SEBRING, Florida, -- Audi Sport placed first and second in the Superflo 12-Hours of Sebring marking a triumphant return to North American racing. The winning Audi entry was driven by Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro.
After qualifying one and two, the Audi R8's ran a near perfect race on Saturday to win the classic endurance race. "The motor ran great, the transmission was perfect, the small problems we had we will fix for Le Mans," said Pirro. "The brakes were going away, we had to pump the pedal all around the entire circuit."
The number 77 R8 driven by Michele Alboreto, Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello fought back after going a lap down following a flat tire. The R8's led the way with the fastest laps of the race, the 77 R8 ran a 1:50.287 and the 78 ran a 1:51.546 leading the speed charts for the race. The race distance was 360 laps covering 1,332 miles. The win for Tom Kristensen was his second in as many years, winning last year for BMW.
The key to the victory was the set-up of the R8 and the way it was able to smoothly drive the bumps of the Sebring circuit. "The key passing areas of turn-one and seventeen were a little easier for the Audi than the competition," said Kristensen.
" The result proved to be an exciting reentry into motorsports for Audi Sport North America," said Len Hunt, vice president of Audi Sport North America. "This is a great result for the team, as this was only the third race, we will see how we do at Charlotte in two weeks."
"I am very happy with the result. Now we have a good start for Le Mans and the rest of the ALMS series, but there is still a lot of work to do," said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, head of Audi Sport.
"This is a big achievement for us in only our second year with Audi. The little concerns we had are normal, we will get them sorted out for the future," commented Reinhold Joest, Audi Sport Team Joest.
Audi Sport North America will run two '99 versions of the R8 at the second round of the ALMS series to be held at Lowe's Motor Speedway on April 1st. The race distance will be two hours and forty-five minutes.