The Audi R15 TDI has defeated its competition in its first race with drivers Dindo Capello (Italy), Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland). They achieved a historic victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring held in Florida with the new diesel-powered sports car of AUDI AG. The Audi drivers completed 383 laps which beat the previous distance recorded by an impressive 13 laps.
At Sebring, the Audi crew faced ambient temperatures almost double its test field and worked day and night to learn more about the new diesel sports car and to adapt it to the extremely bumpy race track in the center of Florida. They were able to solve all minor teething troubles which arose just in time for race day. In the race the new Audi R15 TDI proved fast from the very beginning: Allan McNish outpaced the pole sitting Acura/Honda at the start completing the first lap with more than five seconds advantage. Later, however, it was not the Japanese cars which were the ones to beat but the two Peugeot 908s. The lead swapped no fewer than twelve times among the diesel-powered prototypes from Audi and Peugeot. Over long periods of the race, the four leading prototypes were covered by just a few tenths of a second. In the exciting final stages of the race Allan McNish was able to fully exploit the optimized weight distribution and the sophisticated aerodynamics of the new R15 TDI compared to its predecessor, the R10 TDI. He eventually crossed the finish line 22.279 seconds in front of the second placed Peugeot. It was the ninth overall victory for the Audi at Sebring continuing an impressive series after the Audi R8 in `00 and the Audi R10 TDI in '06.
Tom Kristensen scored his fifth victory in the US endurance classic becoming the most successful driver in the history of the race. Dindo Capello won at Sebring for a fourth time with Allan McNish chalking up his third victory. According to Audi, the R15 TDI was not only the most reliable and fastest prototype on its debut but also the most efficient. Audi celebrated a clear 1-2 victory in the so-called Michelin Green X Challenge in which the fuel consumption is measured in relation to the performance. For Audi, the 12 Hours of Sebring was a rehearsal for the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans in which a total of three new R15 TDI prototypes will compete. An intensive test program is scheduled for Audi Sport Team Joest until the race on June 13-14.
The results at Sebring:
1. Capello/Kristensen/McNish (Audi R15 TDI) 383 laps in 12h 00m 38.638s
2. Sarrazin/Montagny/Bourdais (Peugeot) + 22.279s
3. Luhr/Rockenfeller/Werner (Audi R15 TDI) - 2 laps
4. Fernandez/Diaz (Acura/Honda) - 23 laps
5. Minassian/Klien/Lamy (Peugeot) - 27 laps
6. Magnussen/O'Connell/Garcia (Chevrolet) - 34 laps
7. Beretta/Gavin/Fssler (Chevrolet) - 35 laps
8. Melo/Kaffer/Salo (Ferrari) - 51 laps
9. Companc/Russo/Bruni (Ferrari) - 53 laps
10. Farnbacher/James (Panoz) - 54 laps