Victory at Sebring
Maiden victory for Team Rutronik Racing at the famed Sebring 24 Hour race.
The mighty Audi R8 LMS GT3 wracks up another endurance win, showing a clean pair of heels in trying conditions at the famed Florida circuit.
23 November, 2021
Weather conditions worsened until race officials were forced to call a break at the three-quarter mark
A lot can happen in 24 hours, and in 24 hours of racing, even the smallest incident seems to be amplified. The Sebring 24 Hour race for 2021 was no exception – a famous racetrack that always serves up plenty of drama and excitement for participants alike.
This year, the major culprit was the weather, conditions becoming so challenging that cars were at one point reduced to travelling at barely 60km/h to avoid aquaplaning in vast lakes of water that covered the track in parts.
The race started well for the Team Rutronik Racing and their Audi R8 LMS. Driven by privateers Michael Doppelmayr, Elia Erhart, Swen Herberger and Audi Sport legend Markus Winkelhock, the team nailed down pole position in qualifying and led from the outset.
The teams duel with the Herberth Motorsport Porsche was a highlight of the race, but the weather continued to play and more and more important role until the three quarter mark of the race when, with the Porsche in the lead, officials had no alternative but to red flag the race.
The subsequent break lasted over an hour until the rain stopped, and then race officials dispatched a fleet of dryer trucks to improve the condition of the track before racing was resumed for the final four hours.
Soon after the resumption, the #18 Audi retook the lead and was never bested in the remainder of the race. Conditions threatened to deteriorate again at the 22 hour mark, but the heavy rain held off and the Audi team crossed the line one minute and 44 seconds ahead of the Porsche after a total of 559 laps for their first endurance victory.
The result saw Rutronik Racing finish second in the GT3-Am ranks, with Michael Doppelmayr and Swen Herberger third in the GT3-Am drivers standings.
For seasoned Audi Sport driver Markus Winkelhock, the victory was the sixth 24-hour overall victory of his racing career after three wins at the Nürburgring and two at Spa. For the Audi R8 LMS GT3, the Sebring win marked the 14th 24 Hour victory since 2009, adding to the model’s tremendous international success. But the R8 was not the only Audi Sport model to achieve the top podium spot in the race, with the RS 3 LMS of Stéphane Perrin and teammates Mathieu Detry, Rik Breukers and Matthew Taskinen beating out a challenge from Volkswagen team Autorama Motorsport to win the TCR class of the race. In another compelling battle that saw the class lead seesaw back and forth through the race, the private’s Audi entry clinched the win with a one lap lead of their nearest competitor and achieved an outstanding eighth overall in the sports and touring car series.
For seasoned Audi Sport driver Markus Winkelhock, the victory was the sixth 24-hour overall victory of his racing career
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