Audi has celebrated their second consecutive one-two win in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Austin. Following their victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours in June, Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer secured first place again while in second place Lucas di Grassi, Loïc Duval and Tom Kristensen completed Audi’s success by taking second place in the fourth race of the season. Unfortunately for Toyota Racing they experienced a dramatic and frustrating Six Hours of the Circuit of the Americas. However through sheer determination the team emerged with a hard-fought podium finish.
Marcel Fässler spoke about the team’s victory “We’re very happy because the victory was perfect – unlike our qualifying session. The race was a bit wild in the beginning, with the rain shower in the early phase. But the Audi team did the best job of maintaining an overview of the situation and took the right actions. My team-mates drove brilliantly. Towards the end of the race, I still achieved an advantage knowing that I had to make a final splash-and-dash refueling stop. It’s great that we managed to clinch a one-two victory.”
Benoît Tréluyer “It was a fantastic race. A lot happened. The number 8 Toyota was very fast in the beginning, but initially they always are. Then we had a good pace and were close to them. After the rain interruption we started at the front. That made it possible for me to control the pace and the advantage. I didn’t take too many risks and am happy with my stint. André (Lotterer) and Marcel (Fässler) drove superbly too. As at Le Mans, we didn’t touch any rivals. This is one of the key factors this year for mounting the very top of the podium.”
The Austin race made for an interesting event which included a sudden downpour of rain, red flags after a series of spins and a tactically challenging course converted the night race in Texas into a real thriller. The 20th race in the young history of the WEC was a classic that remained open up to the very end.
After six hours of racing, the victorious Audi driver trio prevailed with a very narrow margin of 53 seconds against their team-mates. The race which began in bright sunshine and warm temperatures was soon to change as the race unfolded.
The race began promisingly for Toyota Racing, with Buemi starting from pole position in the No8 car. He established a substantial lead early on, while Wurz brought the No8 car up into second. Audi put down an early tactical marker and opted not to change tires at the first pit stop. One and a half hours into the race drizzling rain set in that soon changed into a downpour. Audi made a timely switch from slicks to wets on both R18 e-tron quattro cars. While both Audi’s were out of danger elsewhere on the track several competitors including Toyota slipped into the gravel and came to a halt in dangerous places and as a caution race control decided to red flag the race.
After a 50 minutes wait, the teams resumed the race behind the safety car. Undaunted by being a lap down the Toyota drivers Lapierre and Davidson led the fight-back with Buemi putting in a series of quick laps, including the fastest of the race, to claim third place at the chequered flag – a result that had looked highly unlikely a few hours earlier. Both Audi cars kept their rain tires when the race was restarted on a wet track. Fifteen minutes later, Audi Sport Team Joest decided to switch car number 2 to intermediates while Benoît Tréluyer defended the lead before changing to slicks an hour later.
In the case of the sister car, the team opted for a different strategy. To save the switch to intermediates, the squad wanted to use the rain tires until conditions became dry enough for slicks. This tactical option resulted in one less pit stop. However, Tom Kristensen also had to first change to intermediate tires before being able to switch to slicks at the next pit stop.
For Audi, this marked the 13th victory in 20 WEC races since the beginning of the World Championship in 2012.
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “It was a very difficult race. The heavy downpour that washed some of the cars off track and our decision at the right moment to be the first to switch to rain tires all played a crucial part in our one-two victory. But so did our good pace. Everything perfectly fit: we had a good car, the drivers performed superbly and there were fast pit stops. We can enjoy this success. It’s great that things are continuing so positively after Le Mans.”
Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro), 157 laps in 6h 01m52.122s
Di Grassi/Duval/Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) + 53.016s
Buemi/Davidson/Lapierre (Toyota) + 1m 03.945s
Dumas/Jani/Lieb (Porsche) – 1 lap
Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (Porsche) – 2 laps
Conway/Sarrazin/Wurz (Toyota) – 2 laps
Beche/Heidfeld/Prost (Rebellion-Toyota) – 8 laps
Bradley/Howson/Matsuda (Oreca-Nissan) – 12 laps
Mediani/Minassian/Zlobin (Oreca-Nissan) – 12 laps
Brown/Dalziel/Sharp (HPD-Honda) – 16 laps
Porsche while not having the best of race weekends did give us a chance to see what a lap of the Circuit of the Americas was like from inside the car he we ride with Timo Bernhard in the 919 Hybrid.
Things were close at the World Rallycross in Germany Next Post:
Ferrari and the USA 60 years together