Saying goodbye with a bang: Audi achieved an impressive one-two victory in the last race of its Le Mans prototypes in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). After clinching pole position in qualifying, the Audi R18 diesel hybrid sports car went on to claim a lights-to-flag victory in the 6 Hours of Bahrain. In addition, Lucas di Grassi set the fastest race lap. As a result, Audi has clinched the vice-championship titles in the manufacturers’ and drivers’ classifications.
Audi Sport, its six campaigners and Audi Sport Team Joest gave their all once again in the season finale and came out the big winners. “Thank you to the whole squad for an impeccable performance. You couldn’t wish for a sweeter farewell,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “Our competitors and the FIA WEC gave us a very emotional finale with many nice gestures, and we are saying thank you with the best possible sporting result for so many years of tremendous racing: an unforgettable weekend!”
Lucas di Grassi/Loïc Duval/Oliver Jarvis (BR/F/GB) took the lead from the start. Towards the end of the first third of the race, the sister car, number 7, of Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) clearly caught up, temporarily taking the lead, but subsequently dropped back again due to issues with a wheel gun during a tire change. Number 8 took the lead again and on lap 104 was the only top team to gamble on a pit stop during a full-course yellow. This move paid off and combined with setting good lap times, including the fastest race lap by Lucas di Grassi, number 8 eked out an advantage. Even an unscheduled stop on lap 149, during which the team had to remove rubber pickup from various body parts, did not ruin the trio’s rhythm.
As a result, Grassi/Duval/Jarvis crossed the finish line after six hours with a 16-second advantage, achieving their second victory this season following the 6 Hours of Spa in May. In addition, they recaptured position two in the standings. Their teammates Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer completed the one-two, earning Audi its best result of the season. With that, Audi looks back on a sports car era with an impeccable track record. Since 1999, the LMP race cars with the four rings have won 107 of 187 races in America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. In the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) since 2012, Audi has stood for bests as well. On 16 occasions, the brand’s sports cars were on pole position, winning 17 of 41 races. 23 fastest race laps complete this tally. No other manufacturer has been more successful in even just one of these categories. In addition, Audi clinched two drivers’ and two manufacturers’ world championship titles.
“Our intention had been to achieve the maximum today in Bahrain, and that’s exactly what we did,” said Stefan Dreyer, Head of LMP at Audi Sport. “A huge thank you goes to this top team, to Audi Sport Team Joest, to our drivers, and to all the people who made this possible behind the scenes in Neuburg, Neckarsulm and Ingolstadt. As emotional and touching this farewell may seem it is matched by the joy we feel about this top sporting performance with our one-two result and the two vice-championship titles. Sincere congratulations to everyone.”
Source and photo: Audi Sport