Saturday 17 September 2011

12 Hour Merdeka-Malaysia:Victory in Malaysia thwarted by tire failure

Victory in Malaysia thwarted by tire failure

• Frank Biela/Marcel Fässler/Marco Werner are the runners-up at Sepang
• Audi R8 LMS was the most reliable vehicle in extreme temperatures
• Customer sport race car led the race up to 18 minutes before the end

Ingolstadt/Sepang, September 17, 2011 – In extremely tough conditions at the
12-hour Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race at Sepang the Audi R8 LMS proved its
endurance racing qualities yet again. Technically, the production-derived
customer sport race car was running with absolute perfection. After the Bathurst
12 Hours, the Spa 24 Hours and Zolder 24 Hours the fourth endurance race
victory of the Audi R8 LMS was practically within reach. However, a tire failure
thwarted the victory of Team WRT (Belgian Audi Club) by a very narrow margin.
In the heat of the night: At peak temperatures of 35 degrees centigrade technical
problems in the field were the rule, but no so in the case of the Audi R8 LMS.
However, the vehicle designated as car number 1 was lacking the necessary racing
luck to achieve victory. A tire failure at the left rear wheel required an additional pit
stop just a few minutes before the end. After 12 hours of driving and 1,779.303
kilometers Frank Biela/Marcel Fässler/Marco Werner had to admit defeat by 70.489
The second vehicle of the WRT team had perfect chances for a podium place for a
long time as well. Up to the race’s midpoint Seiji Ara/Darryl O’Young/Alex Yoong
were running on position two as the best Audi drivers. When the car was about to
lap another vehicle shortly before the end of the seventh racing hour another
contender failed to notice the white-blue race car and heavily hit it. A broken swivel
mount required the whole front left suspension to be exchanged. With a gap of 15
laps the Asian driver trio resumed the race and ultimately took fifth place.
Almost at the same time the third Audi R8 LMS in the field suffered a setback as
well. Alexandre Imperatori/Jeffrey Lee/Aaron Lim in the car of the customer team
Pauian Archiland absolute racing were running in sixth place. They lost more than 90
minutes due to clutch failure since the proven module did not withstand an
accidental start in second gear after a pit stop. In the end the trio still improved to
finish in the top ten.
Whereas the last major endurance race of the year was held at Sepang the season
for the Audi R8 LMS is not over yet. In no less than four championships customer
teams are currently running in front with the Audi R8 LMS: Mark Eddy in Australia,
Bert Longin/Xavier Maassen in Belgium, Greg Franchi in the Blancpain Endurance
Series and Marco Bonanomi/Andrea Sonvico in Italy. In the Portuguese Taca Cup and
in Japan two Audi customer teams have already been determined as the winners this

Quotes after the race
Frank Biela (Audi Sport performance cars R8 LMS #1): “We were a bit unfortunate
today. The only tire failure that has arguably occurred in the top part of the field
today was the one on our car. We caught it just before the end. That’s racing. The
race is only over after 12 hours, and not after 11:40. But it’s been great to take part
in this event again. It was very hard for the drivers and the material. But that’s the
special attraction of this race.”
Marcel Fässler (Audi Sport performance cars R8 LMS #1): “The tire blowout has
been following me since Le Mans. In France we were lucky but here at Sepang it was
really unfortunate. I had to drive a complete lap. I think that otherwise I could have
easily managed to keep our advantage. I didn’t even risk anything but just kept
driving my rhythm. Then the tire quit without any advance notice. Incredible! The
team, my team-mates and the car were very good. We would have certainly
deserved victory. Even after a drive-through penalty at the beginning of the race we
pushed forward again. We also had the quickest pit stop in the field – in other words
everything you need to take victory. It wasn’t meant to be.”
Marco Werner (Audi Sport performance cars R8 LMS #1): “For a long time it was a
pretty good race, as is typical for Audi. We drove good stints and the car was reliable
as usual. It looked like an Audi victory but it’s not over before the checkered flag
comes down. We’ve got to be satisfied with that today.”
Seiji Ara (MediaCorp Audi R8 LMS #2): “We finished fifth today. Unfortunately we
were a bit unlucky in this race. Still: The Audi R8 LMS was very good and absolutely
reliable. We were consistent and the race was fun. I want to thank the team and my

Darryl O’Young (MediaCorp Audi R8 LMS #2): “In an endurance race anything can
happen. At Bathurst in February we had that bit of necessary luck and won with the
R8 LMS. This weekend we were among the front runners. We were in front of our
team-mates and there was only a small gap between us and the leaders. But then
there was the accident on lapping. That’s what makes these races so difficult. The
whole team is naturally disappointed. And then the leading Audi had a tire failure
just before the end to top things off. Being so close to victory and then losing after
all is difficult of course. WRT is a fantastic team. It was a real pleasure. And the R8
LMS was very easy to drive. My thanks go to everyone in the team and to quattro
GmbH for the support.”
Alex Yoong (MediaCorp Audi R8 LMS #2): “Our team is very professional and the
support is outstanding. We only had a short time to get to know each other and yet
it was like being in a large family. Everyone was working for the same goal. I wasn’t
able to do anything when a backbencher hit my car. He was penalized but that
didn’t help me in any way. We lost half an hour. The tire failure on car number one
so shortly before the end was a heart-breaking moment. But that’s how motorsport
can be too.”
Vincent Vosse (Team Director WRT): “An endurance race is always a compromise of
speed, experience, teamwork and the technical reliability of the car. And a bit of luck
is part of it also. And that’s exactly what we were lacking here. We didn’t have the
slightest technical problem with the cars. But just a few minutes before the end we
had the tire failure. That’s a bitter pill. But we must be fair and admit that both
Mercedes were very quick and also had their problems. But even though it’s very
difficult for us, we’ve got to accept the outcome of the race.”

Race results
1 Taniguchi/Yanagida/Ang (Mercedes) 321 laps in 12h 01m 57.624s
2 Biela/Fässler/Werner (Audi R8 LMS) + 1m 10.489s
3 Kataoka/Hairuman/Schneider (Mercedes) – 6 laps
4 Fung/Jones/Asai (Lamborghini) – 11 laps
5 Ara/O’Young/Yoong (Audi R8 LMS) – 14 laps
6 Yu/Li/Johansson (Ford) – 37 laps
7 D’Silva/Fahrizal/Geekie (Aston Martin) – 44 laps
8 Boon/Lek/Soh (Honda) – 47 laps
9 Choong/Koon/Sing (Honda) – 48 laps
10 Lee/Imperatori/Lim (Audi R8 LMS) – 52 laps

Audi Sport.

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