Oryx Racing Gains Valuable Experience From Rolex 24 At Daytona Début
New Audi Sport “customer’ team creditably takes chequered flag after difficult twice-around-the-clock season-opener
Important data collected on Audi R8 GRAND-AM for remaining 13-races in US
Oryx Racing will use the near nine-week break before the second round of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series to evaluate important data collected from the team’s series debut and first race with the Audi R8 GRAND-AM at Daytona (US State of Florida) this weekend (28-29 January).
Having taken delivery of its Audi a little over a month ago and with less than 1,000-miles on the clock before the annual race began on Saturday afternoon (1530hr local), the 50th running of the Daytona 24 Hours was always going to be a steep learning curve.
Issues with the near standard clutch, unique to the GRAND-AM specification Audi R8 making its US race début, ultimately cost valuable time and the prospect of a top maiden U.S. result.
Ultimately the #74 Oryx Racing Audi R8 GRAND-AM of Steven Kane (GB), Humaid Al Masaood (UAE) and Saeed Al Mehairi (UAE) registered 32nd in GT having completed 432-laps but Oryx Racing can comfort itself from learning a great deal about the Audi, the “control” Continental tyres and GRAND-AM racing in general – all of which can be put to good affect for the remainder of the season.
Kane gave a glimpse of what the Audi, which has recorded 118 worldwide race wins and 13 championship titles since 2009, is capable of when the Ulsterman comfortably ran inside the GT class top-10 early on. In the closing stages on Sunday afternoon the Oryx R8, which set the faster race lap of the two Audi sports cars competing, was recording laps comparable with the top-six GT cars around the 3.56-mile, 12-turn speedway road course.
The Rolex 24 At Daytona marked the first race in the GRAND-AM Series for Oryx Racing – contesting its third-ever twice-around-the-clock race – which achieved a praiseworthy fourth in the 2011 American Le Mans Series’ LMP1 Team Championship.
The second round of the 14-race GRAND-AM series is staged at the Barber Motorsports Park at Birmingham (US State of Alabama) on 31 March and will see Team Principal Al Masaood and Kane piloting the Audi.
#74 – Audi R8 Grand Am: Qualified 15th (GT) 1m 50.312s (116.179mph) Kane. Race: 32nd (GT).
Steven Kane (GB). Age: 31. Born: Newtown nr Banbridge, N Ireland. Lives: Brixworth, N’thants, UK:
“To bring our brand new Audi home to the finish on our Daytona 24 Hour and GRAND-AM début is an achievement. We can be pleased with what we accomplished in what are very early days with our new GT project. Everything went well for 45mins in my opening stint until I had to pit after flat spotting a couple of tyres. I was trying to keep out of the way of some faster Daytona Prototypes which caused me to go off line and across the grass. I then thought I’d got a front left puncture but it was just [rubber] ‘pick up’. I was a couple of laps short of a scheduled fuel stop when a full course caution caused the pits to be closed and I ran out of fuel at ‘pit in’. I was towed to our garage where some fuel was added. Having been ‘held’ at pit exit for a long time, I rejoined the race for a lap before handing over to Humaid but the clutch felt it was ‘slipping’.”
Humaid Al Masaood (UAE). Age: 31. Born: Abu Dhabi, UAE. Lives: Abu Dhabi, UAE
“I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season. Bearing in mind the lack of testing we had with the Audi, I’m delighted with what we achieved – the R8 has masses of potential for the remainder of the season. I did just one, very slow lap after taking over from Steven on Saturday evening but the clutch was malfunctioning and I drove the car straight back to the garage. When I got out again almost three hours later the Audi felt it had a handling imbalance but it was just a case of not being used to the Continental tyres but we worked at it and everything came together.”
Saeed Al Mehairi (UAE). Age: 24. Born: Dubai, UAE. Lives: Dubai, UAE:
“It was a tough race and was an amazing all-round team effort. We overcame many problems. I had a ‘long’ brake pedal during my stint on Saturday evening but I quickly adapted to it. I was hit up the rear going in to Turn 3 causing slight rear fender and exhaust damage. We were still having a clutch issue so the team took out the gearbox again and inspected the clutch.”
Tom Maplethorpe (GB), Team Manager:
“We’ve learned a great deal about the R8 and ourselves as a team this weekend. The Audi is a proven package and with the help of Audi Sport and quattro GmbH we’ll be on the pace when we get to Birmingham. Doing this 24 hour race as a season-opener gives us the opportunity to address many issues that perhaps would not have surfaced in a ‘sprint’ event. Steven, Humaid and Saeed were near faultless on the track while the team did a fantastic job in taking the gearbox out on two occasions. There are many positives to take forward and we’re very excited about the remainder of the season.”
ORYX Racing is owned by UAE National Humaid Al Masaood and has its headquarters in Abu Dhabi (UAE) with its new for 2012 Grand-Am project based out of Dayton (US State of Ohio). The team’s development has been meteoric since its formation at the end of 2010. ORYX finished second (SP3) on its race début in the 2011 Dubai 24 Hours before contesting the European-based Speed Euroserie. In 2011, ORYX Dyson Racing finished fourth in the American Le Mans Series’ LMP1 Team Championship – Masaood & Kane finishing fifth in the Drivers’ standings. In 2012, ORYX Racing competes in the GT category of the North America-based 13-race GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.
Audi R8 Grand Am
V10 5.2-liter engine, 4 valves per cylinder, petrol direct injection, power 480hp, over 500Nm, emission control by two racing catalytic converters, rear-wheel-drive, sequential pneumatic activated 6-speed sport gearbox with shift-paddles, Audi Space Frame (ASF) made of aluminum with bolted steel roll-cage, carbon-fibre composite/aluminum bodywork, Continental radial tires. Minimum start weight 1,285kg. Developed by Audi Sport with cooperation from quattro GmbH. The Audi R8 LMS recorded 118 race wins and 13 championship titles around the world in just three years (2009-11).