Weekend ends on a high after overnight engine change for his Audi R8 LMS
March 25, 2013 (St. Petersburg, Fla.) â€“ In his own words, starting last in the GT field of the Pirelli World Challengeâ€™s second race of the weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg was â€˜sub-optimalâ€™ for Duncan Ende. After having the engine in his no. 24 STANDD / Merchant Services Audi R8 LMS expire during the first race of the weekend on Saturday, he would be forced to start last in the field â€“ by the rules â€“ due to the engine change for Sundayâ€™s race.
Past the halfway point in the first round of the weekend, Endeâ€™s Audi lost power due to the engine failure and he retired from the race. So with no points to show from the first race, scoring as many as possible â€“ while starting last â€“ was important for Endeâ€™s championship efforts.
â€œStarting off the weekend by losing the engine was definitely not what we wanted,â€ said Ende. â€œThe Audi R8 LMS is known for being bulletproof so it caught us all a little bit off guard. Thankfully with the help of Audi Sport the GMG Racing guys were able to have the car ready with a fresh engine for Sunday. Iâ€™m really thankful. They worked hard and I wanted to give them a good result.â€
Getting away well from the standing start, Ende passed several cars in the opening sequence of corners and survived side-to-side contact with another GT car that did minimal damage to his Audi. After an early caution, Ende was able to methodically pick off cars throughout the race to move up to seventh position.
While running competitive lap times, Endeâ€™s car began to suffer from a failure of its power steering system with a handful of laps remaining. Slowed as a result, Ende was able to hang on to his position over the final few laps to take the checkered flag in seventh position.
Although he was presented with the Sunoco Hard Charger of the race award after the race, Ende was actually the winner of the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race Award for his move around GMG Racing teammate Bret Curtis on lap ten.
â€œThe race went really well and Iâ€™m glad we got to see the checkered flag today,â€ said Ende. â€œWe had an idea of how the car would do over a long run after yesterday but when you do a big change like an engine things are a bit of an unknown. Our launch control still needs a bit of work but the car got away really well and I was able to pick up a few spots in the first corner. As the race went on the Audi got better and better and we moving up through the field, but by the time I got close to the leaders they were well up the road and we started to have the issues with the power steering. Strangely enough, my biggest battle of the day came with a GT car that was laps down but was pretty determined to keep our Audi behind.â€
â€œOne thing I definitely want to point out â€“ OZ makes really strong wheels. I got hit at the start which cracked one of my wheels pretty badly, and it held together for 34 laps.â€
The television broadcast of the St. Petersburg Sports Car Challenge presented by StopTech will air on NBC Sports on Sunday, April 7 at 12:30 PM ET. Both races can also be streamed on demand at www.world-challengetv.com.
The third round of the Pirelli World Challenge will be the Long Beach Grand Prix presented by Kia, held on April 19, 2013 on the famous street circuit in Long Beach, California.
For more about Duncan Ende, visit www.duncanende.com, or follow him on twitter at @duncanende.
To learn more:
Merchant Services, Ltd., visit www.merchantservicesltd.com
STANDD, visit www.standd.org, and follow them on twitter at @STANDD_626
Racerâ€™s Roast, visit www.racersroast.com
GMG Racing, visit www.gmgracing.com
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