All Audi Cars in Front at Le Mans

All Audi Cars in Front at Le Mans
Audi R18 e-tron quattro on the first three grid positions
• Combination of TDI power and quattro drive is fastest
• Frenchman Loïc Duval on pole at Le Mans for first time
 
 
For the first time in the 90-year history of the Le Mans 24 Hours, two hybrid race cars are on the front row. On Thursday night, Audi Sport Team Joest with its three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars took the three best grid positions for the world’s most important endurance race.
 
The intelligent combination of TDI power and quattro drive with which Audi celebrated the first-ever hybrid victory at Le Mans last year outperformed the competition on the 13.629-kilometer race track in Western France on both days of qualifying. The squad of the number ‘2’ Audi R18 e-tron quattro decided the battle for the top spot on the grid in its favor. The fastest time of 3m 22.349s (242.5 km/h), which Loïc Duval had achieved right at the beginning of the first qualifying session on Wednesday night, remained unbeaten on Thursday.
 
For the 31-year-old Frenchman, who is running together with Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland), this marks the first pole position at Le Mans, and the eighth for Audi. And as in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2012, the brand with the four rings secured the complete front row on the grid.
 
Starting the race from position two on Saturday will be the number ‘1’ Audi R18 etron quattro of last year’s winners Marcel Fässler (Switzerland), André Lotterer (Germany) and Benoît Tréluyer (France). André Lotterer was one of the few drivers who in the final qualifying session on Thursday night managed to improve over the day before on a track that was just slowly drying after rain showers and, by setting a time of 3m 23.696s, advanced from third to second place.
 
Le Mans newcomer Lucas di Grassi (Brazil), Marc Gené (Spain) and Oliver Jarvis (Great Britain) in the number ‘3’ Audi R18 e-tron quattro secured third place. The fastest lap of this squad (3m 24.341s) was driven on Wednesday by the seasoned campaigner Marc Gené. As on the day before, incidents caused several red flags and shortened the time available for qualifying. Despite the few dry laps all three Audi teams managed to optimize the set-up of the three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars on Thursday night for the race.
 
Quotes after qualifying
 
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “This is a nice way to start the
weekend. Especially as all three cars set their fastest times during the normal
preparation for the race. This is what we concentrated on in all the practice sessions
so that all the drivers would be one-hundred-percent happy with the car. The first
three positions on the grid are a nice reward for the whole team but, as always at Le
Mans, not really crucial.”
 
Loïc Duval (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “Yesterday’s lap time was enough to
defend the pole position. That’s why we scored a Championship point that may be
decisive at the end of the year. It’s always better to start from the pole position
even though that doesn’t really mean a lot at such a long race. Still, we’re happy
about the top spot on the grid. Yesterday, we weren’t completely satisfied with the
balance of our cars yet, but today the set-up was much better. As the track at the
end was faster today than it was yesterday I was a bit worried that we might still
lose the pole position. But in the end, we made it. Everything went according to
plan. That’s why we’re very happy with the result.”
starting the race with confidence.”
 
Qualifying results
 
1 Duval/Kristensen/McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 3m 22.349s
2 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 3m 23.696s
3 di Grassi/Gené/Jarvis (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 3m 24.341s
4 Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin (Toyota) 3m 26.654s
5 Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima (Toyota) 3m 26.676s
6 Prost/Jani/Heidfeld (Lola-Toyota) 3m 28.935s
7 Belicchi/Beche/Cheng (Lola-Toyota) 3m 32.167s
8 Leventis/Watts/Kane (HPD-Honda) 3m 36.547s
9 Pla/Heinemeier/Brundle (Morgan-Nissan) 3m 38.621s
10 Rusinov/Martin/Conway (Oreca-Nissan) 3m 39.535s