A summary of Audi Sport's performance over the 2015 6 Hours of Fuji race weekend in Japan.

Qualifying: Audi Reduces Gap in Qualifying
Audi came closer to the top in qualifying for round six of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Japan. While the gap to the fastest time in the previous event amounted to 1.3 seconds, the best Audi R18 e-tron quattro trailed the leader in qualifying by just a little less than three tenths of a second at Fuji.
“The many sports car fans in Japan can look forward to a thrilling race,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich following the final qualifying session. “Our developments since the summer have paid off.” For the race at Fuji, Audi developed a modified body based on its efficiency aerodynamics. It combines low drag with good downforce levels.

André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer in the number ‘7’ Audi R18 e-tron quattro achieved a combined lap time of 1m 23.082s – corresponding to grid position three and a gap of 0.319 seconds to the top. “Our car felt good,” said Tréluyer, who posted the best time of all Audi drivers. “The set-up is well-balanced. The team did a good job.”

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The number ‘8’ Audi trailed the sister car with a gap of 163 thousandths of a second. “We managed to make a good step since Le Mans,” said Loïc Duval. “In the past, the track at Fuji didn’t suit us so well. That makes being so close on Porsche’s heels even sweeter.”

Chris Reinke, Head of LMP at Audi Sport, looks toward round six of the season that will start on Sunday at 11.00, local time, with optimism: “Audi is back again. Qualifying was spectacular. Positions kept shifting all the way up to the end. The narrow gaps give rise to hope for a good race.”

In Germany, the race will be broadcast in full on Sunday, October 11, from 04.00 to 10.15 (CEST) by Eurosport. Frank Biela, a five-time Le Mans winner with Audi, will be one of the co-commentators of the program.

Qualifying results1 Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (Porsche) 1m 22.763s
2 Dumas/Jani/Lieb (Porsche) 1m 23.071s
3 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 1m 23.082s
4 Di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 1m 23.245s
5 Buemi/Davidson/Nakajima (Toyota) 1m 25.072s
6 Conway/Sarrazin/Wurz (Toyota) 1m 25.327s

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Race: Sixth Podium Place for Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer
Audi made a step forwards in terms of vehicle performance in the sixth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Fuji. But by achieving positions three and four, the race results did not fully reflect the true progress made. In changeable weather conditions, the Audi squad was unfortunate several times in terms of tire choices and caution periods.
Following a good qualifying session, the two Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars again proved their prowess in the 6-hour race. Marcel Fässler led the wet race and generated an advantage of more than 15 seconds before car number ‘7’ pitted for the first time. Oliver Jarvis in the number ‘8’ sister car maintained second place some of the time but, due to poor visibility caused by windshield fogging, lost ground. When the track gradually began to dry, the decision to fit both race cars with intermediate tires was the right one.

A nail-biting battle for the lead ensued with Porsche. However, when André Lotterer switched to slicks halfway through the race, he lost valuable time as the tires were not yet working optimally in the difficult and changeable conditions. After a few laps, the team called him into the pits again in order to switch back to intermediates. At the same time, Porsche benefited from a full course caution during this part of the race and, with car number ‘18,’ gained about one minute at a pit stop.

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Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer ultimately achieved a podium result for the sixth race in succession. Lucas di Grassi/Loïc Duval/Oliver Jarvis finished in fourth place. “At Fuji, we were clearly more powerful than before even though, unfortunately, the results do not reflect this,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “In qualifying, we reduced our gap by about one second and in the race Loïc Duval managed to set the fastest lap. Unfortunately, we weren’t lucky with our tire choices today.”

In the standings, Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer were holding the top spot for 181 days since the beginning of the season. Following Fuji, they now lie second with a one-point deficit. With two rounds to go in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), suspense is at an all-time high. “Fuji showed that we’re developing our car in the right direction,” said Chris Reinke, Head of LMP at Audi Sport. “Our improved aerodynamics is paying off. Now it’ll be crucial to make optimum use of this progress at Shanghai in three weeks from now and subsequently in Bahrain. We continue to have good chances of clinching the title.”

