Audi completed its preparations for the most important endurance race of the year with a test in France that was largely held in rain. Two weeks before the Le Mans 24 Hours, Audi Sport Team Joest set up the long-tail version of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro for the high speed track on the eight-hour test day.
On a mostly wet Sunday at La Sarthe, the team of the eleven-time Le Mans winner concentrated on testing various aerodynamic set-up versions of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro. In addition, the engineers experimented with different tire pressures in order to analyze the performance of the rain tires on a single lap and across longer distances. When showers set in, the team decided to end the morning’s practice session early. The track conditions were too inconsistent, as Loïc Duval came to find out too in an off-track excursion in the Tertre Rouge corner toward the end of the first half of the day. His car, designated as number 2, remained structurally undamaged in the incident and was ready to resume the test after the lunch break.
In the afternoon, there was only slow improvement of the weather situation. It was only possible to use dry tires on the tradition-steeped track in the last 90 minutes. The three R18 e-tron quattro cars finished the test day in the top three positions. Despite the prevailing rainy weather conditions car number 4 also gathered important findings for the future. Audi factory driver Marco Bonanomi in the black R18 e-tron quattro tested the new tire generation by partner Michelin for 2014.
“We traveled to the test day in order to work through various programs and to learn something in the process,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich in summing up the day. “Unfortunately, due to the unsteady weather, we didn’t even come close to being able to try out all the planned options. It only became dry toward the end. Loïc Duval ultimately found a free lap, and he managed to set the fastest time. But only in the race we’ll really see where we stand.”
Results of the test day
1 Duval/Kristensen/McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro), 3m 22.583s
2 Gené/di Grassi/Jarvis (Audi R18 e-tron quattro), 3m 25.358s
3 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro), 3m 25.647s
4 Buemi/Davidson/Sarrazin (Toyota), 3m 27.581s
5 Bonanomi (Audi R18 e-tron quattro), 3m 27.894s
6 Lapierre/Nakajima/Wurz (Toyota), 3m 29.593s
7 Heidfeld/Jani/Prost (Lola-Toyota), 3m 31.967s
8 Beche/Belicchi/Cheng (Lola-Toyota), 3m 34.724s
9 Kane/Leventis/Watts (HPD-Honda), 3m 35.631s
10 Brundle/Heinemeier-Hansson/Pla (Morgan-Nissan), 3m 38.801s