Audi made a step forward in terms of vehicle performance in the sixth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Fuji. But by achieving positions three and four, the race results did not fully reflect the true progress made. In changeable weather conditions, the Audi squad was unfortunate several times in terms of tire choices and caution periods.
Following a good qualifying session, the two Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars again proved their prowess in the 6-hour race. Marcel Fässler led the wet race and generated an advantage of more than 15 seconds before car number ‘7’ pitted for the first time. Oliver Jarvis in the number ‘8’ sister car maintained second place some of the time but, due to poor visibility caused by windshield fogging, lost ground. When the track gradually began to dry, the decision to fit both race cars with intermediate tires was the right one.
A nail-biting battle for the lead ensued with Porsche. However, when André Lotterer switched to slicks halfway through the race, he lost valuable time as the tires were not yet working optimally in the difficult and changeable conditions. After a few laps, the team called him into the pits again in order to switch back to intermediates. At the same time, Porsche benefited from a full course caution during this part of the race and, with car number ‘18,’ gained about one minute at a pit stop.
Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer ultimately achieved a podium result for the sixth race in succession. Lucas di Grassi/Loïc Duval/Oliver Jarvis finished in fourth place. “At Fuji, we were clearly more powerful than before even though, unfortunately, the results do not reflect this,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “In qualifying, we reduced our gap by about one second and in the race Loïc Duval managed to set the fastest lap. Unfortunately, we weren’t lucky with our tire choices today.”
In the standings, Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer were holding the top spot for 181 days since the beginning of the season. Following Fuji, they now lie second with a one-point deficit. With two rounds to go in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), suspense is at an all-time high. “Fuji showed that we’re developing our car in the right direction,” said Chris Reinke, Head of LMP at Audi Sport. “Our improved aerodynamics is paying off. Now it’ll be crucial to make optimum use of this progress at Shanghai in three weeks from now and subsequently in Bahrain. We continue to have good chances of clinching the title.”