Audi nearly swept the GT class podium in the 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona, ending 1-2 with Alex Job Racing and APR Motorsport. In what’s looking like a stacked GT Daytona (GTD) class field already for 2014, the manufacturer announced potent lineups for all five of its R8s this time around in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season opener.
Flying Lizard Motorsports, which shifts to Audi after a long stint with Porsche, will field two R8s. Its two full-season American Le Mans Series pairings of 2013, Seth Neiman and Dion von Moltke (No. 35) and Spencer Pumpelly and Nelson Canache (No. 45), will anchor their two cars at Daytona. Additional drivers are Filipe Albuquerque and Alessandro Latif (No. 35) and Markus Winkelhock and Tim Pappas (No. 45).
Paul Miller Racing, Fall-Line Motorsports and GMG Racing will field an Audi apiece. Miller’s son Bryce leads the No. 48 car’s lineup alongside co-drivers Rene Rast, Christopher Haase and Matt Bell. Fall-Line has announced a pair of Charles – Espenlaub and Putman – for a full-season in its No. 46 R8, joined at Daytona by Brits Oliver Jarvis and James Walker. GMG features James Sofronas and Alex Welch, Audi drivers for the team in the Pirelli World Challenge, with Marc Basseng and Frank Stippler alongside in the No. 32.
“We competed at Daytona a year ago in order to highlight the qualities of the R8,” Romolo Liebchen, Head of Audi Sport customer racing, said in a release. “We achieved this perfectly after taking a one-two finish in the GT class. Since then, demand in the USA has risen sharply. We are delighted that four teams now rely on the Audi R8 LMS to begin the TUSCC – particularly as all four teams have a good reputation in the USA. We are intrigued to see how they will measure up at Daytona and in the other races.”
The GTD class is designed to feature a pro-am format, but all of these lineups have maximized their driver combinations with a balance of true pros, 2013 Silver-rated drivers who could be considered pros, and fast gentlemen drivers. That’s the key to success in modern endurance sports car racing; eliminating as many weak links as possible.