SEBRING, Fla. (March 12, 2014) – Coming off a competitive showing in January’s season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS, and team drivers Bryce Miller, Christopher Haase and Matt Bell, head to Sebring International Raceway this weekend primed for another top performance in Saturday’s 12 Hours of Sebring.
The team’s debut with the proven Audi R8 LMS at Daytona saw Haase win the pole in his very first start with Paul Miller Racing. With Haase’s fellow German standout Rene Rast also joining the team alongside Miller and Bell, the No. 48 led the GT Daytona (GTD) field for the majority of the first half of the Rolex 24. Only early morning overheating issues knocked the team from winning contention but the No. 48 is once again expected to be among the pacesetters in this weekend’s 12-hour contest.
Audi has never won in GT at Sebring and Paul Miller Racing is looking for its first victory in the grueling half-day race as well.
“It would of course be a very big honor to give Audi its first GT win at Sebring but also for our team in our very first year campaigning the R8,” Bryce Miller said. “We have not won this race yet and it ranks at the top of the list for endurance sports car racing. Many teams will choose to bring their cars from around the world to compete in this race for a win. It also serves as the ultimate test for any package. The harsh nature in these track conditions is unlike anywhere else and tests the driver and car to its very limit. That would make a victory at Sebring unlike anywhere else in the world.”
Haase and Bell will each be making their Sebring race debuts after first testing at the track last month.
“The official test was my first time at Sebring last month and this track has a big tradition,” Haase said. “To win here would be something special and would rank high like the 24 hour Daytona or 24 hour of Nürburgring. It would be a pleasure for me set a hook on my winning list!”
Bell is from England and no relation to American sports car driver Matt Bell, but he is the younger brother of Rob Bell who is also racing in the 12 Hours of Sebring this weekend.
“Although the R8 LMS has never raced at Sebring, Audi has a rich and successful history at the 12 hour with several overall victories, so it would be fantastic to add to that,” Bell said. “Audi’s past success also means there will be some expectation to perform this year, but I like the extra pressure that comes with representing such a successful manufacturer.”
While his debuting teammates are more than up to the task, Bryce Miller – son of team owner Paul Miller – is a Sebring veteran. He was part of the team’s sixth-place GT finish last year at Sebring.
“Normally a 12-hour race would not be as hard as a 24 hour, but with the challenges presented at Sebring I would say yes for this particular event,” Bryce Miller said. “I am very much looking forward to this week. I have two strong co-drivers I am honored to be paired with an Audi R8 and the best team!”
Haase has won the 24 Hours of Nürburgring sports car race back home in Germany.
“Races are here for us to win and our goal is to be at the end of the race in first position,” Haase said. “For sure it would be a great honor for Audi as well for our Paul Miller Racing team if we would able to win, but it is a long way to go.”
Bell would reach a milestone in his young career with a victory on Saturday.
“Personally, a victory on Saturday would be the highlight of my career to date,” Bell said. “This is one of the biggest race events in the world, so I want a trophy from Sebring to sit in the center of my trophy cabinet!”
Race coverage begins with three hours of live coverage on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 10 a.m. EDT. At 1 p.m. EDT, coverage continues on www.IMSA.com until after the race finish at 10:30 p.m. EDT.
FOX Sports 1 also will televise a three-hour TUDOR Championship full race highlight show from Sebring beginning at 8:30 a.m. EDT on Sunday, March 16.
– Although Haase and Bell are making their Sebring race debuts, both have already taken enough laps to know the drill on the bumpy circuit. “One thing is sure, the bumps can hurt the car quite hard during the 12-hour race,” Haase said. “I think that mechanical wise it is harder, like some other 24-hour races. Anyway, as team you need different strategies in a sprint race, medium distance and long distance races.”
– Bell is well aware of the toll Sebring’s bumps and grinds can take. “The bumpy nature of the concrete track means it’s extremely tough on the car and physically challenging for the drivers,” Bell said. “A normal 12 hour race would be less challenging than the top 24 hour races, but Sebring is no ordinary 12 hour race! Add to that the usually summer-like temperatures and a busy grid of 66 cars and you’ve got the hardest race in the sports car world!”
About Paul Miller Racing: Paul Miller Racing is among the top GT teams competing in North American sports car road racing. In 2014, the team will contest the full GT Daytona (GTD) season in the new IMSA TUDOR SportsCar Championship in a new partnership with Audi Sport customer racing. Bryce Miller and Christopher Hasse will co-drive the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS. The racing team is affiliated with the Paul Miller Auto Group, which has operated Paul Miller Audi since 1976, races in support of Full Circle Home, and competes with the support of TOTAL Lubricants, Search Marketing Group and Motegi Racing.
Follow Paul Miller Racing on Twitter @paulmilleracing @bryceracer and become a Facebook fan at Facebook.com/paulmillerracing and Facebook.com/brycemiller.net.
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.
Visit www.audiusa.com or www.audiusanews.com for more information regarding Audi vehicle and business issues.