Loïc Duval and his Audi Sport crew-mates Tom Kristensen and Lucas di Grassi head to Bahrain this weekend seeking a return to the podium after the reigning world champions were unable to fight at the front during the 6 Hours of Shanghai (October 31– November 2).
Representing round six of this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), the Chinese event found Duval in good spirits, though he was unable to shake off a sense of frustration. As an Audi Sport factory driver, reigning world champion and Le Mans 24 Hours winner, he could not feel content with his fifth place finish.
“Tom, Lucas and I, as well as our engineers and mechanics, all delivered a flawless race,” Duval explained afterwards. “I enjoyed my time aboard the #1 R18 e-tron quattro. Early on, André [Lotterer in the sister #2 car] and I were very close on-track. Then I gained the upper hand during my second stint and caught the #14 Porsche. We had an intense scrap which lasted for much of the race, but it was always clear that we were not fighting for the win. I never climb into the car looking to settle for an honourable mention; at Audi, we can’t be happy with fifth.”
Shanghai International Circuit features slow corners and long straights, which does not represent the ideal layout for the Audi R18 e-tron quattro. Thanks to its formidable aerodynamics, the Ingolstadt marque’s prototype is at its best in fast, sweeping corners.
“The performance was better in China than at Fuji, but we still struggled to unlock our pace both over one lap and a whole stint,” Duval added. “We suffered from a hybrid-system power deficit compared to our rivals. They also have a bigger fuel tank which allowed them to save a pit-stop thanks to the lengthy Safety Car period at the start of the race.”
But it takes far more to faze Duval and the Audi Sport team. This weekend the Frenchman and his crew-mates will be at Bahrain International Circuit where they will be targeting a podium – and perhaps even a return to winning ways.
“The temperatures will be higher in Bahrain and the track features medium and high-speed corners, so it will suit our car better,” explained a positive Duval. “We know it will be tough, but we’ll fight until the end to make sure both line-ups finish as high as possible in the standings. And so long as the Manufacturers’ title remains theoretically possible we’ll give our all to help Audi seal the crown. We are approaching this weekend’s race with renewed motivation and hoping to spring a surprise.”
After his experience in Shanghai, Duval is determined not to leave Bahrain empty-handed.
Round seven of the FIA World Endurance Championship – the 6 Hours of Bahrain – takes place on November 13-15. It will be broadcast live on the official FIA WEC website
FIA World Endurance Championship Classification:
Manufacturers’ Championship1. Toyota: 226 points2. Audi: 197 points3. Porsche: 133 points
Drivers’ Championship1. Davidson/Buemi: 147 points2. Tréluyer/Fässler/Lotterer: 105 points3. Lapierre: 96 points4. Kristensen/Di Grassi: 92 points…8. Duval: 56 points