Mission Championship Defense Launched – Eastalent Racing Barely Misses Podium

30. April 2024 Zurück zur Artikelübersicht »

Portimao/Portugal: After months of waiting, the international GT Open launched its 2024 season from April 26th to 28th at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve. After clinching the title last year, the team from Austria, led by team manager Peter Reicher, embarked on the mission of defending their title with their number one Audi R8 LMS evo II. Once again, this year’s lineup includes Christopher Haase and Simon Reicher.

Peter Reicher commented: “We are aware that as the GT Open champions of the 2023 season, we are being hunted down this year. Everyone wants to beat the number one car. Everyone wants to show that they are better than us. Additionally, the level of competition has increased this season, with more teams and stronger drivers on the grid. This makes our job even harder. We’ve spent a lot of time identifying our mistakes, which was evident until Saturday. At the end of the day, we had to admit that the three competitor Mercedes cars were just too strong and claimed the podium for themselves. We feel that the Balance of Performance (BoP) set by the organizer is not yet balanced enough.”

Saturday’s race was dominated by challenging weather conditions, with rain constantly causing tricky situations. Simon Reicher placed the Eastalent Racing Audi R8 LMS evo II in 17th position on Saturday. In the race, Simon and Christopher showcased a remarkable comeback, finishing in 10th place. Sunday, on the other hand, was characterized by some sunny weather. Audi Sport driver Christopher Haase qualified in fourth place. In the race, both pilots delivered a strong performance, only conceding to the three Mercedes vehicles. Two yellow flag phases and the race ending behind the safety car prevented an optimal result for the team.

Simon Reicher remarked: “Compared to the previous season, we’ve lost some of our ease. Arriving as champions of the series is quite a big deal. We had hoped for a strong start to the season. I think we’ve done reasonably well with tenth and fourth position. However, our competitors dictated the pace and we could only try to react to it. This year, the championship has become even stronger. Many good drivers have joined. It will get more challenging from race to race as our competitors also improve. We have room for improvement. Otherwise, defending the championship will be difficult.”

“To highlight some positive aspects first, we earned important championship points in both races. Starting the season like this is good. Our weaknesses from last year have followed us into the new season. We need to analyze this critically and make progress. We did consistently improve throughout this entire weekend and can build on that. Everything is possible,” reports Audi Sport driver Christopher Haase.

For the Austrians, the next stop is in two weeks at the Hockenheimring in Germany, taking place May 10–12, 2024.