Audi will start their FIA World Endurance Championship title defense from third and fifth position after a tough qualifying session saw rivals Toyota gain the opening advantage.
With a 20 minute session for two drivers to get at least two flying laps in the teams had little room for error as the new qualifying format made its debut. Unfortunately for the #1 car a software malfunction lead to loss of traction control for Benoit Treluyer during his opening run, leaving the team and Andre Lotterer to make the most of the remaining session. Lotterer would make a valiant effort and finished with the third-fastest time on his first outing, unfortunately the final positions are decided on an average time of both drivers, leaving the champions in fifth position.
Treluyer commented “Unfortunately, there was a small software problem with the traction control so that I wasn’t able to perfectly accelerate. We’re going to analyze the error in detail.
“It’s nice that André Lotterer caught up again with excellent times” he added.
Lotterer commented “I was driving on untreaded intermediate tires on a relatively dry track. The times were good and we were able to reduce our gap.”
With it all to do the German remained positive, adding “We’re in for a long race and we know how fast our car is.”
Loic Duval and Tom Kristensen managed to set a time of 1:51.283 average with a mixture of treaded and intermediate tyres, this time was good enough for the #2 Audi to start from third place.
“I was driving in relatively heavy traffic plus rain set in” said Duval. “After we changed to rain tires the track dried off surprisingly fast. With only 20 minutes of time for two drivers we didn’t have a chance to make another tire choice.”
Team-mate Kristensen was slightly happier but did feel he could have done better. “My car was very good when I caught a Toyota on my second lap and lost time. I even drove another lap but the tires had already gone past their best point.”
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich added “Our grid positions aren’t ideal but at a 6-hour race the starting positions aren’t the most important thing.”