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FIA WEC: one-two victory for Audi at Silverstone

WEC 6h Silverstone 2013Audi began the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in World Champion?s style. The two Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars dominated the Silverstone 6 Hours and deservingly clinched a one-two victory. For Audi, following the one-two result in the non-championship Sebring 12 Hours in March, this marked the second sports car success this year.

For the first time, Audi won the famous RAC Tourist Trophy. The tradition-steeped trophy that has been awarded since 1905, was the main prize for the 2013 WEC opening event. The Scotsman Allan McNish (GB) was pleased to win this important motorsport trophy at his ?home? round. Together with Tom Kristensen (DK) he was on the grid for the first time with his new team-mate Loïc Duval (F). The trio is now leading the WEC drivers? standings with a seven-point advantage. In the fifth hour of the race, after 151 laps, they took the lead. Despite an excursion while lapping another car and an additional tire change McNish went on to recover the lead and crossed the finish line with a 3.4-second advantage.

From the start, a thrilling battle had ensued with challenger Toyota. Allan McNish in the number 2 Audi grabbed the lead for the first time on the sixth lap. The sister car ? number 1 ? driven by Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) completed Audi?s one-two lead at an early stage. On lap 77, the Swiss fought his way forward to the very front. A defect on the left front driveshaft after four hours of racing though meant that the hybrid system of car number 1 was no longer able to deliver its power to the front wheels. With that, the current World Champions had to admit defeat.

In the technologically challenging battle of the best hybrid sports cars Audi ? like last year ? achieved victory in front of Toyota at Silverstone. The two R18 e-tron quattro cars had been set up for particularly high aerodynamic downforce. The smaller air restrictor prescribed by the regulations this year was to reduce the output of Audi?s LMP sports cars. The engineers from Audi Sport worked on compensating for this disadvantage, which also included a power-oriented engine development. Furthermore, the 58-liter fuel tank capacity of the diesel hybrid sports car being around 20 percent smaller than that of the gasoline engine sports car of competitor Toyota resulted in shorter refueling intervals for Audi. Despite an additional refueling stop Audi managed to win with a one-lap advantage in front of the best Toyota finishing in third place.

In just three weeks from now, the next competition is on the agenda. At Spa-Francorchamps, on May 4, Audi is fielding three R18 e-tron quattro cars in the race for the first time this year in preparation for the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Quotes after the race

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): ?It?s very nice to be able to finish the first WEC race in 2013 with a one-two victory. From the beginning to the end, we showed a consistently good performance. Both cars were running on different strategies and it was thrilling through to the end. Although car number 1 was ultimately handicapped the lap times were very strong. A duel of the kind fought between Allan McNish and Benoît Tréluyer is unrivaled in motorsport. That proves that our drivers are free to battle on track. But they also know that they?re driving for the Audi brand and they impressively showed that.?

Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): ?A great day for Audi, for our team and for the spectators. Our pit stop intervals were shorter than Toyota?s but we compensated for that with a faster race pace. The drivers did everything right and the pit stops were superb. Allan McNish set an exclamation mark in the end and went on to win a race that was almost believed to be lost. The other driver pairing accepted the result in true sporting spirit. That was a nice start into the season.?

Loïc Duval (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): ?A fantastic weekend. Allan McNish was incredibly strong at Silverstone. He was very quick and even recovered the time loss after spinning shortly before the end. I?m delighted about immediately clinching a victory on my first start in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro at Silverstone.?

Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): ?A nice race in which we clearly showed how we increased our pace in the winter. Toyota?s performance deserves respect as well. We?ve seen a thrilling battle in which Allan McNish recovered despite a spin. And Loïc Duval experienced a very nice debut in our driver squad.?

Allan McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): ?We knew it would be a difficult race. The competition with Toyota was tough, plus there was a thrilling duel between both Audi cars. In the end, it became a battle between Benoît Tréluyer and me. After I spun, I went for maximum attack on new tires. I managed to move to the front only on the penultimate lap. I?m happy about having scored the maximum number of points at the WEC opener for the second consecutive time.?

Marcel Fässler (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): ?An extremely thrilling race. Allan McNish was running on new tires toward the end while our tires had already run for many kilometers. Congratulations to the drivers of car number 2. It was a great race for both cars and a nice one-two victory for Audi in the battle with Toyota.?

André Lotterer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): ?It was an open battle up to the end. For us, the race lasted two minutes too long… But it was a great result for Audi. For the Championship, the starting base is perfect even though we?d have liked to have been one step higher. We can be pleased nonetheless.?

Benoît Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): ?It?s been a good race even though we were lacking a bit of fortune toward the end. But the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro is a car that feels great. A good omen for the future.?

Race results

1 Duval/Kristensen/McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 197 laps
2 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) + 3.462s
3 Buemi/Davidson/Sarrazin (Toyota) ? 1 lap
4 Lapierre/Wurz (Toyota) ? 1 lap
5 Heidfeld/Jani/Prost (Lola-Toyota) ? 4 laps
6 Beche/Belicchi/Cheng (Lola-Toyota) ? 7 laps
7 Graves/Pizzonia/Walker (Oreca-Nissan) ? 13 laps
8 Brundle/Heinemeier-Hansson/Pla (Morgan-Nissan) ? 14 laps
9 Dyson/Kimber-Smith/Marsal (Zytek-Nissan) ? 17 laps
10 Kaffer/Perez Companc/Minassian (Oreca-Nissan) ? 18 laps

(Image: Audi Motorsport)

Discussion

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  1. As nobody seems too interested in the Silverstone WEC we offer a few observations from track side. It was cold, windy and wet on Saturday, and not much better on Sunday. Why run a 6 hour race at exposed Silverstone in April ? The weather used to be bad enough for the traditional race date in early May, it was perishing in mid April.

