Published on April 13th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Audi wins WEC opener at Silverstone
Ever since Peugeot stepped out of the endurance championship game, the prototype class has become far more interesting and far more diverse. Last year saw the introduction of Porsche’s contenders, and the year before that marked the year Toyota returned to LMP racing. It’s given Audi some truly world-class competition to deal with, but Audi’s numerous years of expertise in the field of endurance racing gives them an edge.
Where most races run for 1-2 hours, this race at Silverstone was a 6-hour affair. It’s not quite as gruelling as Le Mans or the Nurburgring, but it’s still a good test of how a team holds up as the hours drag on. And with a shorter duration than a full on 24-hour race, there is less room for error as there is less time to recover ground. Every millisecond becomes even more important.
Audi, Toyota, and Porsche were fighting tooth and nail for that podium position throughout the race. It wasn’t a war of attrition, but a proper dog fight, with continuous swapping of positions and door-to-door fighting. But when the dust settled and the checkered flag dropped, it was an Audi R18 e-tron quattro leading the pack, with a frighteningly close 4.610 second advantage. Audi’s second car finished in 5th place, following two unscheduled pit stops.
Audi’s win came despite a few mechanical issues at the beginning of the race. Car number 7, which took the victory, had gearbox issues at the beginning of the race. While they qualified in fifth place, they fell back through half the field and had to fight their way up to pole position. Thankfully their pit stops went according to plan, with excellent strategy putting them ahead of the competition. A close fight with Porsche throughout one of the laps also threatened their victory.
While car number 8 started the race from the second row, it ran into a few incidents over the course of the race that forced it to take two unscheduled pit stops, which in turn burned roughly 7 minutes of their lead. Despite this serious handicap, they managed to finish in an impressive fifth place, hardly moving from where they qualified.
Fans will not have to wait long for the next appearance of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro. In just three weeks from now (May 2) round two of the FIA World Endurance Championship will be held at Spa-Francorchamps (B). For Audi, the race on the famous circuit in the Ardennes marks a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the season’s pinnacle event, the Le Mans 24 Hours. To prepare for Le Mans, Audi Sport Team Joest will be fielding the third hybrid sports car, designated as number ‘9,’ that will be driven by Filipe Albuquerque (P), Marco Bonanomi (I) and René Rast (D).