Problems with lap trigger signal prevent regular qualifying.
Ingolstadt/Austin – Audi started qualifying for round four of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Austin full of optimism. Following two best times set in the free practice sessions, the squad of Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich and Chris Reinke, Head of LMP, saw itself well prepared for the final qualifying session as well. However, the failure of a lap trigger signal frustrated any hope of taking a position on the front row of the grid.
Le Mans winner Marcel Fässler in the number 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro and Loïc Duval in the number 1 sister car already noticed irregularities on the first timed laps of the qualifying session. The complex control systems for fuel consumption and the hybrid system were apparently receiving wrong signals that made optimal lap times impossible.
Im sure that were going to correct the problems by tomorrow and have a clean race then.
Lucas di Grassi
As the reasons for the faulty lap trigger signal could not be found and corrected in the mere 25-minute qualifying session, Audi had to settle for grid positions four for Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) and six for Lucas di Grassi/Loïc Duval/Tom Kristensen (BR/F/DK).
But the free practice sessions give Audi reason for hope. As soon as the defect has been corrected the hybrid sports cars should be able to battle for top positions. In the first free practice at Austin, Marcel Fässler achieved the best time ahead of his team-mate Lucas di Grassi. In the third free practice, Loïc Duval was in front of Marcel Fässler.
In dry weather in the first and third practice sessions and heavy rain in the second one, Audi thoroughly prepared for the highly changeable conditions prevailing in the south of Texas this weekend. High humidity, temperatures of more than 30 degrees centigrade, rain showers and the chance of thunderstorms are making forecasts difficult. However, in a 6-hour endurance race top results are possible even from the current grid positions.
The starting signal in Texas will be given on Saturday at 17:00 local time (00.00 CEST). Eurosport in Germany will air full-length coverage of the race.
Quotes after qualifying
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): We were not unfortunate but both of our cars failed to function the way they should have. There was a problem with the lap trigger signal. Given the complexity of the systems, a correct run of the lap is extremely important but that didnt work in qualifying with either car.
Chris Reinke (Head of LMP): This is a sobering result for us because we didnt have the chance to use our full potential. Were going to correct the issue on both cars before the race. Then well be able to attack with full strength.
Ralf Jüttner (Team Director Audi Sport Team Joest): We had problems with the lap trigger signal. The systems are very complex with these cars. For the drivers, it must have felt as if they were driving a totally different car than in the previous practice sessions. The race will be on Saturday, thats when everything counts. By that time, were going to provide our drivers with flawless cars again.
Marcel Fässler (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): For me, qualifying was difficult because we had problems with the lap trigger signal. That distracted me a bit while I was driving. We were clearly beaten below our potential. We tried to make the best of the situation. Thats why I got into the car a second time in order to improve our average lap time. Of course it would have been great to start the race from the front row but from the second row a lot is still possible too. The race will be very interesting.
André Lotterer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): It was a difficult qualifying session which, unfortunately, didnt go smoothly due to problems with the lap trigger signal. Thats why we werent able to use our maximum potential. But the race is long and weve got a good car. Im looking forward to Saturday.
Benoît Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): We had a problem with the lap trigger signal. That impaired us quite a bit because the car depends on it. Were going to resolve the issue by tomorrow. Its better to have such a problem in qualifying than in the race because, obviously, its the race that counts.
Lucas di Grassi (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): We didnt have a good qualifying session because we had problems with the lap trigger signal. Thats really very disappointing because we still set the best time in the third free practice and were fast in the other sessions as well. Im sure that were going to correct the problems by tomorrow and have a clean race then. Then Im sure well be further towards the front again too.
Loïc Duval (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): Wed been looking forward to qualifying because our times in practice had been good. Unfortunately, we had problems with the lap trigger signal, which greatly impaired our qualifying. But Im sure that were going to resolve everything by tomorrow. Even though were starting from position six, anythings still possible with our competitive car. Were determined to move forward.
Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): Its great to finally be sitting in the car again after Le Mans especially on such a nice and modern track as the Circuit of the Americas. The car was running perfectly in the practice sessions and the team did a great job be it in the sessions on the muggy afternoon or during the thunderstorm in the night practice. That gives us hope for a great race that were looking forward to even though the qualifying session was less than perfect.
1 Buemi/Davidson/Lapierre (Toyota) 1m 49.093s
2 Dumas/Jani/Lieb (Porsche) 1m 50.283s
3 Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (Porsche) 1m 50.302s
4 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 1m 50.340s
5 Conway/Sarrazin/Wurz (Toyota) 1m 50.363s
6 Di Grassi/Duval/Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 1m 51.456s
7 Belicchi/Kraihamer/Leimer (Rebellion-Toyota) 1m 54.665s
8 Canal/Pla/Rusinov (Morgan-Nissan) 1m 56.075s
9 Bradley/Howson/Matsuda (Oreca-Nissan) 1m 56.371s
10 Brown/Dalziel/Sharp (HPD-Honda) 1m 57.262s