Once again, Audi Sport Team Joest was unbeatable in Belgium for the 2nd round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the 2015 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. The #7 Audi won the race, with the #9 4th and #8 finishing 7th.
The #7 team of Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer won the opening round at Silverstone on April 12, and repeated their success to take another win yesterday at Spa-Francorchamps, putting them in a fantastic position for the next race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The #7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro started yesterday’s 6 hour race from 4th position, but managed to stay as close as possible to the front runners at the start, and soon made their way up to 3rd. Despite Fässler spinning, the car didn’t lose to much position and soon made a quick recovery.
Four hours into the race, it was André Lotterer who took the Audi into the lead for the first time. This lead changed with each pitstop, proving how important strategy is in the WEC. With 90 minutes to go, Tréluyer took the lead from the #18 Porsche of Marc Lieb, benefitting from the Audi’s new Le Mans-spec aerodynamics setup.
After 6 hours of thrilling racing, the Frenchman took the chequered flag with a lead of just 13.424 seconds.
“What a race,” Tréluyer said. “It was a tough lights-to-flag job, just like at Silverstone, but it was huge fun and we’re already looking forward to Le Mans.”
At the start of the race, the #8 Audi of Loïc Duval improved to second position, but an electrical problem cost him and his teammates, Lucas di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis, several minutes. Towards the end of the race, Jarvis slid into a gravel trap, ending his team’s race.
“We showed a good pace and are taking that home as a positive from Spa,” said Loïc Duval. “Of course it’s a shame that we lost ground due to some issues. But I’m still optimistic that our run of bad luck is going to end at Le Mans.”
Audi entered a third car for this race. The #9 of Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and René Rast raced yesterday in preparation for Audi’s three-car assault at Le Mans. This R18 ran with a higher downforce setup than the other two Audis, a setup that had already been used at Silverstone, whilst the other cars practiced the Le Mans low downforce spec.
The #9 was running well for the first half of the race, until it lost its left-hand side window which required a pit stop to replace the door. By the end of the race, the car had improved to 4th place, just missing out on the podium.
“Driving the Audi R18 e-tron quattro in a race for the first time was awesome,” Rast said. “We delivered a result that I’m very happy with. Now our next big task is coming up at Le Mans.”
In four weeks’ time, the official test day will take place at Le Mans, with the 24 hour race scheduled for June 13/14.