Disappointment for Audi in qualifying at Austin

Problems with lap trigger signal prevent regular qualifying.

Disappointment for Audi in qualifying at Austin
#2 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro: Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer
#2 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro: Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer
#2 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro: Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer
#2 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro: Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer
#2 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro: Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer
#1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro: Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval, Tom Kristensen
#1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro: Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval, Tom Kristensen
#1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro: Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval, Tom Kristensen
#1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro: Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval, Tom Kristensen
Andre Lotterer discussing his experince with Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich
#2 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro: Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer
#2 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro: Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer
#2 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro: Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer
#1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro: Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval, Tom Kristensen
Tom Kristensen
#1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro: Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval, Tom Kristensen
Loic Duval
#1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro: Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval, Tom Kristensen

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.

I’m sure that we’re 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 didn’t work in qualifying with either car.”

Chris Reinke (Head of LMP): “This is a sobering result for us because we didn’t have the chance to use our full potential. We’re going to correct the issue on both cars before the race. Then we’ll 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, that’s when everything counts. By that time, we’re 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. That’s 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, didn’t go smoothly due to problems with the lap trigger signal. That’s why we weren’t able to use our maximum potential. But the race is long and we’ve got a good car. I’m 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. We’re going to resolve the issue by tomorrow. It’s better to have such a problem in qualifying than in the race – because, obviously, it’s the race that counts.”

Lucas di Grassi (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “We didn’t have a good qualifying session because we had problems with the lap trigger signal. That’s really very disappointing because we still set the best time in the third free practice and were fast in the other sessions as well. I’m sure that we’re going to correct the problems by tomorrow and have a clean race then. Then I’m sure we’ll be further towards the front again too.”

Loïc Duval (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “We’d 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 I’m sure that we’re going to resolve everything by tomorrow. Even though we’re starting from position six, anything’s still possible with our competitive car. We’re determined to move forward.”

Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “It’s 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 we’re looking forward to even though the qualifying session was less than perfect.”

Qualifying results

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

Audi

shares
comments
Porsche 919 Hybrid in front row at COTA
Previous article

Porsche 919 Hybrid in front row at COTA

Next article

Rebellion Racing's R-One #13 to start from fourth

Rebellion Racing's R-One #13 to start from fourth
Load comments
The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending Prime

The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending

OPINION: The deeply unsatisfying ending to a brilliant World Endurance Championship GTE Pro battle in Bahrain had Ferrari provisionally heading back from the desert as the victor. But Porsche plans to appeal the outcome, which rests on a number of confusing elements that have yet to be satisfactorily explained.

WEC
Nov 9, 2021
How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint Prime

How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint

The Ferrari versus Porsche fight for the FIA World Endurance Championship's GTE Pro title had been a finely-poised affair, right up until Alessandro Pier Guidi's punt on Michael Christensen in the closing stages of the Bahrain 8 Hours handed Ferrari a provisional title, pending Porsche's appeal. Here's how the controversy played out.

WEC
Nov 8, 2021
The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster Prime

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

The 1-2 finish achieved by Toyota at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours was a result that will have surprised few, given its status as pre-event favourite. But the result was anything but straightforward, as worsening fuel pressure concerns required the team's drivers and engineers to pursue "creative fixes" on the fly. Here is the full story of how it reached the end without a lengthy pit visit

Le Mans
Nov 3, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Prime

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment.

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Prime

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights.

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked Prime

Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked

Toyota scored its fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory and a 1-2, with the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez beating the #8. But although it looked straightforward from the outside, Toyota faced serious problem that had to be solved with some quick-thinking and ingenuity.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far Prime

What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far

The new dawn for the FIA World Endurance Championship has arrived at Le Mans, as Hypercars prepare to duel for victory in the world's oldest endurance race. Motorsport.com picks out the 10 things we have learned in the build up to the race.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021
Le Mans 2021: The team-by-team guide Prime

Le Mans 2021: The team-by-team guide

After a two-month delay due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours is set to get underway with the start of the Hypercar era at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021