Despite wholesale setup changes and an eleventh hour driver change Dindo Capello was able to qualify the Audi R15 'Plus' on the front row in its racing debut.
The achievement follows a month of testing straddling the Atlantic Ocean including Homestead, Sebring and Monza. However qualifying still saw the team searching for the correct setup for the 20 minute session at Paul Ricard's Le Castellet circuit, even going so far as to change settings during the session.
“We had some difficulties to find a good setup for the R15 plus for this race track and we have not yet found it,” explains Audi Sport head Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich. “The team even tried something different in qualifying as the drivers were not happy at all with the car in the morning.”
“I'm quite happy because the car improved compared to the morning practice. Qualifying was like a fourth free practice session for us which we used to test further changes,” says Capello, whose fastest lap was just over four-tenths shy of the pole sitting Team ORECA Peugeot 908. “These adjustments improved the car. But on this track the tire works just for one or two really fast laps. After the changes I was faster in some corners on the used tires than before with the fresh rubber. This means we improved the car. So I have more confidence for the race tomorrow.”
“The R15 plus is still very new to us,” admits Allan McNish. “We are learning quite a lot. In every session we build up more knowledge about how the car is. The car is obviously quite quick but we need to understand the car and make it more comfortable to drive and consistent to drive over a race distance. But that you can really only do with kilometers and with the races.”
The team also today confirmed that McNish and Capello will tackle the eight hour race with intended teammate Tom Kristensen, who after consulting team physician Dr. Christian John has elected not to take part in the race. The exact reason for the choice is unknown.
Photo Credit: Audi Motorsport