In dreadful conditions across the weekend Audi won a rain soaked 6 Hours of the Circuit of the Americas. It was a race where all three major LMP1 teams enjoyed time in the spotlight, but the experience of Audi was shining when it mattered most.
The #8 Toyota TS040 started the race on pole, with the two Porsche 919s behind. Sebastien Buemi was in the lead Toyota and built up a strong lead early. Then, about 100 minutes into the race, chaos ensued after a massive downpour saw cars sliding everywhere except on the racing line.
Race organisers had little choice but to bring a halt to proceedings and the race was red flagged for around 45 minutes. Heavy rain had been experienced during practice and qualifying sessions prior to race day as well. So the teams at least had some idea of how the track would react in the wet.
Although, the rain during the race was torrential and both Toyotas ended up off track losing a lap to the field while they recovered. The #20 Porsche 919 also lost time after an unwanted excursion.
After the restart it became a race between the two Audis and the #14 Porsche, which was leading during the latter stages of the race until a loss of power saw the car drop to fourth. From there a one-two victory was Audi’s for the taking and they didn’t falter.
2014 6 hours of COTA (top six)
- #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro (Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer) – 157 laps
- #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro (Di Grassi/Duval/Kristensen) – +53,016s
- #8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid (Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi) – +1:03,945m
- #14 Porsche 919 Hybrid (Dumas/Jani/Lieb) – +1 lap
- #20 Porsche 919 Hybrid (Bernhard/Hartley/Webber) – +2 laps
- #7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid (Wurz/Sarrazin/Conway) – +2 laps
Audi celebrates second WEC season victory at Austin
- Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer won turbulent race in Texas
- Audi took lead of the standings with second victory of the season
- Audi R18 e-tron quattro celebrates one-two victory
Ingolstadt/Austin, September 20, 2014 – Audi has celebrated the second consecutive one-two win in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Following their victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours in June, Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) in the fourth race of the season at Austin prevailed again. A sudden downpour of rain, red flags after a series of spins and a tactically challenging course of the race on a drying track converted the night race in Texas into a real thriller. Lucas di Grassi/Loïc Duval/Tom Kristensen (BR/F/DK) completed Audi’s success by taking second place.
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 round at the Circuit of the Americas treated the spectators to supreme suspense up to the checkered flag. The race had a regular beginning in bright sunshine and temperatures of more than 30 degrees centigrade. Audi put down an early tactical marker, opted not to change tires at the first pit stop, and advanced position by position. 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 Benoît Tréluyer took the lead and Tom Kristensen third place, numerous competitors slipped into the gravel and came to a halt in dangerous places. Therefore, race control decided to red flag the race.
About 50 minutes later, the teams resumed the race behind the safety car. Both Audi diesel hybrid sports 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. On the tires designed for mixed conditions, 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. Following a recovery by Lucas di Grassi at the end of the race, car number 1 finished as the runner-up.
Audi decided the WEC race in North America in its favor last year as well. For Audi, this marked the 13th victory in 20 WEC races since the beginning of the World Championship in 2012. On achieving this most recent success the squad of Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich and Chris Reinke, Head of LMP, after four of eight races, took the lead in the WEC manufacturers’ standings for the first time. Round five on the WEC calendar will be held on the track at Fuji in Japan in three weeks from now.
Quotes after the race
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.”
Chris Reinke (Head of LMP): “Following our victory at Le Mans, it was our aim to leave Austin as the leaders of the World Championship. We managed to do that. We delivered a commanding performance. We were briefly unfortunate in qualifying but regained our strength in the race. We acted sensibly in changing conditions because there were many obstacles to overcome. We clinched a well-deserved victory.”
Ralf Jüttner (Team Director Audi Sport Team Joest): “It was a very turbulent race. When we used the tires for two stints we started to advance. In the rain, we made exactly the right decision this time. ‘Thank you’ to the spotter, who announced all the dangers to the drivers via radio transmission. After the interruption by the red flags we moved forward with an all-out attack. It was difficult because our rivals were very fast too. We were able to manage our tires well and had sensational drivers. The one-two victory is brilliant and we’re heading the manufacturers’ world championship. We wouldn’t mind things continuing like this.”
Marcel Fässler (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “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.”
André Lotterer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “A superb result for the team. You can’t wish for anything better than first and second place. The team performance today was superb. This also applies to our partner Michelin. The technical crew was confident that we’d only have to change the tires at every other stop. We didn’t make any mistakes in the rain either. This was an important step in the Championship.”
