Loïc Duval/Oliver Jarvis (F/GB) in Audi R18 in grid position three
Marcel Fässler/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/F) in position five
Narrow gaps give reason to expect a thrilling race
Although Audi will be starting from positions three and five in round eight of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Shanghai the brand with the four rings, having set five fastest times to date, has remained the best manufacturer in qualifying this year.
A string has broken. Following four consecutive pole positions, Audi, at Shanghai, had to admit defeat in the battle for the top spots on the grid for the first time since June. However, performance alone was not the crucial factor, lack of fortune having played a part in the outcome as well.
“Loïc Duval was forced to overtake a rival in an unfavorable section which cost him valuable time,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “That’s why we’re a little disappointed. It’s positive that both driver squads are happy with the balance of their race cars. This is the thing that will matter tomorrow.”
On his best lap, Oliver Jarvis was only lacking 113 thousandths of a second from the fastest time in the field.
“Position one would have been possible today if Loïc had caught a clear lap,” said the Briton. “That I got into the car again at the end and set a better time than at the beginning, was the right decision because every tenth matters here.”
In spite of his lack of fortune, Loïc Duval assessed the session positively: “Obviously, it was a shame that I was slowed by a car in front of me, but we know that our car is good and that quite a bit should be possible in the race.” In the aggregated average, the number 8 Audi R18 trailed the best time in qualifying by 148 thousandths.
The sister car from Audi Sport Team Joest followed in position five, with a deficit to the front runner of 406 thousandths. “Basically, the balance of our car is good and my lap was quite okay,” said Benoît Tréluyer. “The gaps are very close. I’m sure the race will be thrilling.” His teammate Marcel Fässler added: “We tried to save tires for the race on Sunday. So, as far as that’s concerned, our qualifying wasn’t exactly perfect. It was simply a tactical choice that will hopefully pay off on Sunday.”
Stefan Dreyer, Head of LMP at Audi Sport, positively summed up the final qualifying session: “The best time would have been possible today but unfortunately Loïc Duval didn’t catch a clear lap. Both Audi R18 cars were running perfectly in Saturday’s sessions. I have a good feeling following the practice and qualifying sessions we’ve had so far. We know that we’re in for a very challenging race.”
The 6-hour race will start on Sunday at 11:00 local time (04:00 CET). Eurosport will be offering free live video streaming of the entire race on its German website and airing live TV coverage of the final stage (08:30 to 10:15 Uhr CET MEZ) on Eurosport 1. Audi is keeping its fans up to speed on Facebook (AudiSport) and Twitter (@audisport).
1 Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (Porsche) 1m 44.462s
2 Buemi/Davidson/Nakajima (Toyota) 1m 44.522s
3 Di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis (Audi R18) 1m 44.610s
4 Conway/Kobayashi/Sarrazin (Toyota) 1m 44.810s
5 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi R18) 1m 44.868s
6 Dumas/Jani/Lieb (Porsche) 1m 45.051s
7 Imperatori/Kraihamer/Tuscher (Rebellion) 1m 49.828s
8 Kaffer/Trummer/Webb (CLM-AER) 1m 51.285s
9 Bradley/Lynn/Rao (Oreca-Nissan) 1m 54.225s
10 Lapierre/Menezes/Richelmi (Alpine-Nissan) 1m 54.382s