Audi achieved a historic milestone at the Texan debut of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Austin. Audi celebrated their 100th overall victory of an LMP sports car of the brand. The event has a parallel, as Audi had clinched its first-ever victory in America as well, that tine at Sebring, on March 18th, 2000. Back then and today, it was Audi Sport Team Joest that fielded the victorious race car and like today, Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen was part of the successful Audi driver squad.
With an air temperature of 28 degrees centigrade and track temperature of 45 in Texas, Audi managed top performance, as the brand remains unbeaten in the current WEC season. Loïc Duval, Tom Kristensen & Allan McNish celebrated their third WEC victory this year on the demanding ‘Circuit of the Americas.’ The trio had previously won the season opener at Silverstone and the Le Mans 24 Hours. The number ‘2’ Audi R18 e-tron quattro crossed the finish line with a 23 second advantage in front of the nearest challenger of Toyota. For the brand with the four rings, this marked an amazing fifth victory in an equal number of WEC rounds this year and the sixth LMP win in succession, if the triumph at the Sebring 12 Hours in March is included in the tally.
In addition to driving skills, tactical intelligence was crucial, as contrary to common practice at other events, not every tyre change was accompanied by a driver change. As a result, the Audi drivers remaining in the cockpit immediately and consistently converted the reserves of the tyres from partner Michelin into excellent lap times, as they were able to continue their race rhythm unchanged.
The successful run of car number ‘2’ was contrasted by the misfortunes of the number ‘1’ car, driven by Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer & Benoît Tréluyer. In the early phase of the six-hour race, Fässler became entangled in several tough positional battles with Toyota. This subsequently resulted in a whole series of setbacks. The Audi was forced to change a damaged rear diffuser. The hard impact following a collision additionally caused an electrical fuse to come loose. As a result, the electrical gearshift of the transmission could not be operated at times and the problem had to be corrected during an additional stop. To top things off, a piece of loose artificial turf got stuck on the car’s underbody during an evasive off-track manoeuvre in the commotion. The mechanics removed it during a pit stop, as the piece of turf obstructed the flow of cooling air. Benoît Tréluyer subsequently started a recovery & drove the fastest race lap but, in the process, ran over the track boundaries once. Thus, to make matters worse, car number ‘1’ received a drive-through penalty. In the end, last year’s World Champions had to settle for third place at Austin.
In the standings, the Austin winners increased their lead. Duval, Kristensen & McNish had arrived in Texas with a 22-point advantage and are now travelling to the next round in Japan with a 33-point advantage. On October 20th, the sixth of eight rounds in the FIA World Championship (WEC) will take place at Fuji.