Ende Will Start World Challenge Season in Ninth in St. Petersburg
March 22, 2013 (St. Petersburg, Fla.) â€“ In his first event in the no. 24 GMG Audi R8 LMS, as well as his first day on the St. Petersburg, Florida street circuit, Duncan Ende qualified ninth for the first of two Pirelli World Challenge championship races this weekend.
Exchanging the Oreca FLM09 Prototype Challenge car that he co-drove to fourth in last weekendâ€™s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring for the Audi R8 LMS, Endeâ€™s best lap of a 1:16.230 on the temporary, 1.8 mile circuit was the second-quickest of the fleet of Audi R8s in the field and good for ninth in the GT class.
â€œThe first day on track was pretty fun,â€ said Ende. â€œThe Audi feels really good on this temporary track and I think we have some time left in it. We had so much traffic in our first two practice sessions we werenâ€™t able to put a representative time on the board until qualifying, and the track was really green and low-grip in the morning. So we just took a conservative approach and we have a good car for the race tomorrow. Some of the other cars may be better over a lap or two but at the end of a 50-minute race the Audi will be in great shape.â€
Although the series split the GT and GTS classes, traffic was still an issue during the 15-minute qualifying session on the circuit that provided limited passing opportunities. Traffic will be a theme not only in practice and qualifying, but in the pair of this weekendâ€™s World Challenge races.
â€œIt was nice to have a clear-ish track for qualifying,â€ said Ende. â€œIt was definitely a lot better than practice was. We were chasing a gremlin in the car but Iâ€™m sure the guys will get it sorted for the race. But we still had slower traffic to deal with â€“ I only had a couple of clear laps. I was on another flyer late in the session but I caught one of the Mercedes so I just came in early to save the tires for tomorrow. Dealing with traffic will be a big issue here, especially as soon as the GT cars start lapping the slower GTS cars. Itâ€™s something Iâ€™m used to from the American Le Mans Series, but no matter what things will always get super busy on a street circuit like St. Pete.â€
Race one will start on Saturday, March 23rd at 5:00 PM ET with the second race starting Sunday, March 24th at 10:25 ET. Both races will be shown live on world-challengetv.com.
For more about Duncan Ende, visit www.duncanende.com, or follow him on twitter at @duncanende.
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