Race results1 Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (Porsche) 216 laps
2 Dumas/Jani/Lieb (Porsche) +14.306s
3 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) –1 lap
4 Di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) –2 laps
5 Buemi/Davidson/Nakajima (Toyota) –2 laps
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Quotes

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): 
“We had the best pace at the beginning and at the end of the race. Unfortunately, halfway through the race, in the transition stage between a wet and dry track, we weren’t as fast as the competition. By switching to dry tires early, we took a risk with car number ‘7’ that didn’t pay off. But you could see that we made a major step in terms of performance. Now, we’re going to try to convert the performance capability of the car into a perfect result in the next race at Shanghai.”

 

 

 

Chris Reinke
Chris Reinke (Head of LMP at Audi Sport):
 “In qualifying, we clearly reduced the gap and confirmed our good form in wet conditions in the race. Marcel Fässler even managed to pull clear of the field in the beginning. In spite of a fogged windshield Oliver Jarvis did a very good job of keeping pace as well. A rival was very fortunate during a caution period with their pit stop. We responded by making a risky tire choice that didn’t pay off. That’s when we lost the chance of battling for victory.”

 

 

 

 

Ralf Jüttner (Team Director Audi Sport Team Joest)
Ralf Jüttner (Team Director Audi Sport Team Joest): 
“The race started well.When the track was still wet wewere among the fastest cars, but in dry conditions our rivals were stronger. The tables truly turned when the number ‘18’ Porsche was the only top car to pit during a caution period and gained a major advantage in the process. In response, we made the risky decision to give André slicks – in retrospect, this proved to be the wrong choice. The drivers of car number ‘8’ were struggling with difficult visual conditions and still did a good job of keeping pace. Our refueling stops this weekend were very good and we performed by far the quickest tire changes on both cars – we’re proud of this.”

 

 

Marcel Fassler
Marcel Fässler (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #7):
 “The car was very good to drive in the rain and I was able to build an advantage. That was a great feeling. However, it was hard to keep the tire performance at consistent levels across the distance. Further into the race, we were lacking fortune to some extent, but basically we’re in a position of putting Porsche under pressure at the moment. We continue to have good chances of clinching the title.”

 

 

 

 

Andre Lotterer
André Lotterer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #7):
 “The beginning of our race was good because Marcel was simply strong. Then things became a bit difficult. When I saw that our rivals were faster, I had to counter that, so we took the risk of using slicks on a drying track, but our timing was too early. But, basically, our development is headed in the right direction and I’m looking forward to the next races. We scored valuable points today.”

 

 

 

 

Benoit Treluyer
Benoît Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #7):
 “We caught up with Porsche in terms of lap times. This shows that the team did a very good job. Unfortunately, our tire strategy didn’t pan out. This can happen now and then. Audi managed the fastest race lap, which shows that the R18 e-tron quattro is good to drive even in difficult conditions. It’s important that we continue to have good chances in the Championship. We’re only one point short of the top of the standings.”

 

 
 
 

Lucas di Grassi
Lucas di Grassi (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #8):
 “We had a good pace and were in contention for a podium position. We’ve notably improved since the race at Austin. For us in number ‘8’ it’s not enough yet to battle for victory. But that has to remain our goal.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loic Duval
Loïc Duval (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #8):
 “Fuji was not an easy race. Even though we were struggling with poor visibility, we were consistently fast. A podium result was within reach. We made a step forwards with the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, as our fastest race lap showed as well. That makes me optimistic.”

 

 

 

 

 

Oliver Jarvis
Oliver Jarvis (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #8):
 “The race was truly challenging. Struggling with a fogged windshield in rain was strenuous. It was simply about getting through the race. I wasn’t completely happy with the balance of the car. The fastest race lap by Loïc is a way of saying thank you to the whole squad and showed that car number ‘8’ is in contention.”