Benoît Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “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.”
Lucas di Grassi (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “This was a repetition of Le Mans – first and second place. I’m very happy about this result after the difficult qualifying. We had a wrong tire choice in the rain about halfway through the race, so our strategy no longer fit and we needed an additional stop. The car was very good. I was able to overtake two cars on my stint. I’m happy about the podium. Two podium results within two weeks aren’t too bad, are they?”
Loïc Duval (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “A fantastic result for Audi, because now we’re heading the manufacturers’ standings. The race result, with first and second place, couldn’t have been any better either. Our car number 1 was in contention for victory this weekend as well but there were too many incidents with the rain and the red flags. We were also lacking a bit of fortune and our tire strategy didn’t pan out completely. But I’m happy about Audi’s one-two victory.”
Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “What a race. The conditions were tough from the beginning to the end. A lot here depended on the strategy and tire choice. A one-two result following the difficult day in qualifying is fantastic. I’m already looking forward to the next race in Japan.”
1 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro), 157 laps in 6h 01m52.122s
2 Di Grassi/Duval/Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) + 53.016s
3 Buemi/Davidson/Lapierre (Toyota) + 1m 03.945s
4 Dumas/Jani/Lieb (Porsche) – 1 lap
5 Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (Porsche) – 2 laps
6 Conway/Sarrazin/Wurz (Toyota) – 2 laps
7 Beche/Heidfeld/Prost (Rebellion-Toyota) – 8 laps
8 Bradley/Howson/Matsuda (Oreca-Nissan) – 12 laps
9 Mediani/Minassian/Zlobin (Oreca-Nissan) – 12 laps
10 Brown/Dalziel/Sharp (HPD-Honda) – 16 laps
Toyota Racing salvages third place finish in stormy Texas
- Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi maintain drivers’ championship lead after fourth round of 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship
Toyota Racing experienced a dramatic and frustrating Six Hours of the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on Saturday, emerging with a hard-fought podium finish in a storm-lashed fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Heavy rain caused chaos early in the race and it required a superb recovery drive from the No8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid of Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sébastian Buemi to claim third place and maintain the trio’s joint leadership of the drivers’ championship by an 11-point margin.
Although the No7 car of Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Toyota Racing debutant Mike Conway finished sixth, Toyota relinquished its manufacturers’ title lead to Audi, which now heads the table by 16 points at the season’s half-way point.
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. After a driver change near the first hour mark, a torrential downpour hit the circuit. Both Toyotas, running on slick tyres, aquaplaned off the track, the No8 car becoming stuck in a gravel trap. The race was red-flagged and after a delay of nearly an hour the restart saw Lapierre in fourth and Conway in seventh, both cars having lost a lap to the field.
Undaunted, 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.
Davidson remained positive after the race: “Looking on the bright side, which you have to do when the result doesn’t go your way, we had the fastest car. We should have won, that was clear. We have the car to fight for the championship. It is going to be tough but we are still ahead in the drivers’ championship at least. We can only look forward and make sure we win as many race as we can from here on in.”
Toyota Racing will seek to recover the winning habit in the next round of the series, the Six Hours of Fuji – the team’s “home” event” – in Japan on 12 October.
FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), round 4, Austin (Texas, USA), LMP1 race
After a long time in the lead the Porsche 919 Hybrids came fourth and fifth in Austin
Stuttgart. After a strong qualifying performance and a long time in the lead in the race the two Porsche 919 Hybrids only finished fourth and fifth in the six-hour race on Saturday. Car number 14, driven by Romain Dumas (France), Neel Jani (Switzerland) and Marc Lieb (Germany), was leading the race for a long time, but suffered problems at the end and finished just in front of its sister car in Austin, Texas (USA). Timo Bernhard (Germany), Brendon Hartley (New Zealand) and Mark Webber (Australia) brought their number 20 car home in fifth place after an action packed fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), which was held half at night.
Starting drivers Dumas (P2) and Webber (P3) lost ground in the early stages of the race. They were running fifth and sixth when they came in for their first pit stops. After the first 100 minutes rain set in and led to chaos. On a track that was suddenly flooded half a dozen cars spun off and became stranded, car number 20 with Timo Bernhard at the wheel was one of them. The race was red flagged and stopped for 45 minutes.
At the restart behind the safety car Jani was at the wheel of car number 14, and was third in the race on slick intermediate tyres. He soon took the lead, and after 105 laps handed over to Lieb who went out on slicks. After the final stop for fuel after 133 laps a loss of engine power forced him to drop back to fourth.