    The teams were all high quality outfits. The GTE and LMP2 entries were varied and provided interesting racing. The Aston’s were fast and reliable at home but the AF Corse Ferrari’s weren’t far off the pace and new Porsche looks the part – hard to imagine it not being on the pace by Le Mans. The new P2 Lotus was untried but showed promise, good luck to them.

    The real issue was the expected lack of P1 cars. Toyota had tire problems for the first half of the race:, by the time they had sorted the suspension and brake settings to use the tires as intended it was pointless chasing the Audis. The Rebellions were as good as they could be and if Strakka had avoided misfortune in practice and the race it was clearly able to challenge the #12 and 13 cars. The show just needs more P1 cars: from a couple of manufacturers and a couple of good privateers. After Spa and Le Mans when Toyota and Rebellion probably drop to one car apiece you’ve got ask whether it will be worth the price of a ticket ?

    In his [excellent] RLM commentary John Hindhaugh questioned whether Rebellion had played the wrong card in ’13 by staying in P1 where it has little/no privateer opposition. On the face of it his question seemed well balanced, but the message from the fans is clear – the #12 and 13 cars look and sound fantastic – we need more P1′s not fewer. Oh well, we’ll just have to go drink more beer at Spa in two weeks time.

    Posted by XJ8 | April 20, 2013, 10:15
  2. @XJ8:
    Thanks for the Silverstone impressions and see you at Spa.
    To your point about Rebellion: They probably decided to run the LMP1 Lola-Toyota one last season before the regulations will change anyway. Maybe they will be back with a new LMP1 car in 2014, when there will be more competition (e.g. from Lotus). And another point is that by staying in LMP1 they have the chance to go for the last ALMS title (it was a good fight against Muscle Milk at Long Beach last weekend).

    Posted by kw | April 22, 2013, 20:16
  3. I was also at Silverstone for the main event only and have to say I had a fantastic day. It’s said that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices. I’m not entirely sure I agree with it, but have to say that I found my Trespass 3-in-1, Alpine Stars gloves (thin enough to operate a camera, thick enough to keep warm) and walking boots were more than enough to keep me warm.
    That’s not to say I was impressed by the choice of April, because I wasn’t! Indeed, I only made up my mind to go the day before as I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it if the weather was too bad.
    XJ8 is spot-on, more LMP1 entries would be most welcome, so I can’t wait to see Porsche line up against Audi and Toyota in, say 13 – 15 months time :-)

    Posted by SimonC | April 22, 2013, 23:50
  4. As for LMP1, it would be good to have more of them
    But the market is deciding other wise. Anyone can see p2 is on the rise and most privateer chassis builders qill focus on churning out p2 cars.

    Strakka has a faster car than rebellion, but it would take a highly motivated and organized team and only top line drivers to squeeze out the last tenths. Nick lentis is a gentleman drivet, but the team is built around him.

    Strakka too should have raced in the ALMS fot this year.

    Posted by David Chaste | April 30, 2013, 3:18
  5. Like other amateur commentators we made Spa for the race weekend. It was interesting to see the ‘longer’ tailed Audi, disappointing to see the revised Toyota withdraw with brake/energy recovery problems. Apparently Audi had KERRS issues too: we met a delivery driver/sports car fan who had ferried 2 x new KERRS units overnight Friday from Williams Engineering to replace failed units for Audi.

    The Lotus’ are getting closer to the 2 pace. The Astons were no match for the 458s around Spa, but the Manthey Porsche AG cars looked faster and seemed more reliable so who would bet against their development coming to fruition at Le Mans ?

    Amateur Conclusions: Audi has the resource to develop its cars as required and Joest is an amazing team. Toyota has considerably less resource, and less experience. The top flight of the WEC should be for manufacturer based or [at least] supported P1 cars. The FIA should leave P2 to be successful as it now for privateers AND take real action to encourage manufacturers to engage in P1. Making P2 the premier class would not work long term because, as manufacturers are essential to world championship status, the approach would simply allow ‘a’ manufacturer to ruin the efforts of all the currently great privateer teams [or at least that's the general view of this group of fans for discussion].

    Race questions: how will any other manufacturer challenge Audi unless it can afford a similar budget ? Will VAG really allow Porsche to engage Audi, there seems to be no news of developments at Weissach ? Old rumours about NISSAN joining the WEC also seem to be forgotten [sadly]. Has the Audi budget frightened other manufacturers away ? We wish the Lotus team well [the car certainly looks the part in P2]; they may give Rebellion and Strakka a fight in P1 in the future and that would be good, but an Audi, Toyota or Porsche they ain’t.

    Finally, whilst we agree that Nick Leventis is the money behind Strakka we’ve also seen him get faster and smoother over the last year or two and we’re grateful to him for his committment to WEC P1. Another like him would be very welcome: we raised our glasses on several occasions to the Strakka and Rebellion teams over the weekend………….

    Posted by xj8 | May 6, 2013, 16:41

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