed on the ECU with just minutes left to make the evening qualifying session. “After the ECU failure, the team did not know what to expect. The damage was extensive… We honestly weren't sure that the car would be racing at all, let alone making it to qualifying,” said Christian Miller, Team Manager from 034Motorsport. The 034Motorsport/Rotek Racing Audi TT RS qualified 9th overall with a lap time of 1:49.152, despite using the qualifying session to give seat time to the rest of the team’s drivers. Rob Huff started the race at 11:00 AM Saturday morning and quickly moved through the field, setting a best lap time of 1:45.491 and moving the TT RS from 9th to 1st during the first hours of the race. The 034Motorsport/Rotek Racing TT RS moved between second and third position during the next few hours of the race, facing stiff competition from the #03 Superlite SLC and #52 Wolf GB08S. At approximately 5:00 PM 034Motorsport/Rotek Racing Audi TT RS made contact with a Honda Fit that cut in on the faster ES car during a turn, spinning the Honda Fit off track and damaging a canard on the Audi TT RS. The #09 Lexus ISF from Lexus USA also made contact with the right rear corner of the 034Motorsport/Rotek Racing Audi TT RS later in the night, forcing a longer-than-usual pit stop for the team as the crew checked for and repaired damage. After both incidents, the car went back on track quickly, and continued to perform consistently. Early Sunday morning with 8 hours remaining, the ESR-class Wolf GB08S dropped back with mechanical issues, and the 034Motorsport/Rotek Racing Audi TT RS moved into P2, with the P1 Superlite SLC within reach. Less than an hour later, the 034Motorsport/Rotek Racing team was forced to pit during a long yellow, resulting in a 3 minute penalty for the team. At the same time that the 034Motorsport/Rotek Racing Audi TT RS went into the pits, the #03 Superlite SLC dropped out of the race with steering issues, and 034Motorsport/Rotek Racing moved into the lead. The #52 Wolf GB08S was also back out on track, and pushing hard to make up the 16 lap gap between it and the 034Motorsport/Rotek Racing Audi TT RS. “At around 5:00 AM, we were in the lead with a 16 lap advantage, but still potentially within grasp of the Wolf prototype in 2nd,” explained Laszlo Tallai from 034Motorsport. The #52 Wolf GB08S retired due to engine failure just before sunrise, leaving the 034Motorsport/Rotek Racing Audi TT RS in the lead with a comfortable 24 lap cushion between it and the #83 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup. Drivers Kevin Gleas
on and Robb Holland maintained a consistent pace in the 034Motorsport/Rotek Racing Audi TT RS, eventually stretching the lead to over 30 laps. Meanwhile, a fierce battle for second was developing for 2nd place between the #08 Audi R8 LMS from GMG Racing, and the #83 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup from Barrett Racing. James Sofronas was behind the wheel of the Audi R8 LMS, setting back-to-back lap records in an attempt to catch the Porsche. Gaining upwards of 6 seconds per lap on the Porsche, the GMG Audi R8 LMS moved into P2 with less than an hour left in the race. It was looking like the 25 Hours of Thunderhill would end with an Audi 1-2 finish, but the GMG Audi R8 LMS was forced to retire with a transmission failure, ending up 4th overall. In the final hours of the race, Rob Huff extended the lead of the 034Motorsport/Rotek Racing Audi TT RS to 38 laps, taking the checkered flag at the end of his double stint. This marked the first Audi victory at the NASA/USAF 25 Hours of Thunderhill, as well as the first FWD victory at the event. Following the 034Motorsport/Rotek Racing Audi TT RS to fill out the overall podium was the #83 Barrett Racing Porsche 997 GT3 Cup in second and the # 38 Radical West Radical SR3 in third. "It was a blast today racing here this weekend," Roland Pritzker, Rotek Racing Driver & Owner said. "We had a couple of little issues with contact that took a couple of canards off in the front in the middle of the night, but we replaced them and kept going. It was smooth sailing. Really we didn't have any big issues. We kept it on the track and out of the pits and all of the drivers ran nice and clean laps. My stints in the car were really fun, I just had a blast driving this Audi TT RS here at Thunderhill."