An excellent result for the Audi R15 TDI’s final hurrah. The 12 Hours of Sebring will be the first race for all in 2011 and yet the last race the R15 TDI era. While most knew Peugeot would be fast and take pole, the R15 was right there. Sarrazin did pull out an amazing 1:46.57 lap to take pole, with Romain Dumas right behind with a 1:47.680. Tom Kristensen put the #2 R15 TDI on 4th with a 1:48.173. Once again, it’s a 12 hour race and there will be over 50 cars spread over 3.7 miles. Gallery after the jump.
30 degrees in the shade and 56 cars on mere six-kilometer long race track – the conditions for the season opener of the Le Mans Intercontinental Cup (ILMC) at Sebring (U.S. state of Florida) could hardly be more difficult. Audi is in a good shape for the classic U.S. endurance race with positions two and four on the starting grid.
In its tenth and last race, the Audi R15 TDI has to run with significantly reduced engine power due to the new technical regulations. Nevertheless, Frenchman Romain Dumas, in his first-ever qualifying session for Audi, was able to split the two new Peugeot 908 prototypes and to conquer an unexpected place on the front row of the grid for Audi Sport Team Joest with the “old” R15 TDI.
- Starting positions two and four for Audi in ILMC opener at Sebring
- Romain Dumas second in his first-ever qualifying for Audi
- 30 degrees in the shade and 56 cars on track
During the 15-minute qualifying session, Tom Kristensen was on a similarly fast lap as his team-mate, before losing time in the final corner behind a slower car. Thus the second Audi R15 TDI will start the race from grid position four on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. local time (3:30 p.m in Germany).
Due to the high temperatures and an extremely large starting field of 56 cars from a total of six classes, the Audi team during the four practice days exclusively focused on race preparations of the two Audi R15 TDI cars making them as comfortable as possible for the drivers. Reliability will also play a decisive role over the 12-hour distance on the extremely tough track. Historically, this has been a major strength of the record winning car of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
1 Montagny/Sarrazin/Lamy (Peugeot) 1m 46.571s
2 Bernhard/Dumas/Rockenfeller (Audi R15 TDI) 1m 47.680s
3 Wurz/Gené/Davidson (Peugeot) 1m 48.020s
4 Capello/Kristensen/McNish (Audi R15 TDI) 1m 48.173s
5 Lapierre/Duval/Panis (Peugeot) 1m 48.569s
6 Pickett/Graf/Luhr (Lola-Aston Martin) 1m 49.679s
7 Brabham/Franchitti/Pagenaud (Acura/Honda) 1m 49.802s
8 Prost/Jani/Bleekemolen (Lola-Toyota) 1m 50.756s
9 Lahaye/Moreau/Ragues (OAK-Pescarolo) 1m 51.781s
10 Dyson/Smith/Cochran (Lola-Mazda) 1m 52.233s