Motorsport Newsletter – Audi teams victorious in Mexico City and Barcelona
Sunday, April 9, 2017

Formula E: Spectacular victory for Audi driver di Grassi in Mexico City
Blancpain GT Series: Title defense with strong Audi Sport customer racing teams
Mattias Ekström wins World RX season opener at Barcelona

Mexico City/Barcelona/Misano, April 6, 2017 – Audi factory driver Lucas di Grassi celebrated a spectacular victory at Formula E in Mexico City. Mattias Ekström was victorious at the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship opener at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and the Audi Sport customer racing teams are aiming to defend their title in the Blancpain GT Series.

Formula E: Spectacular victory for Audi driver di Grassi in Mexico City
Audi factory driver Lucas di Grassi reduces his deficit to championship leader Sébastien Buemi to five points following his first victory of the season in the fourth race of the Formula E season in Mexico City (Mexico). Team mate Daniel Abt scored points again after finishing seventh.
The fourth and only race of the season held on a permanent race track was the best advert for the purely electrically powered Formula racing series. Main man around the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City was Audi driver Lucas di Grassi. The Brazilian started from 15th on the grid, was an innocent victim in another competitor’s accident, had to pit after only two laps during the first safety car stage to change the rear wing which led to him dropping to last place at this stage. With an early pit stop on the 18th of 45 laps during the second safety car stage, the team took an immense risk. Di Grassi not only had to save plenty of energy in order to complete more than the normally planned half race distance, but he also had to hope that his pursuers lost time in many close wheel-to-wheel battles. The strategy paid off, after 45 laps di Grassi had an advantage of 1.966 seconds and the battery only two per cent energy remaining – which nevertheless sufficed for several celebratory donuts in front of the main grandstand.
For team mate Daniel Abt the race day started sensationally, the German claimed his second pole position in Formula E. However, he lost this again after tire pressures on his race car were found to be too low at scrutineering. Despite being penalized and moved to 18th on the grid, Abt produced a strong race, which was rewarded with six points for seventh place. In the team classification, ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport holds second place after four of the twelve races. Formula E continues on May 13 in Monaco.

Blancpain GT Series: Title defense with strong Audi customer teams
The Blancpain GT Series is the leading Europe-wide series for GT3 sports cars. Since 2011, the Audi teams have collected a total of six overall titles and sixteen class titles in this young series. Three Audi Sport customer racing teams will aim to win more trophies and titles this year.
For sprint or endurances races and for youngsters or established professionals: The Blancpain GT Series is an attractive platform in motorsport. Drivers and teams from up to eleven sports car manufacturers will face off against each other during the 2017 season. The calendar includes five races for the Sprint Cup, wherein two drivers share each car. The Endurance Cup sees three drivers behind the wheel of each car in the five races, one of which is the prestigious Spa 24 Hours in July. The endurance races, other than the event at Spa, will each be three hours in duration.
Last year, Enzo Ide won the won the Sprint Cup drivers’ title with Belgian Audi Club Team WRT.
The Belgian is returning to the series with the same team for his title defense this year. The team of Vincent Vosse will enter a total of five cars with a lineup of drivers that includes, among others, tree-time Le Mans winner Marcel Fässler and the former Blancpain champions Christopher Mies and Robin Frijns, as well as GT1 world champion, Markus Winkelhock. The Belgian team will be racing against, among others, the fellow Audi teams of Saintéloc Racing from France and I.S.R. from the Czech Republic. WRT and Saintéloc have been part of the Audi Sport customer racing family since 2010, and I.S.R. joined in 2014. Saintéloc driver Christopher Haase is a former Blancpain champion, while I.S.R. driver Frank Stippler has already won 24-hour races at the Nürburgring and Spa. WRT, Saintéloc and I.S.R. will also be representing the brand with the four rings in the Endurance Cup. For these races, Belgian Audi Club Team WRT has recruited, among others, the three-time Le Mans winner Benoît Tréluyer.
“The Blancpain GT Series is the most prestigious series in Europe. Worldwide, no other GT3 series has so many participants,” says Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “With up to eight Audi R8 LMS cars, our brand is very well represented. We are racing against many strong manufacturers, many of which are competitors to Audi in the sports car market. We are doing our utmost to continue our success story.”
The Sprint Cup started on April 1 to 2 at Misano (Italy) with Romain Monti and Christopher Haase finishing 5th at the wheel of the #26 Saintéloc Racing Audi. They were the most successful Audi team after reigning Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup champion Enzo Ide spun out during the first half of the race. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT driver Ide and co-driver Mies eventually finished in 11th.
The season will conclude with the Endurance Cup finale in Barcelona (Spain) on October 1.

FIA World Rallycross Championship: Dream start for Mattias Ekström
The 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship could not have been off to a better start from Audi and EKS’s point of view. The season opener at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya saw Mattias Ekström triumph. In the final, the reigning world champion relegated Timo Scheider (D) and Andreas Bakkerud (N) to positions two and three. This victory immediately puts Ekström back at top of the drivers’ standings. In the teams’ classification, team world champions EKS are in the top spot tied on points with Team PSRX Volkswagen Sweden.
The start to the season’s first race weekend had ups and downs in store for Ekström and his teammates, Toomas Heikkinen (FIN) and Reinis Nitišs (LV). “Saturday was incredibly difficult,” says Ekström. “The weather situation kept changing – sun, rain, sun, rain ... In rallycross with its many single races, that’s extremely complicated – at one time you have an advantage and others a disadvantage.” Ekström caught a rain shower in his second race and at the end of day one was only in position eleven of the overall classification. Heikkinen had better luck. The Finn did the best job of coping with the changeable conditions and was leading after day one.
On Sunday, the prerequisites changed. In bright sunshine and on a dry track, Ekström was able to fully use the strengths of his 560-HP Audi S1 EKS RX quattro and at the end of the four qualifying sessions was trailing Timo Scheider in second place. For the semi-finals of the twelve best drivers, Heikkinen (P7) and Nitišs (P10) qualified as well. However, both EKS campaigners were eliminated in the penultimate session. Ekström on the other hand dominated the action, took the top spot after having started from pole position and in the final prevailed with a lights to- flag victory as well. “All in all, it was a terrific weekend,” says Ekström. “I won at Barcelona in 2016, and now I did it again. My whole team did a fantastic job and we scored important points for both classifications.”
EKS will be traveling from Barcelona some 1,000 kilometers to Montalegre in Portugal to prepare for round 2 of the World Rallycross Championship on April 21–23.