Marcel Fssler achieves new qualifying track record at Sebring
Both hybrid race cars of Audi Sport Team Joest on front row
Tenth pole position in total for Audi at Sebring
The Audi R18 e-tron quattro is causing a sensation on its first racing commitment in the United States. In qualifying for the 12-hour race at Sebring (Florida) both hybrid race cars from Audi Sport Team Joest clearly beat the previous qualifying track record. In the cockpits of the two Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars, Marcel Fssler (CH) and Allan McNish (GB) fought a close duel for the top spot on the grid in the 15-minute qualifying session on Friday afternoon. In the end, the Swiss with a razor-thin advantage of 0.009 seconds prevailed against his Scottish team-mate. The two-time Le Mans winner and current World Endurance Champion took his first pole position in a Le Mans prototype plus his first one as an Audi factory driver. Fssler on his fourth flying lap managed setting a time of 1m 43.886s. The Audi racer thus beat the fastest time of the conventionally powered Audi R18 TDI from last year by almost two secondsas well as the previous qualifying track record set by Marco Werner in 2007 in the Audi R10 TDI (1m 44.974s). At theprovisionallylast last run of an LMP1 sports car at Sebring, Fssler is sharing the cockpit of a 2012-specification R18 with Oliver Jarvis (GB) and Benot Trluyer (F). Lucas di Grassi (BR), Tom Kristensen (DK) and Allan McNish (GB) are driving the 2013-specification Audi R18 e-tron quattro that is celebrating its racing debut in Florida and completed initial test laps in its most current configuration on Monday. An accident by Allan McNish in Thursday mornings free practice cost valuable track time.
For Audi, this marks the tenth pole position in total at 14 events at Sebring. The brand with the four rings has so far won the U.S. endurance classic an equal number of times. In turn 1, Audi is exhibiting four of its Sebring-winning cars this weekend. In addition to the Audi factory drivers who are active at Sebring, four Sebring winnersFrank Biela (D), Dindo Capello (I), Emanuele Pirro (I) and Marco Werner (D)are on location. The 61st running of the 12-hour race at Sebring will start on Saturday at 10:30, local time (15:30 CET).Quotes after qualifyingDr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): Qualifying was a thrilling event because both of our cars were always very close together. The result is a very good starting base for the race. The race though will show us though that the gaps wont remain as comfortable. The two positions on the front row are a nice reward for the commitment of the whole squad and perfect motivation as well.Ralf Jttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): Qualifying yet again showed what weve been seeing here the whole time. Whenever our two cars are out on track together were experiencing a fight in the range of hundredths. Thats nice and promises a thrilling race. Still, weve got to watch out for the competition because the situation can become a lot closer on Saturday. Well need a few hours before knowing how the relative power in the field will pan out then.Marcel Fssler (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): It was a really nice feeling to climb out of the car and see my name at the very top of the time monitor. It was another incredibly close duel between Allan (McNish) and methis time I came out on top in the end. Aside from a thrilling qualifying session, this is obviously a perfect starting base for the race on Saturday. Oliver Jarvis (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): I love motorsport in the USA. I already had a great debut at Daytona and with the pole position of our car here Im experiencing the next highlight right away. But weve still got a lot of work to do. Theres so much that can happen in a 12-hour racenot only with respect to our sister car but also regarding the rest of the competition.Benot Trluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): Simply cool! I like this track and the unique atmosphere here at Sebring. Marcel (Fssler), Oliver (Jarvis) and I simply feel comfortable as a team of threein the car just like in the pits and off the track. It was fun to watch Marcel in qualifying. He gave everything and then got out of the car with a big grin.Lucas di Grassi (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): This is my first ever race weekend in the USA. The whole week has been a great experience and now Im looking forward to the race. For the time being, this will be Audis last run here at Sebring and that makes it a very special event. Ill be giving my best and am happy to have two team-mates in Allan (McNish) and Tom (Kristensen) who have already made history with Audi. Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): Ive got to admit that I feel a bit of sadness thinking about all the years and the races we experienced here at Sebring. This weekend well be saying goodbye for the moment. Theres a great race ahead of us with strong competition, above all of course our sister car. Were lacking a bit of driving time from Thursday plus I only arrived at Sebring at the last momentstill, Im confident that weve got a good chance of winning here on Audis last run.Allan McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): What a qualifying session! Although we expected it to turn into a duel between the two Audi cars we wouldnt have thought that the outcome would be this close. The conditions on the track have continuously improved since yesterday so that I was able to really push. The starting grid at Sebring1 Fssler/Jarvis/Trluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 1m 43.886s 2 di Grassi/Kristensen/McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 1m 43.895s3 Prost/Heidfeld/Jani (Lola-Toyota) 1m 46.456s4 Graf/Luhr/Dumas (HPD-Honda) 1m 46.478s5 Beche/Cheng/Belicchi (Lola-Toyota) 1m 46.689s6 Dyson/Smith/Leitzinger (Lola-Mazda) 1m 48.407s7 Tucker/Franchitti/Briscoe (HPD-Honda) 1m 51.159s8 Tucker/Hunter-Reay/Pagenaud (HPD-Honda) 1m 51.271s9 Kimber-Smith/Zugel/Lux (Zytek) 1m 51.366s10 Sharp/Cosmo/Brabham (HPD-Honda) 1m 52.703s