|March 18, 2001
Audi Repeats Last Year's Sebring Victory
Sebring, Florida -- For the second year in a row Team Audi Sport North America took a 1-2 victory at the Superflo 12 Hours of Sebring. Michele Alboreto, Laurent Aiello and Rinaldo Capello finished the race just 0.482s ahead of their teammates and last year's winners Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro. The Audi customer teams of Champion and Johansson even made it the first 1-2-3-4 victory for Audi in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) finishing 3rd and 4th.
In front of a record crowd of 168,000 spectators, the two Infineon Audi R8s were setting the pace from the start on the demanding Florida circuit. The two customer R8s of Champion and Johansson stayed close making the pace among the leaders extremely fast.
The two Infineon Audi R8s were fighting for victory throughout the twelve-hour distance. Despite the fast pace and no full course caution periods, the Audi sportscars did not suffer from any severe difficulties. The #1 R8 just had its front brake discs replaced shortly after half distance, the companion car had two pit stops because of a malfunction with the engine's electrics.
Emanuele Pirro established a new Sebring race lap record with a time of 1:49.666
For the Joest Team this does not complete their tour of Sebring. On Monday and Tuesday the team will complete another full 12-hour-distance in preparation for the Le Mans 24 Hour classic in June.
Quotes after the race:
Laurent Aiello (#1): "It was a very tough race. We had some bad luck, but the other team had some as well. Now I'm so happy. It has been a difficult week for us because in the beginning we were struggling a little bit with the setup, but for the race the car was absolutely perfect."
Michele Alboreto (#1): "It is really amazing: Every time I come to the United States, I win a race. Now I'm looking forward very much to the rest of the season, especially Le Mans. After this success my goal is clear: Winning Sebring and Le Mans in a row is a great dream for me."
Rinaldo Capello (#1): "This was a great day. No question that was the best race I have ever done in a sportscar in my whole life. I could push at every time, even in the night. Especially at the end, when I got new tires, I could do perfect lap times. It was simply fantastic."
Tom Kristensen (#2): "It was an incredibly fast race without yellow flags. It was real racing until the end. I won this race twice and would have been happy to win it three times in a row. The stop-and-go-penalty is a judgement call. I don't know if I really braked to late at the pit entrance. We have to see the data from the telemetry."
Frank Biela (#2): "This was an exciting and tight race. For Audi it is a brilliant result. After the last pit stop we were narrowly in front. But, unfortunately Tom had to come in for a stop-and-go-penalty because of speeding in the pit lane. This can happen."
Emanuele Pirro (#2): "Only one car can win, so we have to be happy with the result, even if it is hard to finish second. We lost time twice because of electrical problems and had some bad luck in the end. It was a tough race and I am proud of the result."
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Sport: "Today we had a real hot fight in our team over twelve hours. We see this race also as a preparation for Le Mans and you learn nothing if you don't push. The two privateer teams were very close to us. So we never even thought about relaxing."
Len Hunt, Head of Audi North America: "What a race! We had the Johansson and Champion cars upfront with our two factory cars the whole race. To see the four cars cross the finish line with no real drama, is a great result for all of Audi."
Reinhold Joest, Team Director Audi Sport North America: "Team and drivers have shown a great performance today. I think the spectators saw an exciting show: At one time the car number one was leading, and in the next moment it was number two - even we could not predict the winner until the very end. We learned that we have a lot of work to do for Le Mans."
1. Aiello/Alboreto/Capello (Infineon Audi R8) 370 laps
Audi Season To Date:
Texas Qualify first and twenty-second
Audi Sport North America is the motorsports arm of Audi of America, Inc.