On the – provisionally – last running of the LMP1 sports cars that feature sophisticated technology at Sebring, Audi Sport Team Joest achieved a commanding one-two victory. Right from the start, the two Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars set the pace, during the entire race an Audi was at the front of the field made up of 42 prototypes and GT sports cars. The third-placed Lola-Toyota was trailing the winner by five laps at the finish.
For twelve hours, the two Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars fought a fierce duel for victory and repeatedly overtook each other in close battle. In total, the lead between the two R18 cars changed 20 times. A damaged under-floor of car number “1” that was ultimately victorious caused some headaches for Audi Sport Team Joest. The necessary repairs could be performed without any major time loss during caution periods though.
In the thrilling duel between the team’s two cars the current Le Mans winners and World Endurance Champions Marcel Fässler (CH) and Benoît Tréluyer (F) plus Sebring newcomer Oliver Jarvis (GB) prevailed by a narrow margin. All three celebrated their first Sebring triumph. For Jarvis, after the GT success with the Audi R8 GRAND-AM at the Daytona 24 Hours, this marked the second victory at a classic U.S. endurance race.
With a gap of only 7.679s, Lucas di Grassi (BR), Tom Kristensen (DK) and Allan McNish (GB) completed the Audi one-two result. A 60-second time penalty due to a collision with a slower sports prototype had been imposed against the 2013-specification Audi R18 e-tron quattro shortly before the end of the third hour.
In 14 races at Sebring with Le Mans prototypes, this marked Audi’s eleventh overall victory. Eight times the brand with the four rings celebrated one-two results. The premium manufacturer’s tally reflects 24 podium places. Ten times an Audi started from the pole position – more often than any other manufacturer in the history of the race that has been held since 1952. The Audi R8, the R10 TDI and the R15 TDI each celebrated victorious debuts at Sebring. With the first victory of a diesel sports car in 2006 and now the first triumph of a hybrid race car Audi achieved two historic victories. Audi took the first podium and the first win at a sports car race at Sebring as well. In addition, Audi regularly used the track in Florida to prepare for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
This time, Audi Sport Team Joest will again stay at Sebring after the race for tests with the Audi R18 e-tron quattro that has been subjected to further development. It still remains to be seen whether or not there will be a future for Audi at the U.S. endurance classic. After the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and the GRAND-AM Series merged to form the new “United SportsCar Racing” series no LMP1 sports cars will be permitted to run anymore as of 2014.
U.S. fans will be able to see the Audi R18 e-tron quattro soon again in the United States nonetheless. On September 22, the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) will visit the Circuit of the Americas in Austin (Texas).