Benoit Treluyer, Marcel Fassler and Oliver Jarvis added an eleventh 12 Hours of Sebring victory to Audi’s metaphorical mantelpiece on the last running of the race – for the foreseeable future – open to LMP1 machinery.
The last race before the event becomes part of the United SportsCar Racing series next year was the first outing in the US for Audi’s R18 e-tron quattro hybrid race car, with two of the cars entered in the race for the victorious trio and Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Lucas di Grassi.
“That was a perfect finale!” said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, the head of Audi Motorsport. “I’m very happy about this one-two victory in a race in which both of our cars battled against each other all the way to the finish and delivered a fantastic show to the many fans. The entire squad worked hard, so winning after a long twelve hours is the sweetest reward. After victories with TFSI and TDI technology, Audi on clinching the win today with a hybrid car has continued the success story at this race.”
The two cars fought over the lead throughout the race, di Grassi and Jarvis making contact at one, no doubt nervous, moment at turn 17 with di Grassi taking the lead in one of 20 lead changes the two cars shared between them as they outclassed their petrol fuelled P1 rivals. The Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota team that completed the podium behind the two Audis did so having completed five fewer laps than the two R18s that finished just seven seconds apart with Treluyer leading Kristensen across the line.
“We won the last race of the LMP1 sports cars at Sebring – we’re very proud of this,” said Treluyer. “I think that the fans witnessed a thrilling race in which we had to give one hundred per cent to beat our sister car. For us the American dream has come true today. Thank you to Marcel and Oliver for a great week here at Sebring. Normally, André [Lotterer] is part of our team as well – I’m sure that he’d have been on top of the podium here too.”
“Celebrating Audi’s last race here at Sebring with a victory is simply fantastic,” echoed teammate Fassler, who ensured the #1 car started from pole position in Friday’s qualifying session. “It was an incredibly close race in which both cars would have deserved to win. In the end, we were the slightly more fortunate ones. The pole position yesterday, victory today, great team-mates – things couldn’t be any better today.”
Their drive to victory was not entirely trouble free. The undertray of the car was visibly flapping during the race, though the problem was fixed simply with minimal loss of time in two scheduled pitstops.
Ultimately the older 2012-spec e-tron quattro beat the updated 2013 car, but it is the 2013 variant that will carry Audi’s name for the rest of the year, representing the manufacturer in the FIA World Endurance Championship, beginning at Silverstone on April 14.