DETROIT (May 28, 2015) – Paul Miller Racing, and team drivers Christopher Haase and Dion von Moltke, come into Saturday’s Sports Car Classic at Belle Isle leading the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) point standings and seeking repeat podium finishes at both Detroit and in the 2015 racing season in the No. 48 Castrol EDGE Audi R8 LMS.
Round four of 10 on the 2015 IMSA TUDOR Championship GTD schedule, the Sports Car Classic can be seen live on FOX Sports 2 and IMSA.com this Saturday, May 30, at 12 p.m. EDT. An immediate encore telecast airs two hours later on Saturday at 2 p.m. EDT on FOX Sports 1.
One race ago and earlier this month at Laguna Seca, Haase and von Moltke co-drove to a second-place finish to take the GTD class championship lead after the first three rounds of the season. Last year at Detroit, Haase and then co-driver, Bryce Miller, finished third on the tricky Belle Isle street circuit.
A win in Saturday’s 100-minute sprint – the shortest race on the 2015 schedule – will not only be the first this year for Haase and von Moltke but would also ensure that the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing team will leave the Motor City still on top of the championship standings.
“The advantage is that leading gives the whole team maybe an extra push to work even harder still,” said Haase, who is in his second season with Paul Miller Racing. “There are no disadvantages, but at the end we just should focus on our race, not about the championship standings.”
Haase drove the No. 48 to the finish in last year’s third-place showing at Belle Isle, but his first-year teammate von Moltke has also made his mark in an Audi at Belle Isle. In 2012 at Detroit, von Moltke was the first driver to a lead a race in the United States at the wheel of an Audi R8 LMS.
“It was a very special moment to lead the first laps for the Audi R8 in the U.S.,” von Moltke said, “although we didn’t lead enough! The car was very good over the bumps and that played into our hands well that year. This year I don’t know how bumpy it will be, but the car gives you a lot of confidence as a driver, which is vital on a street circuit. Hopefully we can lead some more laps this weekend, but more importantly lead the last lap.”
Paul Miller Racing is off to the most successful start of any GTD team this year. The Laguna Seca runner-up, a repeat podium in its own right after a second-place finish in the same race in 2014 – followed a pair of fifth-place finishes in the season-opening races at Daytona and Sebring earlier this year.
No other GTD team has finished in the top five in each of 2015’s first three races. The No. 48 Paul Miller Racing team also closed out last season with a victory in the Petit Le Mans finale at Road Atlanta.
“We are a great team, and we know how to win,” Haase said. You never know what will happen on race weekend but leading the standings doesn’t change how we will approach the race at all!”
Detroit is the first of 2015’s final seven races that will decide this year’s IMSA TUDOR Championships. While the No. 48 team and drivers are happy for their fast start, everyone on the Paul Miller Racing team realizes the season has yet to fully play out.
“It’s always very nice to be in the points lead but, in all honesty, until after the checkered flag at the end of the season it means absolutely nothing,” von Moltke said. “We may get a slightly better spot on pit lane, but no one races you different or hands you anything. You have to push just as hard to try and win races and achieve good finishes, and that’s where our entire team is focused.”
The Audi R8 LMS seemed to perform well on the 13-turn, 2.360-mile Belle Isle course last year, Paul Miller Racing’s first season with Audi.
“So far, Detroit looks like a good track for the Audi, but each year can change things,” Haase said. “You need predictable car balance and a good position in qualifying at Detroit, and you have to stay calm in any case.”
Heading into Saturday’s race, Haase and von Moltke are one point clear of the co-drivers of the second-place Ferrari team, 87 – 86. The co-drivers of the third-place Porsche have 83 points.
The No. 48 ranks second in the IMSA TUDOR GTD team championship standings, trailing the leading No. 93 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper, which is not competing at Belle Isle, by two points.
A two-day event, Friday’s schedule includes two practice sessions before that afternoon’s qualifying, which can be seen live on IMSA.com at 5:10 p.m. EDT. Race-day Saturday begins with a 20 minute warm-up with the Sports Car Classic scheduled to green at 12:05 p.m. EDT.
– Recent improvements to the Belle Isle track have von Moltke even more optimistic than usual about the No. 48 Audi and Paul Miller Racing’s key personnel. “Detroit is a very tricky and technical street circuit,” von Moltke said. “In years past, it was so bumpy that it could make Sebring look like a smooth, European street circuit. The track has been repaved this year which will really change setups for engineers and driver line potentially. You really need a car with good mechanical grip to do well on a street circuit, Audi has given us a car that has that, and we have the best engineer in the paddock to maximize our package in Dave Fullerton.”