Second place for Di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis in FIA WEC at the NürburgringFässler/Lotterer on podium in third placeMarcel Fässler with fastest race lap
Audi started the 6 Hours of Nürburgring from positions one and two on the grid. In a thrilling battle for the lead in round four of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), the two Audi R18 cars initially took turns at the front of the field. In the end, Audi Sport Team Joest achieved positions two and three – a caution period in the third hour of the race having deprived the squad of the chance to clinch its second victory of the season.
58,000 spectators watched one of the most riveting WEC races in the 2016 season. After Olympic ski gold medalist and Audi guest Maria Höfl-Riesch had waved the green starting flag, Marcel Fässler (CH) in the number 7 Audi R18 took the lead. Following the first driver change, it was Oliver Jarvis’s (GB) turn: In the second hour of the race, the Briton, in a close battle for the lead, was barely in front of the sister car. However, in the third hour of the race, events took an unfortunate turn. Both Audi cars had just finished pitting for the third time when the race was yellow-flagged following an accident. Due to its larger fuel tank capacity, Porsche was able to pit later and gained a major time advantage during the caution period. Following the caution period, Lucas di Grassi (BR) was trailing the race leader by 24 seconds and Marcel Fässler was lacking 29 seconds.
“We had the better lap times but the caution period unfortunately caused us to lose ground. What we saw on track afterwards was really great racing,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. Both driver squads managed to make up ground again. Di Grassi and his teammates Loïc Duval (F) and Oliver Jarvis in the duel with the number 2 Porsche improved to second place and, as a result, managed to reduce their deficit in the drivers’ world championship by six points. André Lotterer (D) in the Audi R18 fought a spectacular head-to-head battle with Neel Jani in the last hour as well and outperformed the Swiss in the race for the podium. Marcel Fässler, on setting the fastest race lap, underlined the strength of the R18 this weekend.
“Congratulations to our driver squads and the entire team who never gave up even though the gaps were really large at times,” said Dr. Ullrich. Stefan Dreyer, Head of LMP at Audi Sport, added: “The FIA WEC was perfect advertising for endurance racing in Germany once more and the response by the fans was tremendous again in the second running of this race. We were in contention for victory today. The trackside squad and the teams in Neuburg and Neckarsulm did a superb job.” The FIA WEC has now become firmly established in Germany and will return to the Nürburgring from July 14 to 16 next year.
Following a break in August, the fifth of nine FIA WEC races will be held on September 3. The Audi drivers are already looking forward to the premiere of the racing series in Mexico City where motorsport meets with an enthusiastic audience.
1 Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (Porsche) 194 laps
2 Di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis (Audi R18) +53.787s
3 Fässler/Lotterer (Audi R18) +54.483s
4 Dumas/Jani/Lieb (Porsche) +1m 37.324s
5 Buemi/Davidson/Nakajima (Toyota) –1 lap
6 Conway/Kobayashi/Sarrazin (Toyota) –4 laps
7 Imperatori/Kraihamer/Tuscher (Rebellion) –16 laps
8 Lapierre/Menezes/Richelmi (Alpine) –16 laps
9 Albuquerque/Gonzalez/Senna (Ligier-Nissan) –16 laps
10 Cumming/Dalziel/Derani (Ligier-Nissan) –18 laps
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “The second half of the year started really well for us. Our new car has great potential. First, we took pole position, then we were continually at the very front of the field in the race, plus we set the fastest race lap as well – that was a class act. Victory was within reach. Positions two and three are a good sign that we’re in contention. That’s the basis for our battle for the championship in the next five races.”
Stefan Dreyer (Head of LMP): “The race was superb for the spectators. Two Audi driver teams on the podium is a good result. The full-course-yellow period about halfway through the race was our major misfortune. But we saw how fast our car can be. The trackside squad and the teams in Neuburg and Neckarsulm were simply exemplary. Now we’re going to thoroughly analyze the entire race and look forward to Mexico.”
Ralf Jüttner (Team Director Audi Sport Team Joest): “When you start from positions one and two you don’t want to arrive in second and third place. But it was a good team result that will help us in the championship. Thank you to everyone for the hard work. In the race, both cars were running impeccably. There’s still more potential in the Audi R18 that we’re going to need for the rest of the season. We still have to work a little on our pit stops and on the consistency of our car across six hours of racing.”
Lucas di Grassi (Audi R18 #8): “We can be happy with our second place. We made no mistakes and constantly drove at the limit. When you’re on the front row you’d obviously like to win. But today we were lacking the necessary fortune. That’s why positions two and three for our team is okay.”
Loïc Duval (Audi R18 #8): “That we’re obviously well prepared for the second half of the season and fast are positives. Our race was good but we were lacking a little racing fortune. My teammates Olly and Lucas were fast. Unfortunately, we lost a little aerodynamic downforce during the race. Our goal was to stay in front of the number 2 Porsche. We did a good job of defending ourselves. Porsche was simply fortunate on the way to clinching victory.”
Oliver Jarvis (Audi R18 #8): “This second place after a fantastic race almost feels a little like a victory. The whole team deserves a good result. At the beginning, we were really fast and towards the end our lap times weren’t quite as good. We made a strong showing again after Le Mans and scored important points. It’s still going to be an interesting season.”
Marcel Fässler (Audi R18 #7): “The beginning of the race was great fun and went superbly. We were leading but then the aerodynamics at the front of the car slightly deteriorated. That’s why we changed the nose and André was able to attack again. His battle with Neel Jani may have been the best thing that fans have seen this year. It’s nice that we were good again after Le Mans. We’re pleased to take the trophy home but plan to be even better next time.”
André Lotterer (Audi R18 #7): “My teammate Marcel started the race superbly. The two of us took turns and in the end it was really thrilling once more. Those were nice position battles. As a team we worked together well today too, which is very important for Audi Sport. Now I’m looking forward to Mexico. Hopefully, Benoît Tréluyer will be fit again by that time so that the three of us can attack again.”