Audi Triumphs with Diesel Power at Sebring
The new Audi R10 TDI has immediately written motorsport history in its first outing: Dindo Capello (Italy), Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland) won the 12-hour race at Sebring (USA) achieving the first ever victory of a Diesel powered sportscar. Tom Kristensen became the first driver to win Americas most famous endurance race for a fourth time, achieving another record after his record seventh Le Mans victory from last year.
30 degrees Celsius in the shade, high humidity and asphalt temperatures reaching up to 43 degrees, caused especially difficult circumstances on the Florida track which is one of the most demanding in the world. Allan McNish had already shown the potential of the 650-hp V12 TDI engine with a record-breaking pole position time in qualifying. Because the heat exchanger had to be replaced after the morning warm-up, Dindo Capello was forced to start the number two R10 TDI from the pit-lane starting his chase from the back of the field.
It took Capello only half an hour before he had moved from 35th and last position to second just behind the sister car of Frank Biela. Shortly before the end of the second hour, the Italian took the lead, which the number two R10 TDI kept until the finish. Only changing the fuel filter and two loose wheel nuts caused unscheduled pit-stops.
The number one Audi R10 TDI that had clearly led the race for the first two hours did not reach the finish. The car driven by Frank Biela (Germany), Emanuele Pirro (Italy) and Marco Werner (Germany) was withdrawn just before one-third distance due to an overheated engine.
The reason: Shortly after the start of the race, the telemetry system of car number one, that transmits the data from the car to the pits, had stopped working. As a consequence, Audi Sports engine technicians had no data at all for the whole distance. When Marco Werner reported high water temperatures via radio during the fourth hour of the race, the second placed R10 TDI was called into the pits. The team discovered radiators completely blocked by tyre rubber. After cleaning the radiators, the temperatures sank immediately. However, Team Audi Sport North America decided to precautionary withdraw the second placed R10 TDI from the race because the engine had been running with significantly high temperatures for an extended period.
Quotes after the race at Sebring
Prof Dr Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of AUDI AG: “Audi has once again written motorsport history, this time by being the first manufacturer to win an endurance race with a diesel powered sportscar. This impressively confirms the efficiency of the modern TDI technology. It is especially remarkable that this success was achieved at the very first race of the new Audi R10 TDI. The whole team from Audi Sport and the Technical Development of Audi has once again done a great job. I thank everyone who is participating in this ambitious project.
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “This has been a very tough race and thus a good test for Le Mans. To get the first victory for a TDI engine after our pole position is fantastic. We showed today whats in our new sportscar with a Diesel engine. Thanks to the whole crew from Audi Sport and Team Joest. Of course it is a shame that we couldnt bring both cars to the finish. But we learned a lot today and know that it is still a long way to Le Mans.
Dindo Capello (Audi R10 TDI #2): “Audi has again done something extraordinary. With this victory we really make a new chapter about motorsport history. It reminds me when Audi started rallying with the quattro to show that four-wheel drive is good not only for farm vehicles. When Audi announced it would go racing with a Diesel engine, maybe many people did not take us seriously. But I think now they will not laugh anymore about us.
Tom Kristensen (Audi R10 TDI #2): “Audi had the courage to put such a young car into a race at an early stage. It paid off. I know how many people have been working very hard for this and I would like to thank all of them. I have to say many thanks especially to the mechanics. What they did after the warm-up was a job which normally is not done in this short amount of time. Thanks also to my colleagues Allan and Dindo who drove very well. Crossing the finish line was a historic moment for the Diesel technology. I know that Audi has a good image in America. Im sure the image of Audi TDI will be soon as good in the US.
Allan McNish (Audi R10 TDI #2): “The whole team should be very proud – we have created a little piece of history. In a few years time, people will look back and realise this was a monumental moment, not only in Audi Sport history, but also in motorsport where the first ever Diesel engine won an international race. We all worked very hard for this one. And we will all be celebrating a lot tonight.
Frank Biela (Audi R10 TDI #1): “The first victory with a Diesel engine and for the R10 TDI is a great story. Especially if you have in mind that we had not so much time. The roll-out happened quite recently. You can only take your hat off to Audi Sport for this achievement. We had a superb car at the beginning of the race. But things like this can happen, thats racing. Now we have to keep our heads up, look forward, show the same performance at Le Mans and finish the race there.
Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #1): “In motor racing you can have mechanical problems sometimes. Of course there is sadness for us because a little problem prevented us from having a good battle for the win. Despite that, it has been a positive weekend. One of the two cars won its first race, this is a big achievement and a big reward for all the work all of us did in developing the R10 TDI. I keep my full confidence for the very big race which is Le Mans.
Marco Werner (Audi R10 TDI #1): “We had good race speed, and as long we were in the race, things went without problems. Of course it is a shame we had to stop prematurely. Despite that, my thanks to Audi and Team Joest. The boys had a lot of work this weekend. Audi faced stiff competition after such a short period of testing. Others often dont have the courage to do this in public.
Ralf Juttner (Technical Director, Team Audi Sport North America): “We are happy about the success because we have been working extremely hard for that. Its even more important we learned a lot of things – we can take home a long list and work towards Le Mans. This will happen with a lot of joy because we have seen the potential the R10 TDI has and that the concept is right. Losing one car very early was not nice, and I really feel sorry for the guys of car number one. They also worked through many nights.