Erik Holstein returned to International Endurance racing last weekend at the Hankook 12 Hour of Spa at the wheel of a TCR Audi.
Having already won in the series, when he piloted the same TCR spec Audi RS3 LMS, Holstein and highly experienced team mate James Kaye were confident of another strong result, despite a strong class entry of 20 TCR class cars.
Holstein joined Friday’s Free practise but only managed four laps of the 7km Grand Prix circuit before a gearbox oil leak sent him to the pits. By the time the team managed to cure the issue, Free practise was over, but Holstein’s time was good enough for P3 in class, buoying the team for the 12 hour race ahead. Mindful of the length of the race, the team elected not run run new tyres for qualifying and used the session simply as a systems check, happy with 11th in the TCR class.
James Kaye started the race for the team and with a characteristic bullish opening lap, charged up to fifth to follow the leaders across the line at the end of the opening lap. Unfortunately, this was as good as it got for the duo. An early Code 60 effectively neutralised the race and when it was lifted, James’ radio had failed and he was jumped by three other cars, dropping him to eighth. At the first stop, Holstein took over and iniitally rejoined in 11th. Unfortunately, a few laps later, the silver Audi appeared in the pitlane again. A severe vibration at high speed was making the car undriveable. The team fitted two new front wheels and tyres and sent him back out, but to no avail, as he was back in the pitlane a lap later. A new hub was then fitted and once again, Holstein rejoined the fray, this time right at the back. Once again though, the issue was far from sorted and when he arrived back in the pits once again, the team reversed the TCR machine into the garage and began stripping the front end. The issue was traced to a faulty driveshaft and a new, upgraded unit was supplied by Audi Sport and fitted to the car.
Erik rejoined right at the tail of the field and with the problem rectified, immediately matched the TCR leaders’ laptimes. Having dropped fo far back though, it was unlikely they would have been classified so the team took the difficult to withdraw from the race.
Erik Holstein: “A case of what could have been. The car felt good and Free Practise showed we were on the ultimate TCR pace. It was satisfying to find the problem in the end, as the car was completely undriveable beforehand. There was no point in continuing though, as we could never have got back into contention.”