Audi Dominates 12 Hours Of Sebring

Over the past two years, Audi has been upset by rival Peugeot at the 12 Hours of Sebring — the first race of both the American Le Mans Series and FIA World Endurance Championship. This year was very different. With Peugeot out of the picture this year, Audi has seemingly no competition during the 60th anniversary of the 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.

The Audi R18 TDI coupes finished 1st and 2nd, with the car of Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish taking the win. All are multiple winners at Sebring, with five, six and four overall titles, respectively.

To give a perspective on how far ahead Audi won the race, the 2nd-place Audi R18 driven by Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Loic Duval was four laps off the 325-lap pace set by the winners in the season opener for both the American Le Mans Series and the new FIA World Endurance Championship.

Additionally, the Audis swept the top three spots in qualifying, however, the  finished No. 1 car that started from pole position finished in 16th, after gearbox problems developed. The car led in the first six hours of the race.

It was the first 1-2 finish for Audi at Sebring since 2005, and gave the brand its 10th victory since 2000.

It was the last race for the current TDI, which is being replaced by two new R18s — the Ultra, a lighter-weight version of the chassis with the 3.7-liter turbodiesel V6. There’s also the e-tron Quattro that will be fielded at fielded at the upcoming 24 Hours of Spa and 24 Hours of Le Mans, which cleverly utilizes a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain to deliver propulsion to all four wheels.

The new R18s will debut in the second World Endurance Championship race in May at Spa, Belgium, and will attempt to carry on Audi’s amazing domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

Mar 27th, 2012