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Apex Motorsport, formerly known as Audi Sport UK, was a British auto racing team founded in 1996 by former racing driver Richard Lloyd in partnership with the Volkswagen Group.[1] Formed to bring Audi into the British Touring Car Championship, the team won the teams and manufacturers titles in their debut season, as well as the drivers championship for German Frank Biela with eight victories over the course of the season. Biela and Audi Sport UK finished the 1997 season in second for all three championships before the series banned the four-wheel drive systems that Audi utilized, forcing the team to redevelop a new car for 1998. The 1998 BTCC campaign was winless, and Audi Sport UK left the series at the end of the season to concentrate on sports car racing.

United Kingdom Apex Motorsport
Founded1996 (1996)
Founder(s)Richard Lloyd
Folded2014 (2014)
BaseBuckingham, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom
Team principal(s)John Wickham
Harry Handkammer
Former seriesBritish Touring Car Championship
FIA GT3 European Championship
British GT Championship
International GT Open
Noted driversGermany Frank Biela
United Kingdom John Bintcliffe
France Yvan Muller
United Kingdom Guy Smith
Monaco Stéphane Ortelli
United Kingdom Andy Wallace
United States Butch Leitzinger
Belgium Eric van de Poele
Teams'
Championships
1 (1996 BTCC)
Drivers'
Championships
1 (1996 BTCC)
Frank Biela's 1996 British Touring Car Championship Audi A4

Audi Sport UK, in conjunction with Racing Technology Norfolk, developed and campaigned the Audi R8C for Audi's first attempt at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The team failed to finish, in part due to a rushed schedule to complete the two cars. The team spent 2000 building cars for the American Speedvision World Challenge series[2] but remained involved in Volkswagen's sports car program as Bentley, another Volkswagen Group brand, began developing their own entry for Le Mans.[3] The team changed their name to Apex Motorsport and debuted the Bentley EXP Speed 8 in 2001 and finished with one car on the race podium. A fourth-place finish followed in 2002 before Apex joined with Joest Racing, who had been running Audi's continued Le Mans program, to campaign two cars in 2003 at the 12 Hours of Sebring as well as Le Mans. Third and Fourth places were earned at Sebring, while Team Bentley scored a one-two finish at Le Mans, with Tom Kristensen, Rinaldo Capello, and Guy Smith driving the winning car.

Bentley's program ended after the Le Mans victory, and Apex Motorsport was left without any Volkswagen Group programs and remained stagnant for two years. The team's assets were put up for auction in 2006 to no avail.[4] Lloyd, along with racing driver and entrepreneur Harry Handkammer, approached Jaguar Cars to develop a Group GT3 sportscar program.[5] Built around the Jaguar XKR, Apex and Jaguar agreed to build cars for the team as well as cars to be sold to customers to justify the cost of the program. The team first raced the cars late in the 2007 season for the international FIA GT3 European Championship and British GT Championship. While developing the Jaguars in March 2008, Lloyd and team member Christopher Allarton, along with racing driver David Leslie were en route to Nogaro Circuit for testing when their aircraft crashed near Biggin Hill. All three, plus two pilots, were killed in the crash.[6] Despite the loss for the team, they continued their FIA GT3 campaign for the season, and pushed with further development of the car in 2009. However the project came to an early close in 2009 after no cars had been sold to customers and the team was dissolved by 2014.[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Newbold, James (30 March 2018). "Remembering a racing pioneer and deal-maker". Autosport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Audi to Provide Turnkey S4 Competition Racers". Motorsport Network. 24 March 2000. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  3. ^ "Bentley Motors returns to Le Mans". Motorsport Network. 3 November 2000. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Apex Motorsport assets up for sale". Autosport.com. Haymarket Press. 7 February 2006. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  5. ^ "Jaguar XKR GT3". Racecar Engineering. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  6. ^ "Leslie and Lloyd killed in plane crash". Motorsport Network. 1 April 2008. Retrieved 2 November 2018.