Thursday, June 10, 2010

24 Hours of Le Mans 2010: Audi concentrates on race preparations - Qualifies fifth, sixth and seventh

. Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sandbag - verb: to hide the truth about oneself so as to gain an advantage over another. We feel that is exactly what Audi is doing in the days leading to the 24 hours of Le Mans. With a 1-2-3-4 starting order, many would look at the results of today's Le Mans qualifying as Peugeot domination. However, Audi insists that speed is only one factor of winning the world's greatest race.

The three Audi R15 TDI cars will start Saturday's race from positions five (Bernhard/Dumas/Rockenfeller), six (Capello/Kristensen/McNish) and seven (Fässler/Lotterer/Treluyer). In an effort to collect as much information as possible including testing tires, all three R15 TDI 'Plus' cars completed programs specifically laid out by Audi Sport engineers and technicians. "On Wednesday, we weren’t quite where we wanted to be but on Thursday we made good progress,” explained Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "At Le Mans, speed isn’t the only thing that counts. It’s important to have vehicles with good drivability and, above all, efficiency as well. This is what we’ve been concentrating on.”

Today's qualifying also answered the question on every Audi fan's mind - yes, the R15 TDI 'Plus' is faster than last year's R15 TDI car (despite new restrictions). "In addition, we now know that the R15 plus is pretty efficient in terms of tire wear and fuel consumption,” said Dr. Ullrich. "And all three vehicles were running absolutely reliably in qualifying – which is another very crucial factor at Le Mans.”

The fastest of the three R15 TDIs was the #9 car, driven by Mike Rockenfeller. With a lap time of 3m 21.981s, it's noted that Rocky "almost exactly matched the time of 3m 22.2s the Audi technicians had calculated in simulations."

Quotes after qualifying:

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "We used the two qualifying sessions today very well and clearly improved the cars. Now I’m quite satisfied with the improved performance compared to 2009. Now we will put all knowledge which we collected with the three cars together and tie a strong package to be prepared as good as possible for the race."

Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): "Another day without any technical issues. That is very good and important news for us. We have analysed the data from yesterday and stuck to our program. Fortunately it was a big improvement on all three cars. Between the two sessions today we put all the puzzle together and the result was, that all drivers were happy with their cars. That the guys did some fast laps at the end was a nice thing to have but not our main target. No we can look forward to the race.”

Timo Bernhard (Audi R15 TDI #9): "Contrary to the weather forecast it was mostly dry both yesterday and today. That was good. Thanks to the quite good grip we could work on our long runs and Mike (Rockenfeller) set the best time of our car at the end of the third qualifying session with a new set of tires. He did a very good job and regained fifth positions for us. We’d been there already yesterday. This is a good basis for the race.”

Romain Dumas (Audi R15 TDI #9): "It was good, we improved the car and it was nice. I think we made a big step today already. We have to continue this in the warm-up and than we’ll see.”

Mike Rockenfeller (Audi R15 TDI #9): "It was a good day because we tried out a lot – and with success. The car feels very good, which is most important for a 24-hour race. Of course, you need confidence in the team and in the car – and I have this. We are well positioned and have a good set-up. I am confident.”

Dindo Capello (Audi R15 TDI #7): "That was a good day for us. Compared to yesterday we improved our R15 in many ways. It hepled us that the track was dry again today. Now we are competitive, ready to race and look forward to the start on Saturday.”

Tom Kristensen (Audi R15 TDI #7): "We’ve seen a very strong pace from Peugeot on both days. We are a lot closer today. We have worked on our programs and tried to optimize different aerodynamic aspects and the mechanical grip. And we’ve been trying to gather the feedback on all three cars. We think we have quite a good setup to go into the race.”

Allan McNish (Audi R15 TDI #7): "Between yesterday and today everbody worked hard to use the three programs and bring together some big improvements on the setups and the balance of the car. Overall Dindo (Capello), Tom (Kristensen) and I got a bit more of a feeling of what we wanted for a race car in the 24 hours – which in our opinion is more important than the qualifying.”

Marcel Fässler (Audi R15 TDI #8): "I got a run on fresh tires on Thursday evening to set a quick time. Unfortunately I had some traffic, and therefore I’m not so happy with the time we achieved. Nevertheless, I am satisfied with the setup for the long distance of the race and confident for the outcome.”

André Lotterer (Audi R15 TDI #8): "The qualifying session went better today than the day before. We have focused on further improving the car. And we succeeded. My team-mate Marcel Fässler tried to set a good qualifying lap, then we focussed again on the preparation for the race. We therefore did not push as it would have been possible. Instead, we have tried different tire compounds. We are closer to the competition – and that is good in any case.”

Benoît Treluyer (Audi R15 TDI #8): "Today we have made good progress. The car has been further developed in the right direction. We closed the gap to Peugeot a lot, although our competitor was really looking for pure qualifying times in the end. Peugeot was not able to improve their times from the previous day. We made real progress. And we have focussed on the work for the race. This is a good omen for the race.”

The starting grid at Le Mans:

1 Lamy/Bourdais/Pagenaud (Peugeot) 3m 19.711s
2 Gené/Wurz/Davidson (Peugeot) 3m 20.317s
3 Montagny/Sarrazin/Minassian (Peugeot) 3m 20.325s
4 Panis/Lapierre/Duval (Peugeot) 3m 21.192s
5 Bernhard/Dumas/Rockenfeller (Audi R15 TDI) 3m 21.981s
6 Capello/Kristensen/McNish (Audi R15 TDI) 3m 22.176s
7 Fässler/Lotterer/Treluyer (Audi R15 TDI) 3m 23.605s
8 Fernandez/Mücke/Primat (Lola-Aston Martin) 3m 26.680s
9 Barazi/Hancock/Turner (Lola-Aston Martin) 3m 26.747s
10 Ayari/Andre/Meyrick (ORECA-Aim) 3m 29.506s
12 Bouchut/Tucker/Rodrigues (Audi R10 TDI) 3m 30.907s
13 Albers/Bakkerud/Jarvis (Audi R10 TDI) 3m 31.661s

Written/compiled by
Source: Audi Motorsport