Audi eye manufacturers title despite setback

Grassi who raced the new Audi R18 e-tron Quattro on fresh tires did rather well to help his team finish in fifth place.

By Randall Rosario (Reporting from Bahrain)

Published: Mon 17 Nov 2014, 9:29 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:23 PM

The Audi Sport Team Joest’s car in action during the WEC 6 Hours of Bahrain. — Supplied photo

Sakhir: Toyota Racing clinched a grand double by winning the FIA World Endurance Drivers’ Championship and the 6 Hours of Bahrain — but seasoned Audi Sport Team Joset, who were denied a podium finish are not giving up on winning the vacant manufacturing classification to be decided in the finale in Brazil.

The penultimate round of the WEC was given a glittering touch as Ferrari’s Formula One champion Fernando Alonso took part in a pre-race grid walk along with a host of officials and team officials.

Heading into the final day of the race Audi faced an uphill task after their car No. 1 driven by Lucas di Grassi/Loïc Duval/Tom Kristensen had to start from scratch following a damaged monocoque on Thursday night.

After much effort by the technical crew, the trio were allowed to take to the grid despite missing out the free practice and qualifying. Grassi, who started the race in Car 1 said: “Our mechanics did a brilliant job and, despite getting very little sleep, prepared our car from scratch. I’m very proud that we managed to take a few points home for our squad.”

Audi R8 LMS Cup to debut in Capital

Sakhir: On a brighter side following their dismal showing in Bahrain, Audi finally had something to cheer about with the announcement that Abu Dhabi will play host to the season-ending two races of the Audi R8 LMS Cup on December 12-13, along the Gulf 12 Hours race.

Speaking on the sidelines of the WEC 6 Hours of Bahrain, Trevor Hill, Managing Director of Audi Middle East revealed details of the Audi R8 LMS Cup set to make its debut in the Capital. The Yas Marina Circuit will thus host Rounds 11 and 12, the only one-make sprint race series in the world. According to Trevor, the series which began in China in the year 2012 and was later hosted in Malaysia and South Korea, has become a big hit among fans in Asia and over the world. “Audi brings a new quality of motorsports to the Middle East. Motorsport is in the DNA of every Audi and with the Audi R8 LMS Cup we’re able to show the technical abilities of our cars on the race track,” Trevor added.

The driver line-up of the Audi R8 LMS Cup promises to an impressive one: Amongst others former Macao GP winner André Couto, Aidan Wright from Australia, and Matt Solomon from Hong Kong are among some of the driver who will compete against former DTM driver, Rahel Frey from Switzerland.

Reigning champion Adderly Fong from Hong Kong, former Formula One driver Alex Yoong from Malaysia and 2012 champion Marchy Lee will vie also for top honours in Abu Dhabi. The cup will also feature a mix of ambitious amateur drivers.

Grassi who raced the new Audi R18 e-tron Quattro on fresh tires did rather well to help his team finish in fifth place.

Audi’s car No 2 driven by Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer also missed out on a podium finish as they came in fourth. But the proceedings at the magnificent BIC track belonged to the Toyota drivers who dominated from the bright evening sunshine heading into a starry night. The Toyota Racing trio of Alex Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Mike Conway teamed up to clinch their season’s first win in a sheer display of flawless performance. The icing on the cake was achieved as Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi took the chequered flag to clinch the FIA World Endurance Driver’s Championship. Both the Porsche 919 Hybrid entries claimed the second and third podium finish.

Porsche’s No14 car of Marc Lieb, Neel Jani and Romain Dumas just finishing ahead of teammates Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard.

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, head of Audi Motorsport congratulated the Toyota Racing team. “Sincere congratulations to Sébastien (Buemi) and Anthony (Davidson) on the early win of the title in the drivers’ championship. Unfortunately, we didn’t achieve the podium.”

However, despite the setbacks, Audi could take some credit in keeping the manufacturers title race open for the first time in its three-year history. With Toyota holding a 40 point lead anything is yet possible as 44 points are up for grabs. The battle in Brazil is far from over over.

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