Audi Sport Team Joest left the Le Mans test day satisfied after setting the fastest time of the day and gaining valuable knowledge about the track and their cars before the 24 Hours of Le Mans later this month (June 16-17).
“We did a good job of completing our program,” said team technical director Ralf JÃ¼ttner. “Fortunately, it was dry most of the time because you can hardly test tires in rain showers. The tire program was one of the major items on our task list.”
“Both vehicle types, the R18 e-tron quattro and the ultra, were running well. Toyota's first public appearance deserves respect. Our competitor was immediately fast and completed a lot of laps. We're pleased and can prepare for the race weekend.”
As well as tyre testing the team were able to work through suspension and aerodynamic set-up as well as running both specifications – the R18 Ultra and R18 e-tron quattro – on varying fuel loads. Marco Bonanomi – the only Le Mans rookie in Audi's four car team – also qualified himself for the race by completing the minimum necessary ten laps in the no.4 car he shares with British driver Oliver Jarvis.
“This was a tremendous experience,” said the Italian. “It was nice for me to be able to do so many laps at Le Mans for the first time in my life. We learned a lot and varied the set-up. The direction of our development is right. In the morning I felt particularly comfortable and the lap times were easy to achieve. Of course I've got to get to know the track first. We're ready for the race. Audi is very good, and Toyota not far away. That's nice for the fans and not easy for us.”
In their first competitive running the Toyota's were faster than the Bonanomi/Jarvis entry and less than 1.5 seconds away from the fastest lap of the day (3:25.927), set by Allan McNish in the no.2 e-tron quattro. The Scot's test day, however, ended prematurely with a spin into the barriers at Tertre Rouge.
He explained; “as always, grip was low on the dirty track at the beginning of the test day. I drove fast and consistent lap times. Unfortunately, toward the end while entering Tertre Rouge I briefly touched the grass, spun 360 degrees and touched the guard rails. That unfortunately ended the day but we've got a good starting point for the race week. Balance of the R18 e-tron quattro is very good.”
Defending Le Mans winners Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer were a half second behind in the second hybrid car, the no.3 car a further tenth of a second back ahead of the two Toyotas.