Season » 2012 » 6h Spa Francorchamps (B)

2012-wec-02-rs-1618

1-2-3-4 victory for Audi Sport Team Joest

Audi Sport Team Joest delivered a thrilling premiere of two new vehicle models: Romain Dumas/Loïc Duval/Marc Gené won the Spa 6 Hours, the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC, in an open battle of the vehicle concepts. Crossing the finish line behind the Audi R18 ultra of the trio were last year’s Le Mans winners Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer. They had dominated the race in the early phase with the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, the first diesel hybrid sports car in history. In the end, they had to admit defeat though. The other two Audi driver teams completed the perfect 1-2-3-4 victory of the brand.

The successful racing debut of the Audi R18 ultra and the R18 e-tron quattro marked an important milestone for Audi. In their first competition, the two vehicle concepts, in addition to their reliability, demonstrated a very balanced overall performance. The sporting results confirmed a basic agenda set by Audi - the decision in favor of two vehicle concepts - right on the cars’ first race. Major technical advantages of individual concepts can be offset by the LMP sports prototype regulations in a way that allows a thrilling competition to unfold - even though this question will have to be answered anew on each of the race tracks under highly different general conditions.

On the wet track at Spa-Francorchamps the two hybrid sports cars initially dominated the action. André Lotterer in the number “1” R18 e-tron quattro took the lead from Tom Kristensen in the number “2” hybrid sister car after only a few laps. Lotterer gained an almost one-minute advantage over the best conventionally powered Audi R18 ultra, car number “3” driven by Marc Gené. At the end of the race’s first hour, two factors caused a preliminary decision. On a drying track, Marc Gené at the first pit stop was the only Audi to switch to slicks while the other drivers received intermediates. Consequently, Audi’s new Spanish signing was up to four seconds quicker than the rest on the 7.004-kilometer track. At the same time, the number “2” Audi R18 e-tron quattro was forced to have the hood exchanged due to a defect on the front lighting system. Tom Kristensen lost almost a minute in the process.

Thanks to the bold tire choice Marc Gené and Loïc Duval converted a gap of around one minute into an advantage during the course of 37 race laps. On lap 63, Duval took the lead - and car number “3” would not relinquish it again through to the finish. Gené, who is standing in for the injured Timo Bernhard as a reserve driver, thus managed a brilliant debut at Audi. After his successes in 2008 and 2011, the Spaniard is celebrating his third sports car victory at Spa.

Following behind Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer in second place were Marco Bonanomi/Oliver Jarvis in the second Audi R18 ultra. Both finished their sports car debut in the Audi factory team with a podium place.

Capello/Kristensen/McNish had to settle for an unfortunate fourth place but are not leaving Spa empty-handed. Allan McNish achieved the best time in qualifying on Friday and in the World Endurance Championship standings the Sebring winners are now ranking as the runners-up with 41 points. The new front runners are Romain Dumas and Loïc Duval with 43 points.

With the 1-2-3-4 victory at Spa, four reliably working race cars, a solid driver line-up and an efficiently operating Audi Sport Team Joest, Audi managed a successful dress rehearsal for the Le Mans 24 Hours. The endurance classic will be held for the 80th time on June 16 and 17. Audi is aiming for its eleventh overall victory there.

2012-wec-02-rs-1618