Audi put a seemingly inconsequential pitbox allocation at the root of their poor luck in qualifying for the 6 Hours of Silverstone.
The team – running as no.1 and no.2 following their victory at the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans – are pitted at the very start of the new pitlane at the Northamptonshire track – and that draw prevented Timo Bernhard and Allan McNish from being among the first cars to take to the track for the qualifying session.
Their relatively late appearance on the track became even more of an issue when rain started to fall as McNish came to complete his second lap. The Scot has gone second fastest, nine tenths behind the leading Peugeot with his first flying lap and – after setting the best time in the sector timing sector of the lap – was set to go faster on his second lap. However, he ran into rain around Stowe and the final complex at Club.
“Qualifying went well with respect to the car's performance capability and the feeling for it,” said McNish. “Naturally it was a bit frustrating that the weather didn't cooperate. But that was the same for everyone in the field. The first fast lap was relatively free, on the second one there was heavy rain in Stowes Corner and in the last turn. Without that, more would have been possible. I'm going into the race tomorrow with a positive feeling.”
Likewise Bernhard – driving the no.1 car he will share with Marcel Fassler during the race – was unable to move up from fourth fastest, he more than McNish also having to contend with slower traffic during his flying laps.
“On both of the two timed laps when the track offered the highest grip level I had to overtake two or three cars,” he said after the session. “At the end of my third flying lap the rain was really pouring down. It wasn't possible to improve any more. So we were a bit unfortunate. But I think we can make up for that in the race – because our performance is right.”
The team's technical director Ralf Juttner dismissed the session as “a lottery”.
“The rain started right in time for qualifying,” he continued. “We had the option to use several sets of tires but just getting one set up to heat was difficult enough. Maybe we went out a tiny bit too late so that the track was already too moist. We went out one minute after the session had started – that was the minute that was lacking in the end. Allan McNish caught a good lap while Timo Bernhard was a bit unfortunate with traffic. He didn't hit the narrow window in which fast laps were possible. But all in all we don't have a bad starting base on the two front rows, particularly as the drivers are very pleased with the set-up of their cars.”
The 6 Hours of Silverstone is scheduled to start at 11:35am