Audi Sport North America made history …
Sebring Raceway 03/20/2006
Sebring, Fla. - Audi Sport North America made history Saturday as the diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The new prototype is the first diesel car in the world to win a major sports car race.
It was the type of debut Audi was hoping for in preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The German manufacturer used Sebring as a test for the most prestigious sports car race in the world, set for June 17-18.
The No. 2 Audi won the opening race of the 2006 American Le Mans Series by three laps over Intersport Racing's No. 37 Lola B05/40-AER. After winning the pole position, the No. 2 car had to have its heat exchanger switched before the race and had to start the race from pit lane and in 34th position. But by the two-hour mark, the pole-sitting car had moved back into the lead when the No. 1 sister car had to pit.
"We had our share of trouble today, but that's natural in development," said McNish, who won for the second time in three years at Sebring. "This was the first real endurance test. We encountered trouble but nothing we couldn't overcome. The engineers did a great job preparing for things that could go wrong. The car's rhythm was really good. It was fun to really blast the car around the track."
Kristensen gave the No. 2 car the lead for good when Marco Werner, driving with defending Series champions Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro in the No. 1 Audi R10 TDI, pulled the car into the garage just shy of the four-hour mark. Shortly thereafter, the car was retired due to overheating.
That left Kristensen, Capello and McNish to comfortably run out front. Kristensen added yet another record to his already impressive résumé. He now has four overall wins at Sebring, the most in the race's 54-year history. He also has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans a record seven times, including the last six in a row.
"Today you can say Audi brought out a car that isn't a test car, but close to it," Kristensen said. "This engine was only white paper a few months ago. I'm pleased to be part of the headlines today.
"This project has been a lot of motivation for Le Mans," he added. "There will be tests that will go on Monday. There's a lot to improve, mostly small details. But those will make us more confident. There are cars that will be at Le Mans that are not here today, but we'll be watching the tape very carefully." …
The Audi R10 TDI® – poised to change the reputation of diesel forever – was the overall winner of the 12 Hours of Sebring in its debut. The success of the Audi R10 TDI® comes after six straight victories at Sebring by the gasoline-powered Audi R8 with FSI® Direct Injection technology. The Audi R10 TDI® is the first diesel-powered car ever to win at Sebring, thanks in part to the powerful efficiency of TDI® Direct Injection. Now, it’s on to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it will attempt another diesel first.