Audi’s Duval/Kristensen/McNish take river’s Championship in China

After the success in the Manufacturers’ World Championship had been determined in Japan three weeks earlier, Loïc Duval/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish (F/DK/GB) in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro won the drivers’ classification* in China. At Shanghai, the trio only had to take third place. Their team-mates Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) won the race following a strong performance.

Audi has celebrated 14 podium finishes, including six victories in the WEC. Audi is now traveling to the WEC finale at Bahrain, where in three weeks from now the brand aims to take its seventh WEC victory of the season.

Quotes after the race

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “That was a brilliant victory because it was a really hard-fought one. The race was thrilling all the way to the end and decided only in the last half hour. The team performance was particularly nice because car number ‘2’ helped out car number ‘1’ with tire sets. Consequently, we delivered a great result for the Audi brand and showed how harmoniously our team functions. In the winning team, Benoît Tréluyer had a very important part. The track suits him particularly well.”

Chris Reinke (Head of LMP): “A tremendous result. We knew before that the track doesn’t suit us so well. It was the biggest challenge in the World Championship. At the beginning of the race, it was obvious how difficult the situation was for us. But in the end, we showed a strong forward battle. That’s how we won the race and the drivers of number ‘2’ took the World Champion’s title.”

Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): “The race started very hard but ultimately ended in a brilliant result for us. During the course of the race the situation between our competitor and us completely changed. Even at the midpoint of the race we didn’t believe that we were going to take victory. We won and the new driver World Champions were on the podium too. ‘Well done’ to the whole squad.”

Marcel Fässler (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “Today was Ben Tréluyer’s day. He was incredibly good today and throughout the weekend. Our team did a brilliant job as well and carried out a perfect strategy. This is a great day for Audi. The Drivers’ World Championship has been decided as well. Congratulations to our team-mates in number ‘2.’ And we can be very pleased today too.”

André Lotterer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “A fantastic day for Audi with our victory. We had Super-Ben in our car today. Originally, he only wanted to drive two stints. But because he was extremely fast he wound up driving four. In the beginning, we lost a bit of ground and had to change a flat tire. But we managed to turn the situation around with a better strategy and better tires. We subsequently caught up with Toyota, who had a puncture too. This made the race extremely thrilling. And our team-mates have won the World Championship title. A great day!”

Benoît Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “Congratulations to our team-mates on winning the World Championship title. Tom and Allan have been top-caliber drivers for such a long time; they simply deserve it – just like Loïc, who’s experienced a great season. Our Audi was outstanding. After we didn’t have the right tires at the beginning of the race, we became notably faster on a different type of tire. Car number ‘2’ helped us out with these tire sets. Thank you very much for that! This way, I was able to overtake Alex Wurz in traffic. It was a thrill all the way to the end.”

Loïc Duval (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “I’ve only driven a full season for Audi alongside Tom and Allan this year. This was combined with a certain pressure as well as a nice hope. After all, I’m driving in the best team of the world. We’ve always given our best and have won the World Champion’s title for it today. That’s an overwhelming feeling in this outstanding year in which we’ve also won Le Mans together. More than this isn’t possible.”

Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “In karting, I finished the World Championship as the runner-up once. Now I’ve won the World Champion’s title with Audi. That’s a nice feeling. And we competed against last year’s World Champions and had to stand our ground. Loïc, Allan and Audi Sport Team Joest did a brilliant job. A nice feeling.”

Allan McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “I’ve been waiting for this moment since 1985. Even in karting, I battled for the World Champion’s title – back then at Le Mans by the way. In Formula 1, I didn’t have a real chance. Now, in my third motorsport discipline, it’s worked out. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together this year. Things were going really well. For me, the race at Austin was a very important element on the way to today’s success. Now I’ve got a feeling of special warmth in my body and of special wetness on my back, after Alex Wurz drenched me in champagne …”

Race results

1 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 190 laps in 6h 01m33.343s
2 Lapierre/Wurz (Toyota) + 15.374s
3 Duval/Kristensen/McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) – 1 lap
4 Beche/Belicchi/Prost (Lola-Toyota) – 5 laps
5 Conway/Martin/Rusinov (Oreca-Nissan) – 13 laps
6 Brundle/Heinemeier Hansson/Pla (Morgan-Nissan) – 13 laps
7 Baguette/Gonzalez/Plowman (Morgan-Nissan) – 13 laps
8 Graves/Kerr/Dolby (Oreca-Nissan) – 14 laps
9 Lux/Shulzhitskiy/Wirdheim (Zytek-Nissan) – 15 laps
10 Cheng/Ihara/Nicolet (Morgan-Nissan) – 18 laps

Without copious manufacturer involvement, the LMP1 class has been somewhat of Audi show for the past few years. It’s not to marginalize the efforts but it does suggest that the Audi domination has been a bit  like the sound of one hand clapping. I recall interviewing Ralf Jüttner a few years ago at Petit Le Mans in Atlanta and I asked him about Audi’s issues that year at Sebring and Le Mans.

Ralf explained to me that the reason for Audi’s failure at Le Mans is that the sand on the circuit is different than the sand at Sebring and they had taken Sebring’s indigenous granules back to the lab to study them and the effect they would have on the Audi’s radiator system. Let’s face it, Audi deserve all the accolades they get with attention to detail such as that. Regardless of how much stiff competition they do or don’t have on track.

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