Audi Sport Team Joest are heralding themselves winners of race before the race” after an impressive performance by the team's mechanics rebuilt the no.7 Audi R15 TDI after Dindo Capello had damaged the car in the final practice session.
The Italian had come off the track at turn three, and the resulting trip across a particularly savage field bent the front of the car under the chassis, damaging the left-hand side of the monocoque and handing the Ingolstadt based team a sizable task to replace the monocoque in time for the qualifying session.
It was a task the team completed in just four-and-a-half hours, allowing Capello to drive the car into the pitlane to an appreciative round of applause from onlookers at the Georgia track.
“I've got to really congratulate the crew,” said Capello. “To prepare such a heavily damaged car again in such a short time is really exceptional. It shows yet again why we've won so many races and championships with this team. These guys are simply great.”
“Of course the car didn't have optimal balance in qualifying and was difficult to drive. The lap time I was able to drive under these conditions makes me optimistic for tomorrow. Now we need to correct a few minor things, put the car on the measurement platform and then we should be able to attack tomorrow.”
He went on to claim the fourth fastest time in the session, just under a second shy of the pole time set by Peugeot driver Anthony Davidson and half a second behind Benoit Treluyer's effort in the other Audi, good enough for third fastest.
“I drove a qualifying in a prototype for the first time,” said the Frenchman. “I enjoyed it, it was fun. We notably improved the car between this morning and this afternoon. The car was good to drive in qualifying and more stable at the rear than it had been in the previous sessions. I was able to attack and came close to the times posted by the Peugeots. I'm pleased.”
“This was a very strong team performance,” enthused Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich, the head of Audi Motorsport. “After the accident in free practice this morning it didn't look like we'd be going into qualifying with two cars. But the team did an incredibly good job of working together. It concentrated on properly preparing the car again for the race. That they even managed to get the car ready for qualifying is an exceptional feat for which the squad deserves a round of resounding applause. We're on positions three and four of the grid with a little less than a half-second gap. With such small gaps you can go into a 10-hour race and try to convert it into a victory.”