What a surprize. The highly advanced and awesome new race car that Audi developed but isn’t going to run very much totally kicked ass this weekend and won its maiden race at The 12 Hours Of Sebring event over the weekend. Hopefully this will convince the top Audi brass to give their motorsport division the cash to run the car for the rest of the ALMS season!
Perfect debut for the Audi R15 TDI
– New Audi wins 12 Hours of Sebring (USA)
– Fastest Sebring race ever
– Audi also wins efficiency award
INGOLSTADT/SEBRING, Mar 22, 2009 – The Audi R15 TDI has defeated its competition in its debut race: Dindo Capello (Italy), Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland) achieved a historic victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring (US state of Florida) with the new diesel-powered sports car of AUDI AG. The Audi drivers completed 383 laps – beating the previous distance record by an impressive 13 laps.
In the fastest ever Sebring race, Audi Sport Team Joest’s pair of Audi R15 TDI prototypes ran the entire distance without technical problems despite the innovative Le Mans prototype having only completed its maiden run in December. Bad weather had hampered Audi Sport’s test program and temperatures never exceeded 15 degrees during the tests in Europe.
At Sebring, the Audi crew faced ambient temperatures almost double that and worked day and night to learn more about the new diesel sports car and to adapt it to the extremely bumpy race track in the center of Florida. They were able to solve all minor teething troubles which arose just in time for race day.
In the race the new Audi R15 TDI proved fast from the very beginning: Allan McNish outpaced the pole sitting Acura/Honda at the start completing the first lap with more than five seconds advantage. Later, however, it was not the Acura/Hondas which were the cars to beat but the two Peugeot 908s. The lead swapped no fewer than twelve times among the diesel-powered prototypes from Audi and Peugeot. Over long periods of the race, the four leading prototypes were covered by just a few tenths of a second.
In the exciting final stages of the race Allan McNish was able to fully exploit the optimized weight distribution and the sophisticated aerodynamics of the new R15 TDI compared to its predecessor, the R10 TDI. He was able to open such a big lead that he was able to stop for a ‘splash-and-dash’ just before the end of the race without losing the lead. He eventually crossed the finish line 22.279 seconds in front of the second placed Peugeot.
It was the ninth overall victory for the Audi brand at Sebring continuing an impressive series: After the Audi R8 (2000) and the Audi R10 TDI (2006) a new Le Mans prototype from Audi drove to victory in its debut race at Sebring for the third time. Tom Kristensen scored his fifth victory in the US endurance classic becoming the most successful driver in the history of the race. Dindo Capello won at Sebring for a fourth time with Allan McNish chalking up his third victory.
The Audi success at Sebring was completed by the three Germans Lucas Luhr, Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Werner finishing third at the wheel of the second Audi R15 TDI. Luhr and Rockenfeller had to complete almost the whole race on their own after Marco Werner had to be sidelined due to a rib injury. They kept contact with the leading sister car for a long time. Only in the final stages did they dropped back due to extreme pick-up on the front right tire which forced Lucas Luhr to pit an extra time just before the end of the race. It was the only unscheduled pit stop of the day for Audi Sport Team Joest.
The Audi R15 TDI was not only the most reliable and fastest prototype on its debut but also the most efficient: Audi celebrated a clear 1-2 victory in the so-called “Michelin Green X Challenge” in which the fuel consumption is measured in relation to the performance.
For Audi, the 12 Hours of Sebring was a dress rehearsal for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in which a total of three new R15 TDI prototypes will compete. An intensive test program is scheduled for Audi Sport Team Joest until the race on June 13/14.