Wolf-Power Racing is hoping for a strong end to its 2022 24H SERIES season in Kuwait after losing a potential TCE win at the recent Hankook 24H BARCELONA to gearbox failure. The onset of which manifested itself two hours before retirement according to team driver Jasmin Preisig.
Words – James Gent
Images – Petr Frýba / jasminpreisig.ch
Defending 24H SERIES TCE Ladies Cup winner Jasmin Preisig has stated that her recent run at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA with Wolf-Power Racing “went like clockwork” until terminal gearbox failure eliminated the German team from near-certain victory.
Writing on her personal website, Jasmin, a brand ambassador for Volkswagen importer AMAG in Switzerland, explains that recurrent issues related to the gearbox on the Audi RS 3 LMS brought the team’s charge to victory to a premature close after 17 hours. Despite a seemingly flawless run, the effects had been felt earlier in the race.
“After 16 hours, we were two laps ahead of 2nd-placed BBR and were mostly the fastest TCR on the track,” Jasmin writes. “But unfortunately it didn’t remain so perfect: the gearbox just didn't want to hold out...
“It started a few hours earlier when we noticed a constant ‘loss of performance.’ But it wasn't so extreme that we had to interrupt the race. Unfortunately, after about 17 hours, the time had come and we had full gearbox failure.”
Wolf-Power Racing, which went into the Hankook 24H BARCELONA still mathematically in contention for the TCR Teams’ European Championship, made a good start to the event by taking outright TCE pole position for the first time in 2022. This, despite difficulties during Free Practice.
“We tested all through Thursday across countless kilometres,” Jasmin continues. “But somehow we weren't entirely happy with the setup – we couldn’t really ‘warm up’ with the Audi. Then, on Friday afternoon, everything just fell into place for qualifying!”
In a nod to the standout performance that followed, Rob Huff, back for his second start of the season with Wolf-Power Racing, was the only driver during TCE qualifying to dip into the 1m 47s range. Momentum the 2012 World Touring Car Champion carried into his first stint by opening up a one-lap lead over nearest rival BBR during the opening hour.
Though Code 60-affected alternate pit strategies meant the #116 Audi occasionally dropped behind BBR’s #158 CUPRA Leon Competición TCR during the first half of the event, Wolf-Power Racing had already pulled two laps clear as the event approached three-quarter distance.
Vibrations during Huff’s final stint though caused the RS 3 to lose almost 20 minutes in the garage to repairs, dropping the team back to 5th in-class when Ivar Vallers brought the Audi back to the track. An intermittent loss of power over the following two hours though meant Jasmin was forced to bring Wolf Power’s Audi back to the garage for good with barely five hours of the race left to run, the issue proving too complex to fix in the time that remained.
“After a short discussion, we decided to leave the car. A gearbox change was not really possible, and also made no sense considering the remaining distance.”
Despite a disappointing end to the Hankook 24H BARCELONA, Wolf-Power Racing has now refocused its efforts on the TCE Championship of the Continents, which will be decided at the Hankook 12H KUWAIT on 30 November to 2 December. The German team lies eight points adrift of 2nd-placed AC Motorsport – which is also eying a title win in its last race with the first-generation Audi – and a further six behind current standings leader, BBR.
Wolf-Power Racing has already registered Jasmin Preisig and Ivars Vallers for the season finale.