ALTON, Virginia (August 20, 2015) – Paul Miller Racing and team co-drivers Christopher Haase and Dion von Moltke are determined to return to podium form in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Castrol EDGE Audi R8 LMS at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) this Sunday in the Oak Tree Grand Prix.
Round 8 of 10 GT Daytona (GTD) division races on the 2015 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule, the Oak Tree Grand Prix is an all-GT event for the GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GTD divisions. The race can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 this Sunday, August 23 at 1 p.m. EDT.
After fifth-place finishes in the season-opening endurance races at Daytona and Sebring, Haase and first-year Paul Miller Racing teammate von Moltke combined for three-straight podium finishes in the following trio of races. The top-three run included a season-best second at Laguna Seca in May and back-to-back third-place showings at Detroit and Watkins Glen in June.
The second half of the year moved off to a more challenging start – Haase was knocked out of the race while leading at Lime Rock Park, and he and von Moltke finished sixth one race ago at Road America – but the entire Paul Miller Racing team is focused on a better finish at VIR.
“Our engineers at Paul Miller Racing will give us a really well handling Audi R8 LMS and hopefully this will allow us to battle for the win,” von Moltke said. “It seems that we struggle a bit on one lap pace, but our race pace has been quite good. No doubt, our team has been working flat out and, with them behind us, we have a chance to do well.”
The all-GT format of the Oak Tree Grand Prix is a familiar and favorite format for Haase and von Moltke, but drivers still have to take into account the nuances of multi-class racing.
“If only GT cars are racing, it feels bit more familiar on track for everyone,” Haase said. “This type of format would be my first choice but, on the other hand, it doesn’t really matter against which class you race. The speed difference is always there, which can produce tricky situations all of the time.”
Von Moltke realized last year that having only two classes of similar GT machines competing together doesn’t guarantee a traffic-free race.
“It’s going to be great to have another year of a GT showcase,” von Moltke said. “Fans can really relate to our GT-style cars, and for them to be highlighted is special. No doubt, there is going to be some great, close and hard racing. Last year, traffic wise, it was actually the toughest race for me.”
Haase and the fulltime teammate, Bryce Miller, finished fourth in the No. 48 last year at VIR.
“It looks like a track which may be a good fit for the Audi R8, but last year all of the GTD cars were quite close there,” Haase said. “We will have a good base on setup to start with and then we just have to adjust the car for track and weather situation.”
Von Moltke raced an Audi R8 LMS last year at VIR for another team.
“Last year, late in the race, we were actually poised for potentially our best finish of the year before car issues really hurt us,” von Moltke said. “VIR is a very technical and difficult track and I believe drivers will make more of a difference here than on almost any other track. VIR is one of those ‘driver’ tracks that we speak about. It’s straight up old school. Up and down hill, fast and slow corners, curbs to hit or not hit. It is extremely challenging to get a good lap time, and each weekend it takes a driver a few laps to feel up to speed around here.”
A three-day event, the IMSA TUDOR Championship schedule begins with a pair of one-hour Friday practice sessions at 11:45 a.m. and 4 p.m. EDT. Saturday’s schedule includes a final one-hour practice at 9:55 a.m. before GTD qualifying that afternoon from 4:40 – 4:55 p.m. EDT, which will be streamed live on IMSA.com and the IMSA mobile app. Race-day on Sunday begins with a 20-minute warm-up at 8:35 a.m. with the green flag for the start of the Oak Tree Grand Prix scheduled to fly at 1:05 p.m. EDT.
– Another unique aspect of Sunday’s all-GT race is the rare chance for teams to score an overall victory. “With the championship closing down, people are fighting harder than ever,” von Moltke said. “You have to include in there a chance for teams to score a rare overall win, which will make some GTLM drivers more aggressive than ever.”
– Haase is a fan of the 17-turn, 3.27-mile VIR circuit. “VIR is a great track and all the corners are very challenging,” Haase said. “This one is close among my favorites.”
– The Oak Tree Grand Prix begins a critical three-race stretch-run to the IMSA TUDOR Championships. Heading into VIR, the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Castrol EDGE Audi R8 LMS, and Haase and von Moltke, are second in both the GTD team and driver point standings with 197 points. They trail the leading team and driver by just two points.
About Audi of America and the Audi R8 LMS: Audi began a new chapter in 2009 with the introduction of the Audi Sport customer racing program. For the first time it was possible for motorsport customers to acquire a race car designed for customer racing events. Since its inception, the success of the R8 LMS has been significant throughout the GT3 racing format worldwide, including victory in the GT class in the 2013 edition of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The Audi R8 LMS shares more than 50% of its parts with the Audi R8 street car including the naturally aspirated V10 5.2 Liter engine, the Audi Space Frame and a variety of other components.
Audi of America, Inc. and its U.S. dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury vehicles. AUDI AG is among the most successful luxury automotive brands globally. Audi was a top-performing luxury brand in Europe during 2012, and broke all-time company sales records in the U.S. Through 2016, AUDI AG will invest about $17 billion on new products and technologies.
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