Published on September 23rd, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Audi Wins The 2014 WEC In Austin
Audi has celebrated the second consecutive one-two win in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Following their victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours in June, Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) in the fourth race of the season at Austin prevailed again. A sudden downpour of rain, red flags after a series of spins and a tactically challenging course of the race on a drying track converted the night race in Texas into a real thriller. Lucas di Grassi/Loïc Duval/Tom Kristensen (BR/F/DK) completed Audi’s success by taking second place.
The 20th race in the young history of the WEC was a classic that remained open up to the very end. After six hours of racing, the victorious Audi driver trio prevailed with a very narrow margin of 53 seconds against their team-mates. The round at the Circuit of the Americas treated the spectators to supreme suspense up to the checkered flag. The race had a regular beginning in bright sunshine and temperatures of more than 30 degrees centigrade. Audi put down an early tactical marker, opted not to change tires at the first pit stop, and advanced position by position. One and a half hours into the race drizzling rain set in that soon changed into a downpour. Audi made a timely switch from slicks to wets on both R18 e-tron quattro cars. While Benoît Tréluyer took the lead and Tom Kristensen third place, numerous competitors slipped into the gravel and came to a halt in dangerous places. Therefore, race control decided to red flag the race.
About 50 minutes later, the teams resumed the race behind the safety car. Both Audi diesel hybrid sports cars kept their rain tires when the race was restarted on a wet track. Fifteen minutes later, Audi Sport Team Joest decided to switch car number 2 to intermediates. On the tires designed for mixed conditions, Benoît Tréluyer defended the lead before changing to slicks an hour later. In the case of the sister car, the team opted for a different strategy. To save the switch to intermediates, the squad wanted to use the rain tires until conditions became dry enough for slicks. This tactical option resulted in one less pit stop. However, Tom Kristensen also had to first change to intermediate tires before being able to switch to slicks at the next pit stop. Following a recovery by Lucas di Grassi at the end of the race, car number 1 finished as the runner-up.
Audi decided the WEC race in North America in its favor last year as well. For Audi, this marked the 13th victory in 20 WEC races since the beginning of the World Championship in 2012. On achieving this most recent success the squad of Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich and Chris Reinke, Head of LMP, after four of eight races, took the lead in the WEC manufacturers’ standings for the first time.
The No. 14 Porsche 919 Hybrid had the lead heading into the final hour thanks to one less pit stop, but a power less coupled with Marcel Fassler extending his lead in the No. 2 Audi prior to a final splash of fuel allowed the Audi to seize the advantage.
Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer followed up their Le Mans win with the win at COTA, ahead of the sister No. 1 of Tom Kristensen, Lucas di Grassi and the returning Loic Duval.
The No. 8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid was third in the hands of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Nicolas Lapierre, the latter turning in a great comeback drive after being one of several cars that went off in the rain. Round five on the WEC calendar will be held on the track at Fuji in Japan in three weeks from now.