Audi ended their Championship winning season with its fifteenth podium in eight races, admitting defeat for only the second time of the year to Toyota.
Up until the mid-point of the race, World Champions Loic Duval, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish were hunting the leading Toyota, sitting just 15 seconds behind. However, 95 laps in to the race Duval reported a problem in the power transmission over the radio, resulting in the #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro to retire from the race.
“As expected, a fierce battle with Toyota ensued,” said Duval. “Tom Kristensen was driving a strong stint and then I took over. It was a strategically interesting race. Unfortunately, a problem in the power transmission system occurred which meant the end of our race.”
The retirement meant it was the first time in 23 races that the various R18 models have competed in since 2011, a technical fault had caused the team to pull out of the race. Following the #2’s retirement, team-mates Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer inherited second position.
Any hopes of the #1 Audi taking on the leading Toyota were dashed after three and a half hours of racing when the stewards handed Fassler a drive-through penalty for overtaking under yellow flags. The drive-through cost the trio over a minute, forcing them to settle for second at the chequered flag.
“Naturally, we’d have liked to have won this race too but the competition was very strong today,” said Fassler. “We changed our strategy during the course of the race and I drove two stints on one set of tires. Unfortunately, the outcome wasn’t the way we’d hoped for because the tire grip had degraded by the end. But we simply had to take a risk. We all battled hard for victory. On the whole, we had a great season which the entire Audi team can be proud of.”
Despite the technical issue on car #2, Audi rounded out a strong 2013 in Bahrain, a year that saw the team defend both its Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ titles, although with different names taking the latter. 2013 also saw Audi take its twelfth Le Mans 24 Hour victory, its eleventh win at the Sebring 12 Hours and take the prestigious Tourist Trophy at Silverstone.
“We can be very pleased with the season,” concluded Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Motorsport. “We won the World Championship and the Le Mans 24 Hours and showed superb races. That it wasn’t enough today was a bit of a shame. But Toyota was simply stronger here. Unfortunately, a R18 e-tron quattro retired with a technical defect for the first time in its last race of all races. But this only shows how reliable our cars have always been up to now.”
There is little time for celebration, though, with the team getting straight to work ahead of the 2014 season. New regulations for next season means that Audi is developing an all-new car for 2014, making its debut at the WEC season opener at Silverstone in April.