• Audi R8 LMS cars to start from positions three and six• Le Mans winner Marcel Fässler sets best time of all Audi drivers• Belgian Audi Club mainly focused on race preparation
Team WRT (Belgian Audi Club) has achieved a good starting base with its two Audi R8 LMS cars for the 12-hour race at Sepang, not only due to the grid positions: Frank Biela/Marcel Fässler/Marco Werner managed to set the third-best time overall in qualifying. Their teammates Seiji Ara/Darryl O’Young/Alex Yoong took sixth place. Prior to the race, both squads have worked out a set-up to suit the unusually tough demands of the 12-hour competition.
The qualifying format that is not used in Europe already caused a high level of suspense. Every racer drove his own qualifying session. The aggregate of the respective fastest times set by the three drivers determined the grid positions.
Marcel Fässler achieved the best lap time of all six Audi drivers at 2m 05.728s. In hisR8 LMS he also drove the third-best time in his session. The second-fastest lapwithin the Audi driver squad was achieved by his team-mate Marco Werner at noonin 2m 06.257s.
However, the work of the WRT team was centered on a much more important task.With ambient temperatures of 35 degrees centigrade and track temperatures ofabout 50 degrees the team had to find a set-up for the 520-HP Audi R8 LMS that iseasy on the material yet allows fast lap times. The tires and brakes are considered tobe under particularly high stress on the 5.543-kilometer GP circuit near the equator.By simulating various stints the squad of team director Vincent Vosse managed tofind an ideal compromise for the set-up under the high thermal loads.The 12-hour race starts on Saturday at 12:00 local time (6:00 a.m. Central Europeantime) and lasts 12 hours. Jürgen Pippig
Quotes after qualifyingFrank Biela (Audi Sport performance cars R8 LMS #1): “This was not completelysatisfactory. I‘d thought that a bit more would be possible. I had oversteer whenturning into the corner. We tried out various things because the weather keptchanging a bit. Sometimes the track was moist and had no grip and then the gripwould be a bit higher again. Since Tuesday we’ve been working on a set-up thatshould function well across the whole distance.”
Marcel Fässler (Audi Sport performance cars R8 LMS #1): “I drove the firstqualifying session today. My session was pretty good. I felt comfortable in the AudiR8 LMS. I managed a more or less flawless lap. I wasn’t one-hundred-percentsatisfied with the balance of the car in qualifying but instead we should be preparedfor the race even the better.”
Marco Werner (Audi Sport performance cars R8 LMS #1): “My second outing wasthe best one because this set of tires was perfectly heated. I really felt comfortablewith it. These tires had more grip than the first set right from the beginning. I drovemy best time on this set although I ran up to a car in front of me in the last turn. Onthe whole I’m pleased. I’ve never set such a fast lap on this circuit, neither last yearnor this year. I’m well sorted for the race. And my team-mate Frank Biela workedout a good set-up for the race due to his work since Tuesday.”
Seiji Ara (MediaCorp Audi R8 LMS #2): “When I went out as the first driver of ourAudi R8 LMS I had two new sets of tires available to me. On the first set the car wasundersteering in fast turns. Then we made a change for the second trial. Theundersteer was no longer as troubling as before but instead the car tended tooversteer a bit in slow turns. That’s why I wasn’t quicker. That wasn’t perfect,unfortunately. But basically the Audi R8 LMS functions very well and I’ll be givingeverything in the race.”
Darryl O’Young (MediaCorp Audi R8 LMS #2): “Qualifying was okay. Unfortunately,I made a mistake on my first trial in the penultimate corner. The car wasoversteering there and I lost a couple of tenths. On my second outing a car in frontof me spun. Both of my best laps were about equally fast. It’s too bad that I wasn’table to improve. Still, we’ve got a decent grid position for the race.”
Alex Yoong (MediaCorp Audi R8 LMS #2): “We’re well prepared for the race. But Ican’t deny my disappointment about qualifying. All drivers of the #2 Audi R8 LMSwere sure that more would have been possible today. Balance wasn’t bad but wecouldn’t make perfect use of the tires. Grip was simply not good enough. Before mytrial in the third session it had been raining a bit. Two days ago we were half asecond faster on old tires at higher temperatures. But we’re well prepared for therace. At this event you’ve got to really make sparing use of your brakes and tires.”
Vincent Vosse (Team Director WRT): “We systematically prepared for the race andare starting from rows two and three. I’ve got to admit though that we’ve seensome really fast competitors in qualifying. Our drivers did an absolutely thoroughjob and continuously improved the two Audi R8 LMS cars. The car has been set upvery well for the long distance. Twelve hours are a long time and a lot can happen.On Saturday it will be crucial to drive a flawless race with a homogeneous squad inthe full field here.”
Qualifying results1 Kataoka/Hairuman/Schneider (Mercedes) 6m 16.346s2 Taniguchi/Yanagida/Ang (Mercedes) 6m 17.231s3 Biela/Fässler/Werner (Audi R8 LMS) 6m 18.421 s4 Sun/Bruni/Griffin (Ferrari) 6m 18.829s5 Lung/Sawa/Schwager (Lamborghini) 6m 19.413s6 Ara/O’Young/Yoong (Audi R8 LMS) 6m 19.753s7 Yu/Li/Johansson (Ford) 6m 22.946s8 Lee/Imperatori/Lim (Audi R8 LMS) 6m 24.476s9 Fung/Jones/Asai (Lamborghini) 6m 24.662s10 Engstler/Kraihamer/Romanov (BMW) 6m 31.997s