Audi tackles “Petit Le Mans” from the front
row of the grid
Timo Bernhard misses pole position by just 128 thousandths
Dindo Capello takes position four for Audi
Record field and record turnout at Road Atlanta
Ingolstadt/Road Atlanta, September 30, 2011 – Audi Sport Team Joest will tackle
the 1000-mile “Petit Le Mans” race at Road Atlanta (U.S. state of Georgia) from
the front row of the grid. Timo Bernhard was merely 128 thousandths of a second
short of clinching the pole position. This means that the Audi R18 TDI will be on
the front row again at its fifth race.
Qualifying on the 4.088-kilometer track at Road Atlanta was a mirror image of the
previous practice sessions: The world’s fastest diesel race sports cars from Audi and
Peugeot had constantly been taking turns at the front of the record field of
entrants. Three fastest times went to Audi and two to Peugeot.
The chase for times was similarly thrilling on Friday afternoon. First, the Peugeot
drivers posted the so far fastest laps of the whole week. Then Audi countered: Timo
Bernhard in the Audi R18 TDI designated as car number “1” managed to get
between the two factory Peugeot cars and secured position two on the grid for Audi.
Dindo Capello in the “sister car” – number “2” – was on a fast lap as well when he
caught a slower prototype, losing crucial time in the process. The Italian finished
the qualifying session on position four.
In Sunday’s race doing a good job of getting through the extremely heavy traffic on
the track will be more crucial than pure speed. 57 vehicles will be on the track at
Road Atlanta. Consequently, the fast LMP1 sports cars have to constantly overtake
and drive alongside the racing line. Therefore, Audi Sport Team Joest fully
concentrated on working out an optimum race set-up during the practice sessions.
For race day the organizers at Road Atlanta are expecting a record turnout. After an
extremely hot week in Georgia the weather forecast has predicted slightly cooler
temperatures. The race will start 11:30 local time (17:30 CEST) and covers a
distance of 1000 miles or a maximum of ten hours.
In the #1 Audi R18 TDI Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Marcel Fässler are
taking turns at the wheel, car #2 is driven by Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and
Allan McNish. With nine successes, Audi is the record winner of the “Petit Le Mans”
race. Marcel Fässler and Tom Kristensen are scheduled to drive the starting stints.
Quotes after qualifying
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “In the past few days the gaps
between us and our main rival, Peugeot, became smaller and smaller. In qualifying
the difference was merely a tenth of a second. We’ve put one of our cars on the
front row. There was just a tiny bit missing, but we all know that that’s not crucial
for the outcome of the race here. But it’s good to see that we’re on an equal footing
in terms of performance capability. That’s a good base for the race.”
Timo Bernhard (Audi R18 TDI #1): “I’m really pleased. Two weeks ago, at
Silverstone, I also drove the qualifying session but we were a bit unfortunate with
the weather conditions. That’s why I wanted to drive in qualifying again – either here
at Road Atlanta or at the ILMC finale at Zhuhai. I managed a good lap; it was at the
limit from the beginning to the end. I’m happy that Marcel (Fässer) will be starting
from the front row in our car tomorrow – and very much look forward to the 1000
Romain Dumas (Audi R18 TDI #1): “It was a very close qualifying session. Even in
the previous sessions the top cars were constantly taking turns at the top and were
always within fractions of a second. Qualifying has shown that things are continuing
this way. The race will be equally crazy. It’ll be about getting through without
making mistakes. Qualifying isn’t crucial but it has shown that we’ve got a car with a
Marcel Fässler (Audi R18 TDI #1): “For the moment we’re very happy because we’ve
continuously made progress from one session to the next. We’ve found a good setup
that all three of us can handle well. So it seems like we’ve taken the right
approach, as Timo (Bernhard) did a fantastic job of driving in qualifying and posted a
really good time. It shows that our car is competitive.”
Dindo Capello (Audi R18 TDI #2): “All in all, qualifying went well. I was happy with
the car. Unfortunately, I had some traffic on the first few laps. I then deliberately
dropped back a bit in order to have a gap in front of me. Afterward I must have
wanted too much and overdrove the car a bit. That cost a few tenths of seconds.
Still, we’re pleased. It’s important to be fast in the race, and particularly in traffic.
That’s what we’ve been working on over the past two days.”
Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 TDI #2): “Petit Le Mans 2011 promises to become an
incredibly captivating race. We’re in for a lot of heavy traffic. It’ll be a truly thrilling
battle on this challenging track. If you apply the number of cars here to the length
of the Le Mans track, then that equates to a field of 270 cars. That shows what we
can expect in the race. Tomorrow will be a strenuous day. In addition, the track
conditions will slightly change because the outside temperatures will drop from
almost 30 to about 20 degrees centigrade, according to the forecast.”
Allan McNish (Audi R18 TDI #2): “With almost 60 cars on the track, Petit Le Mans
is real stress. In the practice sessions we fully concentrated on developing the
optimum set-up for the race. Tom (Kristensen) was very happy with the car in the
night practice session. He’ll drive the start tomorrow, which is in an important
factor. Dindo (Capello) was also fast all the time. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve felt
very comfortable with the car’s set-up right from the beginning. Balance is good.
That’s important for the race.”
Ralf Jüttner (Technischer Direktor Audi Sport Team Joest): “We knew that the
situation would be difficult for us in qualifying. Things have been tight all weekend.
However, due to the heavy traffic it was hard to really judge the performance
capabilities without. We’re pleased with the result because the time posted by Timo
(Bernhard) is very good. It’s even faster than we’d expected. Dindo (Capello) did a
lap that would have been good enough for third place. Unfortunately, he had some
traffic in turn five. It’s more important though that we’ve been doing a good job
with the cars up to this point and that they’re doing well in traffic. The squad has
been working hard over the past few nights and that has paid off. We’re in a good
position. It’ll probably be a thrilling race.”
1 Bourdais/Pagenaud/Davidson (Peugeot) 1m 07.428s
2 Bernhard/Dumas/Fässler (Audi R18 TD) 1m 07.556s
3 Montagny/Sarrazin/Wurz (Peugeot) 1m 07.881s
4 Capello/Kristensen/McNish (Audi R18 TDI) 1m 08.013s
5 Lapierre/Minassian/Gené (Peugeot) 1m 09.777s
6 Prost/Jani/Belicchi (Lola-Toyota) 1m 10.123s
7 Pla/Prémat/Yvon (Oak-Pescarolo) 1m 10.355s
8 Fernandez/Primat/Mücke (Lola-Aston Martin) 1m 10.485s
9 Al Masaood/Kane/Leitzinger (Lola-Mazda) 1m 10.811s
10 Lahaye/Moreau/Ragues (Oak-Pescarolo) 1m 10.864s
Audi Sport/Acreditated and Autorized Media Press.