Laurens Vanthoor, Christopher Haase and Robin Frijns have won the Sepang 12 Hours for Audi Sport Team Phoenix. The win capped a memorable day for the team at the Malaysian endurance race with their other entry, piloted by Rene Rast, Markus Winkelhock and Pierre Kaffer, climbing the podium in third.
The victory also secured the Intercontinental GT Challenge drivers’ classification title for Laurens Vanthoor as well as the manufacturers’ championship for Audi. The three-race, global GT3 championship includes the Bathurst 12 Hours, the 24 Hours of Spa and the season finale in Asia – the Sepang 12 Hours.
“Winning the Sepang 12 Hours has closed out a fine season for Audi in Asia,” said Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “The performance of the Audi R8 LMS today in very tricky driving conditions was a compliment to the concept of the car.”
The race did not start as planned for the eventual winners in Sepang. Despite initially qualifying in sixth, the number 15 Audi Sport Team Phoenix car had to start the race from last place after the team discovered a technical problem with the car just before the race began. The car was fixed in time to start the race, but had to do so from the pit lane after missing the grid entry deadline ahead of the rolling start. Unperturbed, the team charged through the field, making up 20 positions in the first hour and a half.
The number 16 Audi R8 LMS of Rast, Winkelhock and Kaffer was just one place ahead at that stage, in fourth, as battles raged throughout the field.
A burst of rain was then to change the course of the race, with the Audi Sport Team Phoenix cars emerging from the clouds of spray in first and second place just past the five-hour mark. With car number 15 in the lead, the teams set about opening a large gap between themselves and the chasing pack.
Vanthoor, Haase and Frijns never looked back, taking the chequered flag after their 305th lap – one more than the second place car. A memorable 1-2 finish was denied Audi Sport Team Phoenix by the introduction of a safety car with only two hours remaining, due to the heavy rain. The 40-second gap that had been built up by Rast, Winkelhock and Kaffer ahead of the third place car was reduced to nothing as the field bunched up, with the all-German team losing the position soon after the restart.
Continuing the impressive performance of the Audi R8 LMS in the world’s most prestigious endurance races, the B-Quik Racing team of Henk Kiks, Peter Kox and 2016 Audi R8 LMS Cup Masters Cup champion, Daniel Bilski, won the GTC class. The team overcame an early puncture, challenging rain storms and intense humidity to close out the season in style.