Audi began the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in great style. The two Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars dominated the Silverstone 6 Hours and deservingly clinched a one-two victory. For Audi, following the one-two result in the (non-WEC) 12 Hours of Sebring in last month, this marked their second sports car success this year.
For the first time, Audi also won the famous RAC Tourist Trophy. The tradition-steeped trophy that has been awarded since 1905, was the main prize for the 2013 WEC opening event. Allan McNish was pleased to win this important motorsport trophy at his “home” round. Together with Tom Kristensen he was on the grid for the first time with his new Audi team-mate Loïc Duval. The trio is now leading the WEC drivers’ standings with a seven-point advantage after one race. It took until the fifth hour of the race, after 151 laps, for them to take the lead. Despite an excursion while lapping another car and an additional tyre change McNish went on to recover the lead and crossed the finish line with a 3.4-second advantage.
From the start, a thrilling battle had ensued with Audi’s nearest challenger Toyota. However, Allan McNish, in the number 2 Audi, grabbed the lead for the first time on the sixth lap. The sister car – number 1 – driven by Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer completed Audi’s one-two lead at an early stage. On lap 77, the Swiss fought his way to the very front. However, a defect on the left front driveshaft after four hours of racing though meant that the hybrid system of car number 1 was no longer able to deliver its power to the front wheels. With that, the current World Champions had to admit defeat.
The two R18 e-tron quattro cars had been set up for particularly high aerodynamic downforce. The smaller air restrictor prescribed by the regulations this year was to reduce the output of Audi’s LMP sports cars. The engineers from Audi Sport worked on compensating for this disadvantage, which also included a power-oriented engine development. Furthermore, the 58-litre fuel tank capacity of the diesel hybrid sports car being around 20 percent smaller than that of the petrol engine sports car of competitor Toyota resulted in shorter refuelling intervals for Audi. Despite an additional refuelling stop Audi managed to win with a one-lap advantage in front of the best Toyota finishing in third place.
The McNish, Kristensen & Duval factory Audi averaged 120.17mph throughout the 721-mile, 197-lap race staged in mainly dry but blustery weather conditions marking the Scotsman’s fourth and Audi’s fifth victory in the annual Silverstone race.
Allan McNish commented: “It was very important to start off the year with big points and for the second consecutive season, we’ve made a good start to the WEC by taking maximum points. There’s another seven races but we’re in the best position heading to Belgium early next month.”
Allan added; “We knew it was going to be a tough race from start to finish, due to the weather and of course the competition from Toyota and also internally at Audi with our two cars going flat out. But I believe it surpassed all expectations. The race quickly came down to a fight between the two ‘sister’ Audis. I spun avoiding a GT car when lapping it which ‘flat spotted’ my tyres which meant I had to take on new ones. Then it was just maximum attack until the end – there was no other option if I wanted to lift the RAC Tourist Trophy.”
The second round of the eight-race FIA World Endurance Championship is staged at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on Saturday 4th May.