On its first start in the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook in three years, the Lestrup Racing Team secures a TCE podium with its new Audi RS 3 LMS at the 2022 Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING.
Words - James Gent
Images - Petr Frýba
Frederik Lestrup has celebrated “a rewarding start to the season” for his eponymous team’s new Audi RS 3 LMS, which secured TCE pole position and a division podium at this past weekend’s Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING.
The Lestrup Racing Team, which entered its first 24H SERIES event since the 2020 Hankook 24H DUBAI in Hockenheim, secured 3rd and 4th overall in the TCE division, the new Audi RS 3 LMS leading home its tenured sister entry, the Volkswagen Golf GTI. In doing so, the Swedish team secured its fifth category podium with CREVENTIC since its debut in 2017.
“This was a rewarding start to the season and a very valuable preparation for our 2022 STCC title push,” Lestrup Racing Team co-founder Frederik explains. “We had some hiccups along the way this weekend, but that is to expect with a brand new car. But out drivers performed really well and we got really good race data that’s hard to recreate during regular pre-season test sessions.”
A fastest lap from Emil Sällberg in Q1, plus the second-quickest laps by Marcus Fluch and Oliver Söderström of their respective 15-minute qualifying sessions, meant the Audi took overall TCE pole position by more than four-tenths over fellow front row starter, BBR. Though Andreas Bäckman initially lost the lead to a rapid-starting BBR, the #120 Audi remained well within striking distance during the opening stages, even retaking the lead heading into the second hour. Code 60-related pit stop shuffles meant that, come the end of ‘part one’ of the Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING, Lestrup’s #120 Audi RS 3 LMS was still TCE leader BBR’s closest rival, just one lap adrift heading into the event’s overnight intervention.
Issues getting the Audi re-fired before Sunday’s restart – referred to only as “technical issues” in the team’s post-race update – meant that, by the time the RS 3 finally made its way on to the track, Söderström, Bäckman, Fluch and Sällberg had fallen back down the order to 4th in TCE, a further five laps behind. Metronomic running thereafter though meant the Audi was ideally placed to take 3rd in TCE when TCX leader Xwift Racing suffered gearbox issues just two hours from home. The #120 Lestup Racing Audi would eventually follow BBR and Holmgaard Motorsport home to secure the final spot on the TCE podium at the Hockenheimring.
“It was great to start the season with a podium and to properly get to know the new Aud,” explains Oliver Söderström. “We lost about 20 minutes in the pits due to an issue, so I think everyone can be pleased with the result. Now we are going to reload and get ready for the STCC [Scandinavian Touring Car Championship] opener at Ljungbyhed.”
“I’m really glad to be a part of this result in my first-ever race weekend with the team,” Andreas Bäckman continues. “It was a really valuable weekend for me to get to know the car with plenty of kilometres. Everything didn’t go our way during the race, but this was a proper rehearsal of what is to come this year in the STCC.”
Unfortunately timed Code 60s during both Q1 and Q2 meant neither Peter Fahlström nor Christian Axelsson could set a fast lap during their respective sessions, the #110 Volkswagen consequently forced to line up at the back of the grid. Further woes would follow just 30 minutes into the race when, during Mats Olsson’s stint, the VW made contact with the Vortex V8. A clean run thereafter though, niggling brake issues aside, meant Fahlström, Axelsson, Olsson and Stefan Nilsson were able to score a combative 4th overall in TCE on the Volkswagen Golf’s return to the 24H SERIES.
Alongside its TCR Scandinavia commitments this year, the Lestrup Racing Team has also registered an interest in a second 24H SERIES outing this year at the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO on 9-10-11 July.