The Audi R18 e-tron quattro is causing a sensation on its first racing commitment in the United States. In qualifying for the 12-hour race at Sebring (Florida) both hybrid race cars from Audi Sport Team Joest clearly beat the previous qualifying track record.
In the cockpits of the two Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars, Marcel Fässler (CH) and Allan McNish (GB) fought a close duel for the top spot on the grid in the 15-minute qualifying session on Friday afternoon. In the end, the Swiss with a razor-thin advantage of 0.009 seconds prevailed against his Scottish team-mate. The two-time Le Mans winner and current World Endurance Champion took his first pole position in a Le Mans prototype plus his first one as an Audi factory driver.
Fässler on his fourth flying lap managed setting a time of 1m 43.886s. The Audi racer thus beat the fastest time of the conventionally powered Audi R18 TDI from last year by almost two seconds – as well as the previous qualifying track record set by Marco Werner in 2007 in the Audi R10 TDI (1m 44.974s).
At the – provisionally – last last run of an LMP1 sports car at Sebring, Fässler is sharing the cockpit of a 2012-specification R18 with Oliver Jarvis (GB) and Benoît Tréluyer (F). Lucas di Grassi (BR), Tom Kristensen (DK) and Allan McNish (GB) are driving the 2013-specification Audi R18 e-tron quattro that is celebrating its racing debut in Florida and completed initial test laps in its most current configuration on Monday. An accident by Allan McNish in Thursday morning’s free practice cost valuable track time.
For Audi, this marks the tenth pole position in total at 14 events at Sebring. The brand with the four rings has so far won the U.S. endurance classic an equal number of times. In turn 1, Audi is exhibiting four of its Sebring-winning cars this weekend. In addition to the Audi factory drivers who are active at Sebring, four Sebring winners – Frank Biela (D), Dindo Capello (I), Emanuele Pirro (I) and Marco Werner (D) – are on location.
The 61st running of the 12-hour race at Sebring will start on Saturday at 10:30, local time (15:30 CET).