Bernhard in the number 20 sister car was able to continue after the red flag and after he had been rescued from the gravel on full wet tyres, but soon changed to slick intermediate tyres as well. On lap 90 he was lying fourth and handed over to Hartley. For the last 30 minutes Webber returned to the car and finally crossed the line in fifth.
Wolfgang Hatz, Board member for Research and Development Porsche AG: “Until shortly before the end it was a very encouraging weekend for us in which we were fighting for the race win. The team did a great job and it is a shame it has been unrewarded.”
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “Unfortunately we did not manage to turn the development work of the recent months and the good qualifying result into the amount of championship points we wanted. Similar to what happened in Le Mans, we had chances to get a podium, perhaps even a race win. We will carefully analyse what has led to the loss of power in car number 14 and get prepared for Fuji.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “The outcome of the race is obviously disappointing. It was hard work and mixed conditions. In the beginning of the race, when it was dry and hot, we could not go at the same pace as the leaders, but in the rain we have been surprisingly strong. For the restart we split strategies to increase our chances. The decision to put slick intermediate tyres on car number 14 enabled us to take the lead. In the end a problem in the powertrain cost us a podium finish.”
Drivers car no. 14
Romain Dumas (36, France): “In the beginning we suffered a bit because of the high temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius. On a clear lap it was good, but in traffic we had too much understeer.”
Neel Jani (30, Switzerland): “When the rain set in it was completely crazy. Initially it was only wet in one corner, but then suddenly the circuit was flooded everywhere. I came uphill and then just slid away – through a gravel bed, onto the grass and back on track. The decision to restart on slick intermediate tyres paid off. I hoped the track would dry out quickly because of the heat, and then I managed to really take care of those tyres. I was leading by more than half a minute when I handed the car over. Our strategic decisions were all right, the team did a great job.”
Marc Lieb (34, Germany): “This was a tough fight. Romain and Neel did a great job. It was super to take over the Porsche 919 Hybrid as the leading car. After my pit stop the engine suddenly lost power and, therefore, I couldn’t defend the lead in the end. The team did a great job in preparing the car, we really deserved a podium.”
Drivers car no. 20
Timo Bernhard (33, Germany): “It wasn’t my day today. My stint began well before the drizzle started. I went for slick intermediate tyres but when I left the pit lane it suddenly became heavy rain. I found myself floating, I was just a passenger. Then for the restart behind the safety car we went on the safe side and took full wet tyres, but this was a disadvantage. Later with the slick intermediate tyres it was all fine. However, that’s racing.”
Brendon Hartley (24, New Zealand): “When I took over from Timo we were already one lap down. The Porsche 919 Hybrid has left a strong impression, I enjoyed driving both in the day and night. At some point I hit a big part of debris on the track, which compromised the car’s aerodynamics a bit.”
Mark Webber (38, Australia): “In the beginning it was a good battle with the Audi, but they have clearly been more comfortable in traffic and could easily pick various different lines. Temporarily I also did not have the full boost, but we were able to fix this while I was running. We have definitely learnt a lot in the high temperatures of the early part of the race and also later in the stints.”
Race result 6 hours of Austin (Texas):
1. Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (CH/D/F), Audi R18 e-tron quattro, 157 laps
2. Di Grassi/Duval/Kristensen (BRA/F/DK), Audi R18 e-tron quattro, – 53,016 s.
3. Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi (GB/F/CH), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, – 1:03,945 min
4. Dumas/Jani/Lieb (F/CH/D), Porsche 919 Hybrid, – 1 lap
5. Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (D/NZ/AUS), Porsche 919 Hybrid, – 2 laps
6. Wurz/Sarrazin/Conway (A/F/GB), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, – 2 laps
FIA World Endurance Champonship (WEC) after 4 of 8 rounds,
1. Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi (GB/F/CH), Toyota, 96 points
2. Lotterer/Tréluyer/Fässler (D/F/CH), Audi, 85
3. Di Grassi/ Kristensen (BRA/DK), Audi, 72
4. Prost/Heidfeld/Beche (F/D/CH), Rebellion, 48
5. Dumas/Jani/Lieb (F/CH/D), Porsche, 45
6. Wurz/Sarrazin (A/F), Toyota, 43
7. Duval (F), Audi, 36
8. Gené (E), Audi, 36
9. Nakajima (J), Toyota, 35
10. Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (D/NZ/AUS), Porsche, 25,5
1. Audi, 157
2. Toyota, 139
3. Porsche, 82