Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx scored a second consecutive 1-2 Le Mans Endurance Series result when the Pierre Kaffer/Allan McNish R8 led home the similar Audi of Jamie Davies/Johnny Herbert at the Nurburgring tonight (3 Jul).
It means that the four Veloqx Audi drivers are now tied in the lead of the four-race, European-based championship - the German race result reversing the opening Monza 1-2 finish for the team. The "British" Audi team's victory also earned the German prestige car manufacturer its maiden sports-prototype win on "home" soil.
The #8 Kaffer/McNish Audi started the scheduled 195-lap race from the front row - Kaffer denied a maiden prototype "pole" in the closing moments by the Minassian/Campbell-Walter (DBA) - with Davies' Friday time earning #88 Davies/Herbert R8 a second row start with Ara/Capello (Goh Audi) completing row two on the 41-car grid.
Herbert snatched second place from Kaffer at the first corner and the Veloqx Audi pair swept to the head of the field - passing either side of Minassian - on lap six. Rain showers, of varying intensity, effected the race for the opening two hours in which Kaffer and Herbert - plus the DBA and Goh Audi - enjoyed spells in the lead.
Kaffer and Minassian "visited" the gravel trap at Turn One in separate incidents, Herbert and Ara survived spins, while Kaffer lost time with a slow puncture. But incredibly, after an action-packed three-hours, Herbert led Kaffer by just 29.1secs with the Goh Audi third, a further 7.4secs adrift having completed 87 laps.
Kaffer charged in to within 7.661secs of leader Herbert when Johnny pitted to Davies while Pierre himself stopped on the next lap and handed over to McNish. Allan immediately set the race's fastest lap and swept in to the lead with just over two hours remaining.
Yet another rain shower 70minutes from the finish, prompted McNish to pit for "intermediate" tyres - and was soon back ahead of team-mate Davies who stayed out on "slick" tyres until stopping , with 45mins to run, when he too opted for "intermediates".
McNish ultimately took the chequered flag in darkness at 10pm (CET), over a lap ahead of Davies in the six hour race, with the DBA third - almost one minute adrift of #88 - with the Goh Audi fourth, 10-laps back having lost almost 20mins for repairs. The adverse weather conditions meant that the race ran for the maximum six hour duration rather than the intended 195-laps.
The penultimate race in the new LMES will mark the British Audi team's "home" debut. Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx, set up just seven months ago, competes at Silverstone on Saturday 14 August - a track just five miles away from the team's base.
Audi R8 - #8
Qualified - 2nd (1:46.779) - PK
Race - 1st + Fastest Lap - 1:45.879 - AM
"What an unbelievable race! It was real fun to drive but at the same time very difficult and at times scary when I went off the track. I only live 20km away and so to win my 'home' race at the Nurburgring is simply fantastic. I am so happy and thanks to all of the team and everybody who has made this possible including of course Michelin."
"We all worked very hard for this result. After what happened at Le Mans it was important for us to have a good result. At one point I thought it was gone. But in endurance racing you never know until the finish what the result will be. So I am very happy. But today, Pierre Kaffer was the hero. Considering it was only his fourth sports-prototype race and his first one here, he was absolutely awesome in very tricky conditions."
Audi R8 - #88
Qualified - 3rd (1:47.009) - JD
Race - 2nd
Jamie Davies (GB):
"We came away with a 1-2 which is a great result for Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx. You can't win every race. Today we just did not have the balance in the car to challenge for a victory and so to get second place is a huge bonus. But we'll fight back at Silverstone and with both cars tied for the lead in the championship, and with no team orders, it should be a classic encounter."
Johnny Herbert (GB):
"It was just a typical Nurburgring race affected by ever-changing weather. You just never knew from one minute to the next when it was going to rain and by how much but it was the same for everyone and it made for a great race. The result sets up the championship for the team's 'home' race in August."
Sam Li, Team Principal:
"A fantastic race with the ever-changing weather conditions requiring decision after decision which always needed to be the correct one. All four drivers drove a fantastic race and it was a supreme performance from the entire Veloqx Audi team - and Michelin - which goes a long way to make up for our Le Mans 24 Hour disappointment."