Friday 6 May 2011

Audi R18 TDI clinches top three grid positions on its race debut

Audi R18 TDI clinches top three grid positions on its race debut

• New LMP1 sports car from Audi sets benchmark at Spa
• Perfect qualifying for Audi Sport Team Joest
• Successful Audi tradition continues

Ingolstadt/Spa-Francorchamps, May 6, 2011 – First race, first pole position: In
qualifying for the 1000-kilometer race at Spa the new Audi R18 TDI has
confirmed the strong impression it made two weeks ago during the test day at Le
Mans. By clinching positions one, two and three Audi Sport Team Joest achieved a
perfect qualifying result.
As early as in the three free practice sessions on Thursday and Friday the innovative
LMP1 sports car, which turns Audi’s ultra lightweight technology into a visual
experience, had been the dominant vehicle at the top of the time sheets. In
qualifying Timo Bernhard in the black Audi R18 TDI designated as car number “1”
then managed the fastest lap. Setting a time of 2m 01.502s he relegated his teammates
André Lotterer and Tom Kristensen to positions two and three by a narrow
By starting from the pole position at its first race the Audi R18 TDI continues the
tradition of the particularly successful predecessor models, R8 and R10 TDI, which
had captured the top position on the grid on their debut as well (Frank Biela in 2000
at Sebring in the R8 and Allan McNish in 2006 in the R10 TDI). AUDI AG
subsequently went down in Le Mans history with both sports prototypes.
The qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps, however, did not provide a real clue
about where the contenders stand. The session, which had originally been scheduled
for 20 minutes, ended early after 14:06 minutes due to an accident which had
severely damaged the guard rails. Not all of the top teams had completed their fast
laps by that time. As the free practice sessions had already seen numerous incidents
and red flags Audi Sport Team Joest sent its three Audi R18 TDI cars on the time
chase right at the beginning of the qualifying session– a decision that proved to be
strategically correct and earned Audi the top three grid positions.
The second round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) starts on Sunday at
14:05 hrs and lasts a maximum of six hours. Eurosport 2 will broadcast live from
14:00 hrs to 17:30 hrs (local time) from Spa-Francorchamps, Eurosport will cover
the final phase from 17:30 hrs to 20:00 hrs.

Quotes after qualifying

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “This is a nice reward for the work
done over the past few months and a great beginning for our new Audi R18 TDI.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t see the level of our rivals’ potential because qualifying
was stopped early due to an accident. The result provides good motivation to the
squad. It’s not that important at a 1000-kilometer race but it’s a nice omen.”
Timo Bernhard (Audi R18 TDI #1): “I’m incredibly happy about the result,
particularly for the team. We did carry quite a big burden because every new car at
Audi has immediately been successful. I think we’ve squeezed out the maximum
today. That I had the good fortune of clinching the first pole position in the Audi
R18 TDI fills me with pride.”

Romain Dumas (Audi R18 TDI #1): “This was a great qualifying result: positions
one, two and three for Audi! Naturally, I’m particularly happy that number ‘1’ is on
pole. We’ve been showing a good performance throughout the weekend. At a sixhour
race the position you start from is not so important. But it’s always better to be
in front. The race will be very long. We’ve got to continue to work the way we have
so far.”

Mike Rockenfeller (Audi R18 TDI #1): “The timing in qualifying was perfect. Timo
(Bernhard) nailed it down on the lap and also had that bit of necessary luck with
traffic. We’re happy. But of course we all know that this was just qualifying.
Tomorrow will be the day that counts. Still, it’s always nice to be on pole. And I
believe we’ve got a good car.”

Marcel Fässler (Audi R18 TDI #2): “I’m very pleased with the way things have been
going the past two days. Actually, an Audi has always been at the top of the list.
Coming out of qualifying with one, two, three is fantastic of course. I’m very happy,
also for the team. We’ve got a competitive car. The grid positions confirm that. I’m
excited about the race tomorrow.”

André Lotterer (Audi R18 TDI #2): “A superb result for the entire squad: Audi one,
two, three – perfect! We did a fantastic job, the car works very well. Personally, I’d
have linked clinching pole myself. Unfortunately I hit traffic on both of my trials in
the last turn. That’s why I’m afraid it didn’t work out. But the potential was there,
and that’s the most important part about it. Tomorrow is an important day to
prepare ourselves for Le Mans – and to hopefully win the race as well.”
Benoît Tréluyer (Audi R18 TDI #2): “At the moment things are looking great for us.
We’re on the top three grid positions and have a car that’s good to drive. The
prospects for the race are good too.”

Dindo Capello (Audi R18 TDI #3): “That was an outstanding qualifying session for
us. It’s been a while that we’ve had three Audi cars at the very front – that’s a very
good feeling. Tom (Kristensen) drove the smallest number of laps before qualifying.
That certainly counts when you’re fighting for tenths. We’re all looking forward to
the race. We feel comfortable in the car and are able to attack. But the race is long
and we know that a lot can happen.

Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 TDI #3): “The practice sessions and qualifying were
pretty unusual. Everyone first had to get used to 55 vehicles being on the track. The
result was many red flags. Audi 1-2-3 is a wonderful result for everyone who is part
of the team and for all Audi fans around the world. This morning I had only two
timed laps. Qualifying went well nonetheless until I hit traffic in the last chicane
after Blanchimont. That’s why I wasn’t able to improve any more. Then the red flag
came. But we’ve got a car in which we’re looking forward to contesting a 6-hour race
– I think I’m just as hot about driving the R18 TDI in a race for the first time as Allan
(McNish), Dindo (Capello) and the other drivers.”

Allan McNish (Audi R18 TDI #3): “1-2-3 on the grid is an excellent result and a first
reward for all the hard work Audi has been putting into this project over the past
few months – during all the tests but also this weekend. Of course the red flag
mixed up the grid a bit. But these things can happen if you don’t go out on track
early. The engineers have done a pretty good job with the set-up. We’ve got a wellbalanced
car now. And we’re going into the first race of the Audi R18 TDI with a 1-2-
3 on the grid – I don’t think there’s a better place to start.”
Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): “We still don’t know how
the relative strengths of the field actually pan out. We’ve seen yet again that our
strategy of always going out early is right. All three cars did good laps. It’s a great
sight having all three cars in front: A superb team result and a good start for the
Audi R18 TDI. I’d like to really thank the squad: The past few weeks have been
rough. The result today is a small reward. I’m hoping for things to continue like this

Qualifying results
1 Bernhard/Dumas/Rockenfeller (Audi R18 TDI) 2m 01.502s
2 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi R18 TDI) 2m 01.788s
3 Capello/Kristensen/McNish (Audi R18 TDI) 2m 02.145s
4 Lapierre/Duval/Panis (Peugeot) 2m 05.482s
5 Jani/Prost (Lola-Toyota) 2m 06.767s
6 Amaral/Pla (Zytek) 2m 07.290s
7 Collard/Tinseau/Jousse (Pescarolo-Judd) 2m 07.528s
8 Lahaye/Moreau/Ragues (Oak Pescarolo-Judd) 2m 07.729s
9 Cortes/Geri/Piccini (Zytek) 2m 08.821s
10 Leventis/Watts/Kane (HPD) 2m 10.016s

Audi Communications Sport/for acreditated and autorized press media.

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