Multiple Irish Motor Racing champion Erik Holstein made a sensational Endurance Racing debut on the world stage this weekend, when he won the TCR section of the “24 Hour Dubai” driving an Audi RS3 LMS.
The 2016 SEAT Supercup Ireland Champion was offered a drive in the prestigious event by CadSpeed Atec, who were debuting the brand new Audi RS3 LMS at the event.
With support from Audi Wexford, Holstein flew to Dubai last Wednesday to meet his team and see the car, which had only been delivered from the factory days before, for the first time.
Despite minimal running Erik and team managed to qualify for the 24 hour race in third place and were happy that there was plenty more performance to come from the car in the race. Erik’s three team mates were the hugely experienced pairing of Julian Griffin and James Kaye, as well as 16 year old single seater driver Finlay Hutchinson. With Kaye having successfully completed the tricky opening stint, the car was comfortably running in second in TCR.
During Erik’s first stint, he hauled in the class leader, took the lead and eased away comfortably- an incredible performance considering both car and circuit were new to him. From then onwards, the Audi pulled away from the opposition. Everything then went to plan until 3 hours from the end, when some debris got into the engine bay and destroyed an auxiliary belt on the engine. The power steering went as a result but luckily Erik had already done 90% of his stint so his pit stop was due anyway. The Atech team repaired it quickly and having increased their lead so much at this stage, dropping 10 laps didn’t even cost them the lead. At the chequered flag the elated team still enjoyed a two lap advantage over their nearest competitor, ensuring that both Holstein and the Audi S3 LMS became winners on their respective 24 Hour debuts!
Erik Holstein. SEAT Supercup Champion and TCR Winner, Dubai 24 Hour:
“‘I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this weekend. I was concerned a little over fitness, or lack of it!, but it wasn’t an issue in the end. We had brand new lightweight OMP race suits supplied by Murray Motorsport the day before the event, and they made a huge difference in the intense heat. The Atech team are very experienced at top level endurance racing, and they made the weekend run very smoothly.”
“The biggest thing to learn I found was the responsibility of the driver to manage the car during your stint. At the wheel for 2 hours at a time is fine, but you have to bring the car back as you got it. Not with bits hanging off it. Not worn out. Ultimate lap times are not needed. Getting through 24 hours without additional pit stops for repairs and maintenance is what counts, and the Atech team managed this superbly.‘The team work needed behind the scenes to get a car and 4 drivers through 24 hours is certainly impressive. Especially as we led most of the race, and so were under pressure right to the end. An experience I’ll never forget, Big thank you Simon Caddy of Cadspeed, Julian Griffin and all his talented team at Atech, and of course Audi Wexford.
— Audi Sport (@audisport) January 14, 2017
I had very generous support from Audi Wexford over this weekend, and by playing a part in Audi Sport notching up their first TCR victory, I hope there is something I can do in this class in the future.”