Audi Sport Team Joest had to settle for a third place from the 1000km of Silverstone, differential failure knocking out the no.7 car early on and problems keeping the remaining R15 TDI of Timo Bernhard and Dindo Capello from challenging the Peugeot's ahead.
The Ingolstadt based team had hoped for, and perhaps expected, a better result after their two cars qualified on the front row and the no.7 car, with Allan McNish driving, taking an early lead in a duel with Anthony Davidson in the works Peugeot that didn't last nearly enough. Davidson took the lead in a daring move through the fast Abbey corner and only a few laps later McNish's R15 ground to halt on the approach to Brooklands – the abandonment becoming Audi Sport's first mechanical failure in over four years.
“I'm sure that we would have fought an intensive duel with Peugeot over the whole 1000-kilometer distance,” assured McNish. “But when I entered the new infield section after 15 laps and accelerated, I suddenly had no more propulsion. I still tried to bring the car back to the pits but unfortunately that didn't work. We've won many races thanks to the typical Audi reliability, that's why this retirement comes as a big surprise.”
With their challenge cut in half the team opted for a safe strategy with the remaining Audi R15, deciding to change tyres on the first scheduled pitstop when both Peugeots were able to push on by double stinting their tyres.
The time needed to carry out the service was enough to drop Bernhard and Capello from the back of the Peugeots and an ongoing, and unusual, problem with understeer – which Capello described as the “crucial factor” – kept the pair from re-starting a battle for the podium places, though will doubtless help the team develop the new aerodynamic package they debuted at Silverstone. The car, however, completed the full 1000km distance, the three podium finisher all completing 170 laps.
“This was no easy race,” said Bernhard. “Especially in traffic the situation was tight. You could lose or gain a lot of time there. We didn't make any changes to the car overnight. But the track conditions changed so much that we were struggling with understeer – particularly in traffic. I think for Dindo [Capello]and me it was the maximum we could achieve today.”
“Unfortunately, our track record today was not as good as yesterday's,” Ralf Juttner, the team technical director admitted. “We lost one car very early with a damaged differential – even before the first stop. That was a real shame, considering that the race had actually started tremendously with a fierce fight for the top.”
“The other car drove a good, consistent race, except for too much understeer. But the drivers got used to that as the race progressed and were able to keep up with Peugeot's pace. At the end we had to refuel once more. So there was nothing else we could do. Congratulations to Peugeot. That was a flawless showing. We need to do some more fine-tuning in order to be able to join the fight again at Atlanta [Petit Le Mans, October 2].”