The 1000 Km of Spa race this weekend was the debut race for the Audi R18 TDI in Europe and everybody was keen to know how the new generation of Audi’s prototype racers which have undergone major changes, will do.
Unfortunately it didn’t live up to the expectations and gave up in the battle with the Peugeot 908 and handed over the first and second place to them, finishing third, which is still on podium but it’s not victory! That doesn’t mean the R18 is rubbish and it doesn’t work. It was its first race and we have to wait for the big event, Le Mans 24 hours to see what’s what.
Timo Bernhard, who had started from pole, and Allan McNish (despite a spin on the first lap) were part of the action at the front of the field during the first hour as well and fought some thrilling duels with their rivals in heavy traffic. Audi blames a number of incidents for their cars to loose ground:
André Lotterer, who had a clear lead in the early phase, had to be pushed backward at his first pit stop and lost valuable time in the process. His team-mate Benoît Tréluyer had to make an unscheduled stop after picking up an unusually large piece of rubber on his front left-hand tyre. Shortly afterwards the same problem occurred again, causing the Frenchman to slide into the gravel trap and lose two laps. Marcel Fässler subsequently complained about a car that was too demanding to drive – he, too, was struggling with rubber “pick-up”. In the end, the Audi R18 TDI designated as car number “2” finished fifth.