"In the beginning it was a good battle with the Audi, but they have clearly been more comfortable in traffic and could easily pick various different lines," said Mark. "Temporarily I also did not have the full boost, but we were able to fix this while I was running. We have definitely learnt a lot in the high temperatures of the early part of the race and also later in the stints."
Race result 6 hours of Austin (Texas):
1. Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (CH/D/F), Audi R18 e-tron quattro, 157 laps
2. Di Grassi/Duval/Kristensen (BRA/F/DK), Audi R18 e-tron quattro, – 53,016 s.
3. Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi (GB/F/CH), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, – 1:03,945 min
4. Dumas/Jani/Lieb (F/CH/D), Porsche 919 Hybrid, – 1 lap
5. Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (D/NZ/AUS), Porsche 919 Hybrid, – 2 laps
6. Wurz/Sarrazin/Conway (A/F/GB), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, – 2 laps
“It was a good team effort to put the cars second and third on the grid. Due to changing weather conditions, it was a compromised weekend in terms of set-up for everyone. In qualifying the conditions were extremely favourable for us, as it was a little cooler, and we made the most of it. However, I regard qualifying as only 0.5 per cent of the job, the main task is the six-hour race tomorrow.”
"I started the first session today," Mark said after practice. "I did some basic checks on the hybrid systems and aerodynamics, then later on also a little bit of performance work to see how the car was. It really wasn’t a bad start, despite the fact we don’t know yet what it means for our performance in a six-hour race. I enjoyed the circuit in Formula One and I enjoyed it with the Porsche 919 Hybrid. The high ambient temperatures gave the cars and drivers an extra challenge. The night session was obviously tricky, but we kept the cars in one piece."
It’s been a rather long break after Le Mans and I was looking forward to being back in the cockpit when we tested at Lausitz three weeks ago. We’ve learnt a lot about the car in the first three races and were able to improve the car in all areas over summer. We’ve introduced a few aero updates which provide a higher downforce and should help improve the 919’s race performance for the remaining races.
The biggest difference for me coming back to Austin this year with the sports car is the temperature, because we never really raced there in super hot conditions in F1. The WEC race there is a bit earlier in the season and it looks like it’s going to be hotter and the track will behave a bit differently from a grip perspective.
The Circuit of the Americas is a very demanding track as it’s got a lot of different speed ranges, long straights and also lot of elevation changes. Turn 1 has got quite a spectacular and dramatic approach up a steep hill featuring a blind apex.
I think generally the low speed corners will be a little bit more awkward in the sports car because it’s heavier. The backend of the middle sector when we get into turn 12 to 15 is going to be a bit more challenging than in the Formula One car. I’ve got some pretty good knowledge about the track having raced there twice with F1 and I’m looking forward to swinging that across especially into the first two or three sessions.
The race will start at 5pm local time and we will race into the dark. I think it’s such a great atmosphere and it’s pretty rare in motorsport that you get the opportunity to run in the twilight window. We will be starting pretty much in the peak of heat of the day, very late in the afternoon. I’ve experienced this before racing in Abu Dhabi and have always enjoyed the special mood when the sun goes down and the night settles in, except Abu Dhabi has always been well lit. On the track in Austin I think it’s only the pit straight that has artificial light and the rest of the track will be pretty dark so the big lights of the Porsche will come in very handy.
Having raced in Austin before I’ve seen how passionate the fans out there are about motorracing and they seem to enjoy big powerful cars and endurance racing. The LM24 hours has a big following when it comes to the American audience and it’s the same with the Sebring 12 hour race which is very famous and the 24 hours of Daytona. It will be great to get out there again also because the North Americans particularly love the Porsche’s.
Cutting down from 20 to eight races in a season sounds like gaining a lot of downtime – and it would, if you weren’t a competitive, driven, outdoor loving Aussie who can’t quite sit still. Mark has a thirteen-week gap until the next race in Austin in September and he talks about the racing break, Wimbledon, the Football World Cup, mountain biking and why you should be careful of Kodak moments.
You asked what happened. Porsche were to have a stop in 3 laps app.10 minutes, but Timo picked up a puncture, so they had to do the stop earlier. Mark had to rush.
Thanks for clearing that up. I only saw that situation on the replays.