Audi’s second straight defeat, after again showing a distinct pace advantage over Porsche, has come as a “massive loss” according to Loic Duval.
Duval and co-drivers Lucas Di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis, as well as the No. 7 Audi R18, dominated the first half of Saturday’s FIA WEC Six Hours of Circuit of The Americas, only for both of the diesel-powered LMP1 hybrids to again hit trouble.
First it was the No. 8 entry of Duval, who lost about 45 seconds in the fourth hour when the car stopped on track with electrical issues, which handed the lead to the sister car, only for Benoit Treluyer to get collected in an accident one hour later.
Despite the electrical gremlin and an issue with the door, the No. 8 car managed to finish 23 seconds behind the race-winning No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid, after topping the time charts in every session, including a sweep of the front row in qualifying.
“It was a massive loss,” Duval said post-race. “It’s difficult to finish second. We had the pace and the car was good. Once again, we have to put everything together to win this.
“We had a great car the whole weekend. Even though the guys did a really good job to [try and] win this race, for the second time in a row, we lost it.
“It’s difficult. There was a race to win and we did everything right to win it. But it’s part of it.”
It came as another bitter blow for the No. 8 crew, which Duval feels also had the pace needed to win last time out in Mexico City, until a wheel bearing failure struck Jarvis midway through the race.
While the trio managed to rebound and finish on the podium at COTA, and take over second in the Drivers’ World Championship, it was no form of consolation, according to Jarvis.
“We’re absolutely gutted,” he said. “We did everything right and at the same time enough wrong.
“Everyone has done a fantastic job to make this step we had from Le Mans. But it’s not good enough just having a quick car; you also need reliability. For the first race, we really dropped the ball in terms of other areas as well.
“To not get the win… it feels like a loss, to be quite honest… We’ve only got ourselves to blame so we need to go back and really analyze what went wrong.”
With its No. 7 car finishing sixth on Saturday, Audi has slipped further behind in the Manufacturers World Championship to its German rival, with only three rounds to go.
Porsche, which has claimed ten out of the last 11 victories in WEC competition, now holds a 53-point lead heading into next month’s Six Hours of Fuji.
“We clearly had the fastest cars on track from the beginning to the end,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.
“However, we were not able to convert this performance into success because we made mistakes ourselves and, on top of that, fortune wasn’t on our side today either.”